Make Sure Clients Road-Test Retirement

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Retirement Cake

Retirement is probably one of the most significant events in anyone’s life. Done without prior thought and planning and you can lose all your friends, your self esteem, and your reason to get out of bed in the morning. Done to escape a difficult job or to recreate and the money may very well take care of itself as you are more likely to die young.

Life planning is perhaps nowhere more important than in retirement planning.

It is for that reason that I read with interest Craig Brown’s article in InvestmentNews entitled “Make sure client road-test retirement” in which he wrote:

There is a way to help clients head off post-workforce problems: As they near retirement, encourage them to set up a trial run and “practice” their retirement, even if it’s for only a week or two.

When Social Security initially set the full retirement age at 65 the average life expectancy was only 62. Now with life expectancy continuing to increase, doing meaningful work longer makes more sense than a complete withdrawal from work. Changing what you do is a better way of looking at retirement. And if you are going to change what you do drastically it might be a good idea to try it out. As Brown writes:

A good example of clients who should perform a practice run are those who have based their financial plan for retirement on the idea that they will be living in a far different environment than their current home. …

Other clients who should absolutely practice retirement are those who have determined that they want to spend a large amount of time and resources in retirement doing something they don’t already commit much of their free time to, such as operating a small business.

Perhaps the best advice in the column is on keeping one foot in employment until you are certain you are ready for your new life.

Practicing retirement may also mean easing into it. Some people may want to take a part-time role with their current employer, or work as a consultant to continue experiencing the challenge of work. Of course, this can also offer important financial benefits that help preserve the nest egg. The point is to experience life in this new reality “challenges and all” to make certain it is the right choice for life in retirement.

Most people lose some of their closest friends when they retire and often feel lonely and isolated. Going slowly gives you time to develop a new social network before leaving the old one entirely.

Photo by Rachid used here under Flickr Creative Commons.

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David John Marotta is the Founder and President of Marotta Wealth Management. He played for the State Department chess team at age 11, graduated from Stanford, taught Computer and Information Science, and still loves math and strategy games. In addition to his financial writing, David is a co-author of The Haunting of Bob Cratchit.