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Retirement Questions That Have Nothing to Do With Money

Preparing for retirement is not entirely financial.

Your degree of happiness in your “second act” may depend on some factors that don’t come with an obvious price tag. Here are some non-monetary factors to consider as you prepare for your retirement.

What will you do with your time?

Too many people retire without any idea of what their retirement will look like. They leave work, and they cannot figure out what to do with themselves, so they grow restless. It’s important to identify what you want your retirement to look like and what you see yourself doing. Maybe you love your career and can’t imagine not working during your retirement. There’s no hard and fast rule to your dream retirement, so it’s important to be honest with yourself. A recent Employee Benefit Research Institute retirement confidence survey shows that 72% of workers expect to work for pay in retirement, whereas just 30% of retirees report that they’ve actually worked for pay.1

Having a clear vision for your retirement may help you align your financial goals. It’s important to remember that your vision for retirement may change—like deciding you don’t want to continue working after all.

Where will you live?

This is another factor in retirement happiness. If you can surround yourself with family members and friends whose company you enjoy, in a community where you can maintain old friendships and meet new people with similar interests or life experience, that may be a plus. If all this can occur in a walkable community with good mass transit and senior services, all the better.

How are you preparing to get around in your eighties and nineties?

The actuaries at Social Security project that the average life expectancy for men turning 65 is 84.1 years old, and the life expectancy for women turning 65 is 86.6 years. Some will live longer. Say you find yourself in that group. What kind of car would you want to drive at 85 or 90? At what age would you cease driving? Lastly, if you do stop driving, who would you count on to help you go where you want to go and get out in the world?2

How will you keep up your home?

At 45, you can tackle that bathroom remodel or backyard upgrade yourself. At 75, you will probably outsource projects of that sort, whether or not you stay in your current home. You may want to move out of a single-family home and into a townhome or condo for retirement. Regardless of the size of your retirement residence, you should expect to fund minor or major repairs, and you may need to find reliable and affordable sources for gardening or landscaping.

These are the non-financial retirement questions that no pre-retiree should dismiss. Think about them as you prepare and invest for the future.

  1. Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2021
  2. Social Security Administration, 2021

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG, LLC, is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2022 FMG Suite.

 

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Retirement Strategies for Women

Preparing for retirement can look a little different for women than it does for men. Although stereotypes are changing, women are still more likely to serve as caretakers than men are, meaning they may accumulate less income and benefits due to their time absent from the workforce. Research shows that 31% of women are currently or have been caregivers during their careers. Women who are working also tend to put less money aside for retirement. According to one report, women contribute 30% less to their retirement accounts than men.1,2

These numbers may seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to be a statistic. With a little foresight, you can start taking steps now, which may help you in the long run. Here are three steps to consider that may put you ahead of the curve.

  1. Talk about money.Nowadays, discussing money is less taboo than it’s been in the past, and it’s crucial to taking control of your financial future. If you’re single, consider writing down your retirement goals and keeping them readily accessible. If you have a partner, make sure you are both on the same page regarding your retirement goals. The more comfortably you can talk about your future, the more confident you may be to make important decisions when they come up.
  1. Be proactive about your retirement.Do you have clear, defined goals for what you want your retirement to look like? And do you know where your retirement accounts stand today? Being proactive with your retirement accounts allows you to create a goal-oriented roadmap. It may also help you adapt when necessary and continue your journey regardless of things like relationship status or market fluctuations.
  2. Make room for your future in your budget.Adjust your budget to allow for retirement savings, just as you would for a new home or your dream vacation. Like any of your other financial goals, you may find it beneficial to review your retirement goals on a regular basis to make sure you’re on track.

Retirement may look a little different for women, but with the right strategies – and support – you’ll be able to live the retirement you’ve always dreamed of.

  1. Transamerica.com, 2021
  2. GAO.gov, 2021

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG, LLC, is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2022 FMG Suite.

