You have been disciplined, saved for retirement. That may have seemed like the hard part but the harder part is just beginning. You are on the 80-yard line but you have not scored! You must understand how to make that money last. The earning years are ending and new focus is… SPENDING. The goal is different. The philosophy is different. The strategy is different. You need a plan that is different.
You have worked, been disciplined and saved your whole life to get to where you are. You have arrived and you should feel proud of that. But arrived where? At the end of your ‘savings’ journey. I wish I could say it is over. It isn’t. You now start the ‘spending’ part of your trip. Unfortunately, mistakes at this point are very unlikely to be corrected.
We imagine getting to this point many many times in life, but almost no one thinks about what to do once you get here. We think about saving, saving, saving but not s p e n d i n g. It is common to picture that day when we’ll have stashed away enough money to call it quits. Some of us get good at the accumulation phase – but rarely are we prepared for what comes after that: making the money last for the rest of our lives.
That’s the concern I hear most often hear from the people I meet through my workshops or in my office. They worry is, and rightly so, that they’ll outlive their savings. There are several things that can derail you’re your retirement.
If you are going to make your money last, unless you a lot more money than you will need, you cannot afford to lose any of it. I am often shocked by how much risk pre-retirees – people who are just five to seven years away from their goal retirement age, retirees- already retired, will keep in their portfolio.
Most people think their only option is to lose to inflation by having their money in the bank or take risk. They have been brainwashed to think they must take risk to keep up with inflation, using risk oriented investments –stocks, bonds, gold, traded real estate trusts, mutual funds, ETFs, etc. I know it sounds counter to everything you think you know but, you can risk less and spend more. Take this easy 11 question Risk Analysis, to see where you are.
The little known good news is, there is a middle-ground financial vehicle, where you can mitigate risk and still keep up with inflation. For instance, fixed index annuities can provide protection of your principal from market volatility while still allowing for potential gains based on market performance. Did you know you can get 50% of the market gains without ever experiencing a loss? When you have a solid foundation of assets that provide safety and guaranteed income, you can sleep at night even with the risk you take with ‘other’ assets.
The point is to focus on your retirement income, not just your net worth. If you’re only looking at your statement balances, you could be missing a big part of the picture. Remember, the focus is different for retirement. It doesn’t matter how much you have saved on any given day – it only counts if you’ll have that money when you need it… for the rest of your life.
In Dave Vick’s book, Bat Socks Vegas and Conservative Investing, he likens your financial professional to a Sherpa. You need someone to get you up the retirement mountain, help you to accumulate enough money. But you’ll also need help during the preservation and distribution phase of your journey that is just as important. I think the Sherpa analogy is a good one. The Sherpa cannot get you up or down the mountain without you doing your part. Your part is getting educated, understanding what most people never will, it is all about preservation and income. BTW, most financial ‘sherpas’ only focus on the climb, the earning years. They are unknowledgeable about how to get down the mountain safely, in the spending years. Make sure your Sherpa knows how to get you down the mountain.