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Redefine Retirement: Plan to Live Life on Your Terms!

April 30, 2020

Will you celebrate Mother’s and Father’s Day this May and June? Perhaps you’ll spend time honoring your Mom and Dad. Maybe someone will seek out time to acknowledge you and all that you’ve done. Recently I spent time with my parents, who will turn 70 and 81 this year. As we lingered over Mom’s homemade apple pie in their dining room, I realized how fortunate I am. First, I am blessed to learn from my parents; as they navigate the aging process with care, grace, and intention they often share with me both successes and challenges. And second, I am privileged to work with clients daily to plan financially for changes in their lives so that they can manage their own futures with confidence.

Many Americans are living longer lives than previous generations and different people prepare financially for this reality in various ways. From when they first started working as a college professor and high school teacher, my parents diligently monitored their expenses and saved and invested regularly over time. While they enjoyed their work as teachers, they did aspire some day to retire, and they understood that the decisions they made daily around their finances decades before retirement began would impact their future choices.

When my parents started their retirement, they embraced their new lifestyle. Their schedules varied day to day and week to week. Some days were free of any commitments or obligations, and they enjoyed choosing to do something spontaneous or do nothing at all – “just be” as Dad would say. At other times their days were so filled with activities, from lunches with friends to volunteer work to exercise and Church, that Mom and Dad would joke, “How did we ever find time to work before retirement?” I’ll never forget one crisp October morning when my parents knew that my brother would be visiting my husband and me in Connecticut, they secretly made the 5+ hour trip to our home, surprised us at our doorstep and, together, we all went pumpkin picking. What memories they created for all of us that day!

Over time, the pace of my parents’ retirement lifestyle changed. After a few years of retirement, they mentioned that they preferred driving in the daylight to driving in the dark, so they changed “dinner date nights” to “lunch dates”. And a while later, when we’d all get together for family weekends, they explained that mornings “took a bit more time than they used to,” so we agreed we’d go to Church on Saturday evenings rather than Sunday mornings.

And just last year, the unforeseen happened. My father, a dedicated gardener, got a tick bite and was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. It was incredibly disruptive and very challenging for him and my Mom. Dad suddenly was exhausted all of the time, unable to enjoy life in the way he and Mom were accustomed; and Mom took on new and additional tasks as Dad focused on recovery. They began paying different professionals to take care of home maintenance tasks that they had covered by themselves for years. The reality that they were embarking on a new stage in their retirement lifestyle became very clear when they shared somberly with my brother, husband, and me that they no longer felt they could make the trip to where we live because “it was just too much”.

I am grateful for Mom and Dad’s honesty and courage and how they’re sharing their retirement journey with me. We as a family are living the reality that I strive to help clients and their families consider and plan for financially; retirement can be a 30+ year experience filled with different life changes.

Over the years, I have developed hundreds of financial plans for clients. With the majority of Americans expected to live into their 80s, each of these financial plans now projects men and women living into their 90s. When clients share with me that retirement is a goal for them, our conversation delves into what retirement looks like for them. Given longevity, technology, and trends like the “gig economy” and “encore careers,” retirement may include part-time work, side hustles, consulting, and a myriad of experiences at different ages. A retiree needs to consider income, expenses, assets, debts, and quite honestly, energy levels and health.

If retirement is important to you, ensure you are planning not just for the first few years of the experience, but for the decades that could comprise this life stage. For more information on trends in longevity, aging, and retirement planning, join me on Saturday May 9 at Panera Bread in Westport Connecticut for “Second Saturdays with Caroline”. For more info, check out Caroline Wetzel CFP on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, and visit: https://secondsaturdayscarolinewetzelcfp.eventbrite.com/

Caroline Wetzel is one of Natural Nutmeg’s 2019 and 2018 10Best Winners for Business/Life Coach. Caroline is a Certified Financial PlannerTM (CFP®) and Vice President, Private Wealth Advisor with Procyon Private Wealth Partners, LLC. Procyon Private Wealth Partners, LLC and Procyon Institutional Partners, LLC (collectively “Procyon Partners”) are registered investment advisors with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). This article is provided for informational purposes only and for the intended recipient[s] only. This article may also include opinions and forward-looking statements which may not come to pass. Information is at a point in time and subject to change. Procyon Partners does not provide tax or legal advice.

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