If you have any questions about women and retirement planning, reach out to Lynn at lynnt@herretirement.com.

 

Episode 50

Episode 50: The Surprising Benefits of Planning Future You

This week’s Her Retirement podcast was inspired by an article Lynn Toomey read recently on the BBC website entitled, “How Thinking About ‘future you’ can build a happier life.” She was also spurred on by a visit with her mom to a local senior center to get some advice on Medicare, elder care planning and the like. “Helping my 86-year-old mom put a plan in place for her future, definitely spurred me on to come home and do some visualizing, planning and recording this episode.”

Mr. Robson’s article encourages people to imagine and nurture their future self, including their health, wealth and happiness. Lynn loves the concept because health, wealth, and happiness is the focus not only of her podcast, but also the Her Retirement Platform. The author asks readers to think ahead to 10 years from now and consider if you’ll still fundamentally be the same person you are today, or will you hardly recognize yourself? Many researchers and psychological studies show that people’s responses to this question varies quite a bit. But their answer does point to some surprising behavioral tendencies. Put some headphones on and go for walk or listen while cooking dinner and find out the benefits of planning future you.

Listen to more episodes here

Read the episode transcript here

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Ep. 50: The Surprising Benefits of Planning Future You

 

The Surprising Benefits of Planning Future You

 

This year I started to really think about and visualize my future me. And because I’m 56 (57 in August), my future will more than likely bring some pretty significant lifestyle changes. But I’m only going to bite off a little bit of future me planning at a time…like visualize me in 10 years and what the path to that future date looks like. 

 

I wasn’t sure when I was going to record this podcast, but I was spurred on by an article I read recently on the BBC website entitled, “How Thinking About ‘future you’ can build a happier life.” And then yesterday I took my mom to her local senior center to get some advice on Medicare, elder care planning, and the like and I decided this week would be as good as any to Ger Her Done.

 

Helping my 86-year-old mom put a plan in place for her future, definitely spurred me on to come home and do some visualizing, planning, and recording this podcast. 

 

I circled back to David Robson’s BBC article and I’m looking forward to sharing some of his insights from the article with you, along with some tips for visually mapping out your future. And with this episode of my podcast, I decided to start assigning some homework with each episode to help my listeners not just listen and then go on about their lives, but to listen and then take action. Because that’s the only way to make a change to your present and future. So at the end of the podcast, I’ll explain your assignment to help you Get Her Done.

 

Mr. Robson’s article encourages people to imagine and nurture their future selves, including their health, wealth, and happiness. I love the concept of that because health, wealth, and happiness are the focus not only on this podcast but also on my Her Retirement Platform. He asks readers to think ahead to 10 years from now and consider if you’ll still fundamentally be the same person you are today, or will you hardly recognize yourself?

 

Many researchers and psychological studies show that people’s responses to this question vary quite a bit. But their answer does point to some surprising behavioral tendencies.

Those who have a strong sense of who they are and will become in the future tend to be better and more responsible with their money, how they treat others, and being mindful of actions that will make the future easier. By contrast, some people have difficulty imagining their future selves as just an extension of their current selves. They appear to be somewhat disconnected from their present-day identity so they tend to act less responsibly in their actions.

 

The article goes on to say that nurturing your future self is just another thing we should all be mindful of. Getting to know our future selves and encouraging acceptance of who we will become has a significant impact (and benefits) on our financial security, health, and happiness.

 

Sounds good to me. How about you?

 

But guess what? This recent research is based on writings from 18th-century philosophers, Joseph Butler and Derek Parfit. In 1736, Butler offers this insight to us, “If the self or person of today, and that of tomorrow, are not the same, but only like persons, the person of today is really no more interested in what will befall the person of tomorrow, than in what will befall any other person.”

