When it comes to retirement, planning is everything.
How you plan for retirement now affects when and how well you can retire.
We’re in a Retirement Crisis
A 2017 poll revealed a dire reality: 88% of Americans consider our country to be in a retirement crisis. Flat wages, underfunded social programs, and skyrocketing healthcare costs are certainly to blame. According to the National Institute on Retirement Security, “more than ¾ of Americans are concerned about their ability to achieve a secure retirement.”
According to a 2019 Federal Reserve report, almost half of Americans said their retirement plan was “not on track.”
It boils down to this: to be truly prepared for retirement, you need a smart, meticulously-crafted, and carefully-managed retirement plan. Today.
How Retirement Planning Works
Retirement planning is an investment in your future. But it’s also an investment in your present because it gives you immediate peace of mind.
The first phase of retirement planning involves fact finding, vision building, and estimating. Then it’s time to develop a plan that aligns your savings potential, investment strategy, and future expenses with your vision for retirement. Once your plan is implemented, the work continues, with investment oversight, risk reduction, and continually fine-tuning your plan to reflect new retirement goals or changing life circumstances.
As you might guess, retirement planning can require a significant amount of time. Our team can do much of the legwork and provide savvy guidance. The more expertise, the better the plan, which is why it’s smart to rely on an experienced CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional.
Retirement Planning Step by Step
Here’s how we approach retirement planning at Ascent.
Start with a vision.
What does retirement look like to you? Where do you hope to live? How do you want to live? (Do you plan to scale down, travel the world, visit family, volunteer, or start a new venture?) Do you plan to fully retire or work part-time? And how soon are you itching to retire? Who might you support as a retiree? A spouse? A child? A grandchild (or grandchildren)?
Answering these and other questions can help you build a vision for retirement. This is where our clients start to feel genuine excitement for the future and a greater sense of purpose.
Take stock of your financial health.
How much can you afford to save and invest towards retirement? How much of your income will continue once you retire? Part of this fact-finding phase involves looking at all of your income sources, including:
401(k), 403(b) or other employer-based plan
Deferred compensation plans
Personal investment accounts
Insurance policies or annuities
Rental or business income
We also assess how your earning potential and other income streams might increase or decrease over time.
While your income is an important consideration in retirement planning, income alone offers an incomplete picture of your financial health. We take a more holistic view of retirement planning. At Ascent, we also conduct a thorough review of your savings, investments, assets, debts and other liabilities. With a complete picture of your financial health, we can help you find solid financial footing for the journey ahead.
You’ve probably come across this general rule of thumb: plan on needing 80% of your current income to maintain your same standard of living in retirement.
Following that guidance, if you’re currently making $200,000/year, plan on needing $160,000/year in retirement. This change in spending assumes you’ll have a smaller (or non-existent) mortgage, fewer household expenses as an empty nester, and kids already through college. You also won’t be saving as heavily. This amount also takes into account average inflation and increased expenses you’ll likely face (such as medical care and long-term care).
That said, everyone has unique circumstances. Maybe you will have kids at home, or a large mortgage or you plan to take a lot more vacations. One of the most serious errors in retirement planning is underestimating future expenses. Our Ascent guides are skilled at teasing out expenses you might not anticipate. We run a sophisticated spending analysis to generate a more accurate view of your retirement expenses.
If your projected income and expenses don’t align, we’ll offer guidance on how to close the savings gap. This might include a more aggressive approach to saving, a scaled-back vision of retirement, or adjustments to your investment strategies.
Develop and implement a plan.
We understand your vision for retirement, we have a clear picture of your financial health, and we’ve estimated your expenses. All of this groundwork feeds into your retirement plan—a trusted roadmap of saving and investment strategies designed to make your retirement vision a reality. Clients who’ve gone through this process can attest: having a plan feels good.
Many people think a retirement plan hinges solely on accumulating assets and savings. The more important consideration is the level of your sustainable income—the income that you continue to receive after you retire, without jeopardizing your portfolio’s income-producing ability. Sustainable income is key to helping you live the retirement that you envisioned.
Keep it current.
Retirement planning is not a “one and done” process. If you fail to keep your plan current, your future may swing dangerously off track. Once your plan is implemented, we maintain a careful eye on your savings and investments. Asset management and risk reduction are crucial strategies from here on out. We also regularly review your retirement plan and make adjustments based on an evolving vision or changed life circumstances.
We know retirement can feel unsurmountable. But with the right guide, you can meet the challenge and come out on top. Enjoy the view that comes with financial security and a bright future. Don’t delay another day. Get started with one of our trusted financial guides.