Retirement can be an exciting, active time of your life. But if you’re going to get the full benefits from your retirement years — which could last two, or even three, decades — you’ll need to have a vision for what you want to do. And to transform this vision into reality, you’ll need to take a “holistic” approach — one that involves a financial strategy, clear communications with family members and an awareness of the challenges that may stand in your way.
To articulate and achieve your vision, ask yourself a series of questions, such as the following:
•What do I want to do? When you retire, do you plan on traveling around the world? Purchasing a vacation home? Pursuing your hobbies? Or maybe you’re even thinking of opening a small business. Clearly, you have many options — and you’ll need to be aware that some choices are going to be more costly than others. If you can identify how you want to spend your retirement years and then put a “price tag” on your goal — or at least come up with a pretty good estimate of how much money you’ll need each year — you can then create an appropriate investment strategy. Such a strategy will include both your need for growth — during your pre-retirement and retirement years — and your need for income, especially during your retirement years. Your investment strategy will also need to be based on your risk tolerance, family situation and time horizon — how many years you have until your retirement.
•What “roadblocks” might I encounter? As you work to achieve your retirement vision, you may well encounter some “roadblocks” along the way. One significant roadblock is the amount of health care expenses you might face during retirement. Many people think Medicare will cover everything, but that’s not the case — in fact, you could easily spend a few thousand dollars each year, out of pocket, for health care costs. And since these costs typically rise as you move further into retirement, you’ll need a reasonable portion of your assets to be allocated to investments with the potential for rising income. Even beyond normal health care costs, though, you’ll need to be aware that you could eventually need some type of long-term care, such as a stay in a nursing home or assistance from a home health aide. These costs can be enormous; to cope with them, you need to prepare well ahead of time, so you may want to consult with your financial advisor for possible solutions.
•How can I protect my family? Your retirement vision can’t just involve yourself, or even just yourself and your spouse. To fully enjoy your retirement years, you’ll want to know that you are helping to protect your grown children from financial and emotional burdens that could fall on them should you become incapacitated in some way. Among the steps you might consider taking is establishing a durable power of attorney, which allows you to appoint an agent to manage your financial affairs, make health care decisions or conduct other business for you during your incapacitation. Consult with your legal advisor about creating a durable power of attorney.
You will find that having your retirement vision come to fruition can be a great feeling. So, do whatever it takes to make it happen.
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