 

This theory was later expanded by Derek Parfit and used as a basis by a professor of behavioral decision making, marketing, and psychology, Hal Hershfield at the University of California, Los Angeles.  Mr. Hershfield hypothesized that a “disconnection from our future selves might explain many irrational elements of human behavior – including our reluctance to set aside savings for our retirement. Hmmm…very interesting.”

 

We may blame a lot of things for our inability to save for retirement (and of course some are legit), but how often do we consider how our own behavior plays into our outcomes?

 

The article goes into more detail on Hershfield’s research and how he conducted it through conversations with research participants about his future self. He also asked participants to consider various financial planning scenarios such as one in which a person could either receive a smaller reward soon or a larger reward later. As one might expect, those who felt more connected to their future self were much more willing to delay instant gratification and wait for the bigger reward.

 

As I’m talking about this, I’m wondering how much of this behavior comes down to the people who believe in the motto “live for today.” Or, “you can’t take it with you.”  Do those people tend to just focus on the current me?

 

Hershfield then went on to find out how this tendency correlated with the actual financial planning of these participants. Guess what? He discovered that those more in touch with future self had more money saved (and off-limits to current self).

 

Next, as the article says, “Back to the future” (loved that movie by the way… “Wait A Minute, Doc. Are You Telling Me You Built A Time Machine…Out Of A DeLorean?”

 

Sorry for my digression. Back to the future. Later research by Hershfield examined other areas of life, and here’s what he found out…

1).  People’s future self-continuity could predict their exercise behaviors and overall fitness. With a strong connection to your future self, you’re more likely to take care of your health and fitness now and into the future.

2). People who score highly on the future self-continuity measure have higher moral standards than the people who struggle to identify with their future selves. These people understand the consequences of present-day decisions and their impact on the future self.

3). Future self-continuity at the beginning of Hershfield’s study (which lasted over a decade with 4,000 participants) could predict their life satisfaction 10 years later.

People who set up their lives in a way that benefits the future self (in addition to the current self) enjoy more health, wealth, and happiness. Inability to identify with your future self can have long-term consequences for your overall wellbeing. We all struggle sometimes to imagine ourselves older, but if we could, it would definitely be to our advantage.  I have noticed that in my 30s and 40s, I wasn’t bothered so much thinking 10 years into the future. But now in my mid-50s, a little panic and worry sets in, but it doesn’t stop me from keeping a clear picture in my head of the future, and it’s a good picture.

This extremely interesting article and research wrap up with a section called, The things I wish I’d Know. This reminds me of a piece from Erma Bombeck’s book, Eat Less Cottage Cheese and More Ice Cream: Thoughts on Life from Erma Bombeck, called If I Had to Live My Life Over Again.

So what are some things I wish I’d known?

Based on all the benefits of connecting with and planning a future you (including health, wealth, and happiness), we of course want to know how we can do this. And this is where your homework for this episode comes in.

According to Hershfield’s research, one of the ways you can improve your connection to the future you is to create an avatar of what you might look like at say age 70. People who did this reported feeling a greater connection to their future self, and in subsequent measures of decision making, they showed more financial responsibility, like setting aside more money for retirement. Does this surprise you? According to the author of this article, David Robson, these exercises “encourage people to feel a greater sense of connection with their future self – and, as a result, primes them for positive behavioral change.”

Next, a less techy way to do this is to write a letter to future you, say 10-20 years from now. Include what’s important for you now and what you hope to accomplish in the coming decades of life. I have done something similar with vision boards and a journal where I write down my intentions for the future. In my Her Retirement retirement readiness software platform, I have a module called Envision where you go through a number of exercises either on your own or with your spouse/partner. It’s a similar concept but because I love to write letters, I’m going to write one to myself. I have written one to my kids (only to be read after I pass someday). But I’m going to write this letter next.

Hershfield’s studies have shown that the task increased the amount of time that people spent exercising over the following week (crazy right)… a sign that they had started to take their long-term health seriously. (If you are keen to try this out, he suggests that you could amplify the effects by writing a reply from the future since that will force you to adopt a long-term perspective.)

