It is very common for people to feel anxious when it comes to planning for retirement.[i] Oftentimes, this anxiety can stem from concern about the complexity of the process, the uncertainty of the outcomes, nervousness about having started to plan to late or trying to piece together the different parts that make a cohesive plan work. Ultimately, retirement worries stem from the understanding that life costs money and when you’re not sure where it’s going to come from, that causes stress.
Then there’s the fear of making a mistake. In our experience in working with clients, this is the most common cause of anxiety. There are no do-overs when it comes to retirement planning. That fact can often place significant pressure on individuals and raise their anxiety about the entire process.
It’s true that errors made in a retirement plan could be costly—we are talking about money, after all. But there are also costs in terms of time—depending on how close retirement is, there may not be enough time to make up any lost ground.
No financial planner or investment advisor representative can guarantee an error-free retirement plan. Mistakes can and do happen. But there is much that we, as financial planners, and you, as an individual, can do to help minimize the impact of mistakes and find confidence when you’re planning for retirement.
Here are a few of our suggestions:
It’s not uncommon for individuals to have an assortment of retirement accounts, including 401(k)s and IRAs, along with other investments, banking relationships, insurance policies and more. While people are working, saving and building wealth during their careers, it’s easy to collect different accounts that often have overlapping objectives.
With so many accounts and variables to consider, it is no wonder that people feel a little overwhelmed. You may look at your financial plan and see only a jumble of gears, each moving at a different pace. You want to synchronize these parts so they work together and run smoothly throughout your journey in retirement.
If you feel you’re disorganized when it comes to all of your retirement and investment accounts, know that you’re not alone. This is one of the first concerns we usually address when we welcome new clients to our firm. Sometimes, just the act of opening an envelope that arrived in the mail from a retirement plan provider can reveal enough information to help reassure a client about their financial future.
In helping clients get their finances organized, we consolidate their information and identify specific purposes for each account. Quite often, we may show clients they already have sufficient resources for a specific goal, or at least are on a good path toward pursuing that goal. A small insight like this can be a good first step toward building confidence in a retirement plan.
Check in often
At a minimum, we recommend an annual retirement plan check-up. Your doctor recommends annual physicals to help you maintain health and well-being and adjust your lifestyle if necessary. Doing the same with your retirement plan could have a similar effect on your financial well-being.
As you get older and the idea of retiring becomes more real, you may find yourself thinking more about your retirement plan. You may wonder if your financial well-being is healthy enough for a long retirement. The more you look ahead and think about your finances without being proactive, the more your anxiety could build.
When we work with clients who are closing in on retirement, we revisit their retirement plan more often than once per year and measure the progress they’ve made against the benchmarks we have set. Annual check-ins are usually not enough as retirement gets closer, so we increase the frequency of account reviews to help clients relieve some of the stress they may be feeling.
Be honest with your expectations
One of the more challenging aspects of planning for retirement can be discovering how to set expectations and establishing well-defined goals. It’s not that many people have unrealistic objectives or pie-in-the-sky expectations (although that does happen). Rather, we find the goals people set are often arbitrary—there is no true purpose or guiding belief behind their expectations. People set the same objectives for retirement because everyone else does.
When working with clients, we encourage them to think beyond numbers when setting expectations for retirement. More than financial confidence, what do they really want their retirement to look like? We ask them to think about the choices they have in front of them—what goals are most valuable; what do they feel can they can’t really live without.
One common thread that emerges from these client discussions is a desire for freedom to spend their time as they please. Many come to realize they value time more than money. So we help them create a plan for building and withdrawing retirement assets that maximizes the value of their time. Quite often, people discover they may not need as much money as they thought to make the most of their time. This discovery can be as liberating as it is stress relieving.
A partner in planning for financial confidence
A financial planner can bring knowledge and experience to help you find solutions to specific financial challenges you face. Just having someone else address a stubborn problem on your behalf may relieve much of the stress that comes with the complexity of retirement planning.
There’s also the benefit of being able to spread the stress of retirement planning around to another person. It can be liberating to have a third-party advisor lift some of the burden off of your shoulders. Finding another person who understands the fears and anxieties you face can give you the freedom to take the first steps in planning for your future.
When Franklin Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” he understood that fear holds people back from seeking success and improving their lives. The fear of making financial mistakes can keep you from planning ahead for your future. The team at Hanna Wealth can provide qualified guidance that can help give you the confidence to move forward.
Contributing Author, AES Virtual Consulting
Investment advisory services offered only by duly registered individuals through AE Wealth Management, LLC (AEWM). AEWM and Retire with Jim Hanna are not affiliated companies. Neither the firm nor its agents or representatives may give tax or legal advice. Individuals should consult with a qualified professional for guidance before making any purchasing decisions.
We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice. All investments are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.