When we’re working with our clients at Keen Wealth Advisors, we understand that retirement planning is much more than just “getting the numbers right.” Yes, you have to track your investments, budget your monthly bills, and calculate how living off retirement assets is going to affect your taxes. But a successful retirement is more than just a spreadsheet — it’s a whole new chapter of your life, and, with good planning, it can be a great chapter.
On today’s show, my good friend Dick Blaisdell joins us to share his experiences of what it has been like during his 16 years of retired life to date.
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Insights from Today’s Podcast on Living a Successful Retirement
Dick’s fascinating career began with fabricating submarines for the US Navy and included building coal-fired power plants in Jakarta, Indonesia and design and quality control work on nuclear power plants. In other words, for 40 years, Dick worked hard. And like a lot of retirees who are used to a 40-hour plus work week, Dick struggled with the freedom of retirement. Adding to the challenge for Dick was the loss of his wife only five years into his retirement. So how did Dick make his transition into a successful retirement? These were the big keys:
1. Stay active
After his wife died, Dick realized that he had to start over in order to keep himself active. He moved to a new home, made new friends. He started playing more bridge, improved his golf game. He wrote hundreds of essays and letters to the editor at the Kansas City Star — many of which were published. Like a lot of retirees these days, Dick worked part time as a consultant, putting his lifetime of engineering know-how to good use. Today, Dick volunteers for the AARP doing tax returns for low-income and elderly people. Retirement can be a wonderful time to pursue the hobbies and passions you couldn’t focus on when you were working, or to discover new ones. The important thing is recognizing the need to stay active and engaged with other people.
A lot of retirees replace their 9-to-5 job with a similarly regimented daily schedule. If filling up your calendar with trips, lessons, volunteer work, and tee times keeps you happy and stimulated, great. But that didn’t work for Dick. He wanted to let his life roll a little bit. For Dick, that could mean something as simple as treating himself to a spontaneous long lunch, or as exciting as a spin around a NASCAR track. New experiences and new people that take you out of your comfort zone can help retirement feel more like part of your ongoing life journey and less like a final destination.
3. Give yourself time to adjust
Whether you set a new schedule for yourself or try to keep things loose, it’s OK to feel a little overwhelmed once you’re no longer going to work every day. A routine like Dick’s that lasted 40 years isn’t something you can just walk away from. Dick thinks it took him three or four years to learn how to be retired, how to fill his time, how to manage his money, how to live off his retirement assets. For Dick, one necessary step in his adjustment to retired life was better-educating himself about his investments. Dick took meetings with lots of financial advisors, increasing his own financial proficiency, until he settled on an advisor he felt he could trust with his retirement planning. Most people worry about money above all other things. Retirement changes your income, your taxes, and your budget. Getting a better understanding of your financial picture can alleviate some of that worry and give you time to focus on the other things in your life that will make your retirement a happy one.
4. Realize that you can’t take it with you
“How much money do I need to retire?” We get that question a lot, and it certainly weighed on Dick’s mind early in his retirement. But as Dick became more comfortable with his retired life, he began to have a little more faith in his financial plan. He understood what his assets were, and how to live off the income they were generating for him. He realized that his expenses as a retiree were probably 60% of what they were when he was working (although that percentage varies from retiree to retiree). He understood the tax ramifications of the legacy he wanted to leave his children, and worked out yearly, tax-free gifts including college tuition payments for his grandchildren. It took years, but eventually Dick changed his thinking from, “I’ve got to save my money to the end,” to “It’s time to spend it.” Yes, retirees need to budget and save. But they also need to live! If your budget allows, take that dream vacation. Buy that car you’ve always wanted. You’ve worked your whole life, and you’ve followed a prudent financial plan. You’ve earned a little fun.
That’s the kind of freedom and enjoyment we would like all of our clients at Keen Wealth Advisors to experience in a successful retirement.
Bill Keen on living a successful retirement …
“A successful retirement is not just numbers on a page. It’s a whole new life that requires new ways of thinking, living, and financial planning.”
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Bill Keen is a Chartered Retirement Planning Consultant® and independent financial advisor with more than 24 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
Keen Wealth Advisors is a Registered Investment Adviser. Nothing within this commentary constitutes investment advice, performance data or any recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Any mention of a particular security and related performance data is not a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Keen Wealth Advisors manages its clients’ accounts using a variety of investment techniques and strategies, which are not necessarily discussed here. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.