If you’re wondering how Hershfield has applied his research to his own life, the author shares with us that he tries to put himself in the shoes of his future self to imagine how he might look back on his current behavior. He uses this technique when faced with stressful situations like raising his children. He states,“I try to think whether my future self would be proud of the way that I handled myself.” 

Mr. Robson adds, “It might seem eccentric to start a ‘conversation’ with an imagined entity – but once your future self becomes alive in your mind, you may find it much easier to make the small personal sacrifices that are essential to preserve your wellbeing. And in the years ahead, you’ll thank yourself for that forethought.” 

Well, you actually don’t have to thank yourselves in the years ahead, you can thank yourself in the letter you write to yourself…now that’s the power of positive suggestion. 

David Robson is a science writer and author based in London, UK. His latest book, The Expectation Effect: How Your Mindset Can Transform Your Life, was published in January of this year. If want to check this out. I think I’m going to. I also want to mention another book I heard about in another podcast on this topic called, “Be Your Future Self Now: The Science of Intentional Transformation by Benjamin Hardy.”

It’s coming out in June and the description on Amazon says, “This isn’t a book about BECOMING it’s about BEING: noted psychologist Dr. Benjamin Hardy shows how to imagine the person you want to be, then BE that person now. When you do this, your imagined FUTURE directs your behavior, rather than your past. 

Who is your Future-Self?
 
That question may seem trite. But it’s literally the answer to all of your life’s questions. It’s the answer to what you’re going to do today. It’s the answer to how motivated you are, and how you feel about yourself. It’s the answer to whether you’ll distract yourself on social media for hours, whether you’ll eat junk food, and what time you get up in the morning.
 
Your imagined Future-Self is the driver of your current reality. It is up to you to develop the ability to imagine better and more expansive visions of your Future-Self.
 
Your current view of your Future-Self is very limited. If you seek learning, growth, and new experiences, you’ll be able to imagine a different and better Future-Self than you currently can.
 
It’s not only useful to see your Future-Self as a different person from who you are today, but it is also completely accurate. Your Future-Self will not be the same person you are today. They will see the world differently. They’ll have had experiences, challenges, and growth you currently don’t have. They’ll have different goals and priorities. They’ll have different habits. They’ll also be in a different world—a world with different cultural values, different technologies, and different challenges.

As I close out this episode of my podcast I want to remind you about a few things. There are many benefits to connecting with and planning the future you, including more health, wealth, and happiness…today and in the future. As  you’re doing this remember:

When you’re evaluating or dreaming about the future you, go into every aspect of your life and think about how you’d like to feel and what you envision.

Here is a list of some of the areas of life you should think about:

Home
Friendships
Romantic Relationships
Family
Career
Travel
Car/Transportation
Health
Community
Hobbies
Fashion

And finally, I’d like to share with you what Erma Bombeck said to the question, “If I had to live my life over again would I change anything?”

Her answer was no, but then she thought about it and changed her mind. Here’s what she said,

If I had my life to live over again I would have waxed less and listened more.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy and complaining about the shadow over my feet, I’d have cherished every minute of it and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the “good” living room and worried less about the dirt when you lit the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have burnt the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted while being stored.

I would have sat cross-legged on the lawn with my children and never worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television … and more while watching real life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband which I took for granted.

I would have eaten less cottage cheese and more ice cream.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the Earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for a day.

I would never have bought ANYTHING just because it was practical/wouldn’t show soil/ guaranteed to last a lifetime.

When my child kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now, go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more I love yous … more I’m sorry’s … more I’m listenings … but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it … look at it and really see it … try it on … live it … exhaust it … and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it.”

Well, that wraps up this week’s episode. I hope you found it as interesting as I did. Don’t forget to do your homework assignment: create an avatar and write a letter to your future self.

Here’s to knowing more & having more and getting her done.

