The Stages of Retirement

By Mike Gertsema, Senior Wealth Advisor

When we meet with most of our clients, we discuss retirement in different stages that we call the Go-Go Years, the Slow-Go Years, and the No-Go Years.

The Go-Go Years

The Go-Go Years are the first 10 to 15 years of retirement. Most clients want to explore their newfound freedom and generally start thinking about all the things they once wished they could do if they had the time.

It’s also a time to dream about what they truly enjoy doing such as hobbies, activities, or organizations and charities they’d like to be more active in. It’s a time to look at the bucket list and start exploring.

The Go-Go Years are usually the most expensive years because you’re no longer working full-time and saving – instead of saving you’re spending. Investments must be repositioned for retirement income with a more conservative approach.

The Slow-Go Years

The Slow-Go Years tend to be the “been there, done that” years.  You’re moving slower with health issues creeping into your life. You’re still doing the fun things that you were doing 10 or 15 years ago, but less of them.

Spending slows down as well.  The Slow-Go Years are the years that clients think about downsizing everything, including their home.  Having a home with everything on one level, no steps and low or no maintenance is very appealing. The interest in keeping up the yard, mowing, and snow removal is gone, and the ultimate goal is maintenance-free living.

The No-Go Years

The No-Go Years are much slower, with people just enjoying the simple things in life. Going out for dinner a couple of times a week may be enough excitement for them. The spending in the No-Go Years is usually very minimal.

It’s the stage in life when clients either reduce their monthly distributions or want to stop them all together. Their checking and savings accounts are growing due to the lack of spending unless health issues become a problem.

Reframing Retirement

When we go through the three stages of retirement our clients sometimes come up with very different ways of looking at things.

An example is one client of ours who really loves Christmas.  The thought of Christmas baking, decorating the house, and spending time with the family is the annual event for her that brings joy.

Another client can’t wait to go Christmas shopping with his son the day before. It’s an annual event that they look forward to and he thoroughly enjoys just thinking of it.

Another client loves Thanksgiving – the food, the family, and the football. The guys watch football, the gals sit and visit while all the kids get together to play games and create great memories.

Another client loves summer and the 4th of July. The weather’s usually great, being outside for family cookouts, camping, fishing, and sitting around the campfire brings a smile to his face.

The sobering question is, “How many Christmases do I have left?” or “How many Thanksgivings do I have left?” or “How many 4th of Julys do I have left?”

We’ve had 65-year-olds that say, “Maybe I have 15 Christmases left, or 15 Thanksgivings left, or 15 summers left.”  I like thinking about retirement in the three stages, but when clients start talking to me in years left, it’s a game changer because I’m thinking in terms of 30 years and they’re thinking 15.

The priority is to enjoy those 15 years without running out of money if they live longer and still be able to leave a legacy to their heirs.

A Solid Strategy Is Best

Clients spend their entire lives saving money for retirement thinking it’s somewhere in the future until the day arrives. Most people do the best they can saving money for retirement and hope they’ve done well.  We all know hope is not a good strategy.

The beauty of financial planning is with client’s input we can help them plan for those 15 years and beyond.  Knowing the three stages of retirement over the long haul and knowing the 15-year special holidays mindset of our clients we’re able to illustrate the sometimes-emotional path.

Financial planning is not all about investing, it’s about you and your mindset for retirement.  Personally, when I look at retirement in terms of 15 good summers left, it’s an awakening. The question is how do you want to spend your next 15 summers?

We empower you to make life’s decisions on your terms and helping you design your next 15 summers is an honor that we don’t take lightly.

To learn more or to schedule a conversation, contact us online or call/text us at 816-259-5060.

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