 

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Episode 49: The True Costs of Retirement Are More Than You Think (Part 2)

 

Hi there, and welcome to the Her Retirement podcast. This is episode 49, part 2 of the True Costs of Retirement. Last week I covered cost mistakes 1-8. This week I’m going to cover 9-16. These are the 16 most devastating mistakes you can make when estimating your costs in retirement.

As a review, here’s all 16:

  1. Opportunity cost: you don’t start saving AND investing soon enough
  2. Lack of a Long Term Care plan
  3. Not estimating life expectancy correctly
  4. A realistic estimate of healthcare costs
  5. Not accounting for inflation
  6. Forgetting about some big-ticket expenses you’ll likely have
  7. Changing spending habits
  8. Being in the sandwich generation: loaning money to your kids or parents, or taking time off from work to care for parents
  9. Spoiling the grandkids
  10. Not understanding or factoring in taxes (there’s a huge opportunity to make your money last longer with smart tax planning)
  11.  Forgetting about fees
  12.  Getting divorced
  13.  Take on too much or new debt prior to retirement
  14.  Taking too much money from your nest egg each year
  15.  Underestimating the impact of market fluctuations

 

16. And I’m going to add a 16th mistake: not getting educating and wasting time not doing anything or planning with the wrong team.

 

If you didn’t catch last week’s episode 48, go back and take a listen before or after listening to this episode.

Let’s start with number 9…

 

9. But they are so cute…the grandkids, that is.

So easy to spend way too much on the adorable little grandkiddos. This is another area where you need to set some boundaries for yourself and be disciplined. If you give too much, you may risk your own retirement needs.

How to Better Prepare?

Have a plan for what you’re willing to pay for before any grandchildren are born. And make it equitable for all the grandchildren. Also, make sure your children know what expenses you’re willing to cover. This is especially important when it comes to education costs. This conversation is important, so your children understand what they need to make the appropriate plans.

 

10. Taxes

Many people have no clue how much taxes can take out your retirement. And they also do not indicate that there are legal strategies to avoid paying too much in taxes.

One example is that you WILL have to pay taxes on your retirement savings plan withdrawals, and the government forces you to start taking withdrawals at age 72 if you haven’t yet started taking your withdrawals.

How to Better Prepare?

Number one: find a tax-smart financial or retirement advisor ASAP. There are many things you can do well before retirement to make yourself much more tax-efficient in retirement (i.e., Roth IRAs, which I talked about in last week’s podcast).

Number two: make sure you (and your advisor) create a combination tax strategy that leverages taxable, tax-deferred, and tax-free accounts. Make sure to ask the advisor about Roth conversions and also for them to show you your tax-efficient withdrawal strategy in retirement. If they don’t know how to do this, find another advisor. Not all financial advisors, planners or investment advisors, or the guy at Fidelity or Vanguard know anything about tax planning or retirement planning, for that matter. Who you work with matters…a lot.

 

11. The Fee Factor

According to research, retirement can cost more than expected because of people’s high fees on investments and retirement accounts. Somebody with $100,000 in a retirement account and terms of 2.5% over 30 years, for example, would pay about $40,000 more in fees over that time than if the fees on their account had been just 1.5%.

That’s a lot of money.

How to Better Prepare?

Check your retirement account statements to see what fees are being charged. If the investments you have chosen have high fees, it might be time to switch.

If your retirement account offers low-cost index or target-date funds, consider those. An index fund is a mutual fund that tracks the performance of a major index, such as the S&P 500. A target-date fund reduces the risk in your portfolio by shifting from stocks to bonds as you near retirement.

If you have an advisor, make sure you get full disclosure of all the fees you are paying, the advisor, and the fund fees. If everything isn’t 100% transparent, find another advisor.

 

12. Divorce Can Do You In

Divorce can be devastating, but gray divorce is on the rise. According to the Pew Research Center, the divorce rate has doubled since the 1990s for American adults ages 50 and older. Marriages are failing as people near retirement age.

How to Better Prepare?

This podcast isn’t about marriage counseling, so I can’t give you any advice on avoiding gray divorce other than don’t get married. LOL. But seriously, one way to avoid some of the financial fallout from a divorce in retirement is to have a prenuptial agreement. However, that might not be an option if you’re already married. Focusing on your marriage and your relationship could be an essential investment in your monetary future. If this isn’t in the cards, there are some things you can do to avoid as much financial fallout from a divorce as possible.

  1. Make sure you know everything about your financial situation. Not only your own money but your spouses as well.
  2. Make sure you have a copy of all the essential documents for your shared assets and liabilities, as well as legal documents.

 

13. Ditching Debt

Ideally, you’ll have paid off all debts — including your mortgage — before you retire. But taking on new debt in retirement by living beyond your means is a recipe for disaster, according to every expert. Bad debt is to be avoided at all costs in retirement.

How to Better Prepare?

If you take on new debt in retirement, be sure you are taking proactive steps to pay it down as soon as possible. One option is to refinance if lower interest rates are available. Another option is debt consolidation, which can be helpful if you have multiple high-interest-rate debts. You should also try cutting down on spending to have more money to dedicate to paying down debt and consider taking on a side hustle to bring in income in retirement that can be explicitly used to pay off your debts.

 

14. Withdrawing Too Much Money in Retirement

Conventional wisdom says you should plan to withdraw 4% from your nest egg each year (this is known as the safe withdrawal rate), but this might be too much. A Morningstar study found that with a 4% withdrawal rate, there was only a 50% chance that funds would last for 30 years in retirement. The amount you should withdraw will depend on the size of your nest egg and economic circumstances, so don’t just follow blanket rules of thumb such as the dated 4% rule. In today’s market environment and traditional 60/40 stock/bond portfolios, the safe withdrawal rate is 2-3%. That’s a big difference in income. On a million-dollar portfolio that’s $20,000 or $30,000 vs. $40,000.  There are some unique outside-the-box strategies for increasing your safe withdrawal rate. In past podcast episodes, blog posts, and my masterclass, I’ve talked about these. If you’d like to review them with me, shoot me an email at: lynnt@herretirement.com.

How to Better Prepare?

The Morningstar study found that the ideal withdrawal rate is closer to 2.8%, but this will vary based on your circumstances. It’s best to meet with a retirement advisor (like to folks at Your Retirement Advisor) to come up with a withdrawal strategy that will allow you to live comfortably without worrying about running out of money in retirement.

 

15. Market Fluctuations

A lousy market or ups and downs of the market can ruin the best-laid plans, even if you have a safe withdrawal rate all figured out. The need is one thing we can’t control, but not planning around a lousy market can cost you dearly.

How to Better Prepare?

Imperfect markets make people misbehave (i.e., pulling their money out as a knee-jerk reaction vs. staying the course).  Due to the inevitable volatility of the market throughout your retirement, Forbes recommends assessing your withdrawal and return rates each year to determine if your withdrawal rate needs to be raised or lowered.

Also, if you’re nearing retirement, you need to market-proof your portfolio, and you need a bucket of money to get you through a downturn so that you don’t have to raid your investment accounts.

Making a portfolio projection in all market environments is critical. You need to know how your portfolio will fair in a down market.

A retirement advisor can help ensure your retirement strategy and portfolio are aligned with your retirement goals and protected from market fluctuations as much as possible.


I will add a 16
th mistake:

16. Not getting educated and wasting time not doing anything or planning with the wrong team.

 

I hope this episode of my podcast has given you some insight into actual retirement costs.  There are many ways to better plan for these costs, avoid mistakes and retire with more. If you’d like to chat about your situation, as always, email me at: lynnt@herretirement.com. I can also connect you with whatever planning and advice resources you need.  Here’s to knowing more and having more, and getting her done.