February 25, 2020 — Retirement is a long, and potentially hazardous journey. Like any big trip, it requires a lot of advanced planning to stay safe and get the most enjoyment. So way before you hear a chorus of bon voyages, make sure you have mastered these 7 essential topics on retirement planning.
Your budget. Nobody is ready to retire until they understand what their budget looks like. Whether you use a financial planner or accountant, or do it yourself on a spreadsheet, you have to know if the input (your income) is going to match the output (what you are going to spend). The result of that exercise will help you determine answers to most of the other steps below – whether you can afford to quit working, where you’ll live, and what you will do to stay busy (travel, recreation, etc.) Whether the answer is great (you have enough to be comfortable in your desired lifestyle), or if it is not so good (serious shortfall ahead!), going through the budget exercise gives you a sound basis for decision making. This budget worksheet in csv format contains most of the items you need to consider when developing a budget.
December 25, 2019 — It is always interesting to see what articles at Topretirements generate the most readership and comments. Out of 94 Blog articles written in 2019, these are the 10 most popular. Subjects range everywhere from 401(k) changes to the 7 Deadly Sins of Retirement. Let us know your favorites, along with any ideas for future topics you might us to tackle. To drill down on your areas of interest, you can always explore the Blog Categories on the right hand side of the page.
October 22, 2019 — Sometimes the best advice is right in front of your nose. That revelation hit us while researching a new article on retirement preparation and happiness. As we read past Member comments on various Blog articles, we found an unbelievable trove of collective wisdom! Small wonder, as you are the folks actually living and experiencing retirement – you know the territory.
So, rather than us trying to reinvent the wheel, here is a recent sample of wisdom-filled retirement preparation advice from the people who frequent Topretirements. We apologize if we didn’t select one of yours, because undoubtedly we missed many good ones and didn’t have the room for others. This is just a tiny sample, so we encourage you to go through the “Planning” category on our Blog where there are hundreds and hundreds of great comments on all kinds of retirement topics. Also, you might consider taking our “Retirement Preparation” Quiz to get an idea of the state of your planning (see “Further Reading” at bottom).
Your Wise Comments! (comment and who contributed it in ( ) )
I love retirement and wish I had retired earlier. (bill shan)
September 17, 2019 — A special Retirement supplement in the New York Times was filled with sage advice about baby boomer retirements. The Sept. 12 section had articles on topics like finances, the new retirement, finding purpose, etc. ( See link at end, you might also find it in your library). The experts and retired people interviewed there (some quoted below) sparked a whole raft of new thoughts about retirement. Particularly, it made us realize how retirement is such a different experience from any other phase of life. Retirement might even be harder, mainly because it requires a great deal of self-initiative to do it right. Here are some of our new thoughts on the retirement process.
No ritual. The founder of consulting company Age Wave, Ken Dychtwald, points out that there is a ritual associated with most of the events in our lives, but not retirement. When you started school your mother probably took you out to buy clothes, and the whole family waited for the bus to pick you up. The process of going to college meant you took tests, visited campuses, got counseling, and if lucky, had parents who gave plenty of advice. Graduations were fraught with ceremony. But on the day you retire, you might be lucky to go out for drinks with colleagues. The next day all the trappings and structure of 40 years of working disappear.
“In retirement you are in a class of one; it’s a life test with no text and no teacher”
August 27, 2019 — Seven seems to be the magic number when it comes to sacraments, dwarfs, and deadly sins. In this article we will pose our seven retirement sins – the worst mistakes you can make in retirement – the kind of error that can ruin even the most carefully thought out retirement. We hope you will add your own ideas for sins – based on your own experience.
Retire too early. Sure, many people have it in their head to retire as soon as they can. For many it is a good move, for others it is a disaster. By working longer you can save more money, have to finance fewer years with your savings, and increase your Social Security benefits. Even if you do have enough money to retire you might still not be happy. Which leads us to the next point. SEE MORE BLOG POSTS
August 6, 2019 — Perhaps the most fundamental question you face in retirement is to move or not. You might be considering retiring from the midwest, for example, to the Sunbelt. Or from the suburbs to a city or active adult community. You decision might not mean moving far; perhaps just relocating to a more age-appropriate home in the area where you live now. Whatever you decide, we think that if you are going to do a good job of retiring, you need to answer the question.
As for where to retire, that is mostly what this site is about. We’ve written all kinds of articles about the possibilities, with reviews of thousands of towns and communities to explore. So in this one we are going to try to answer some of the questions that might come up as you think about whether you should move or not. (Thanks to Jeanette Pavini of TheStreet.com for posing these questions we answered in an article at TheStreet.com)
Q: How should someone determine if they should stay in their current home/location to retire, or if they should consider moving?/
A: As we said up top, this is a hugely important question for retirees. The type of home you live in and where it is located can have a profound impact on your retirement lifestyle. Most people are comfortable living where they have always lived, so it is a big deal to consider moving. There is hassle, expense, and the fear and uncertainty of moving to the unknown. Your social life will be majorly affected.
April 22, 2019 — Have you been wondering how your retirement investments and strategies stack up to other people in your situation? Do you make the same types of investments as others… use a financial advisor… think you saved enough? Well, thanks to the almost 500 members who took the time to contribute their valuable data and insights to last week’s “The State of Your Retirement Portfolio” survey, you will know the answers to a lot of these questions. Special thanks to all contributors to the survey – we appreciate you giving back to this community!
As promised, here is a detailed report on the survey. It includes a link to 100 interesting Member comments to the survey. And you will find a list of all our previous survey reports at the end of the article.
Background This is the second time we have asked for data about your retirement investments and expectations. Here are the highlights from the most recent 14 question poll, with comparisons to the 2015 survey results when available. Detailed findings for each question are listed below that.
February 28, 2019 — We thought it would be a good idea to have a central page where all of the various Modules in our Retirement Planning 101 Course would be listed. So here is that list. As new modules are produced we will include them here. When we produced Module 1 (Introduction) you generated a raft of suggestions for the course. Here is a “Summary of Course Suggestions“.
The course is free and can be taken in almost any order (after Module 1). There are many interactive features and homework assignments. Module 4, for example, is an online quiz that will give you a score on your retirement preparation.
Comments, anyone: We would love to hear your comments and suggestions on the course, including what should (and perhaps should not) be included in the course. See also the “Many comments Made So Far” in this article .
February 20, 2019 — By now you have hopefully taken our online “Retirement Preparation Quiz” and seen your score. If you haven’t, you can take it here. Please realize that the original passing score (70%) was chosen subjectively – your opinion of the state of your retirement preparation is undoubtedly better than ours. We hope that by presenting the questions and reasons for the correct answers you can increase your understanding of retirement preparation. Note that for most of the questions we have provided a link to an article on that topic so you can explore it in greater detail.
Notes about the results
Almost 1100 people had taken the quiz as of Feb. 26. The average score for everyone taking the test was about 69%. That prompted us to lower the “passing” grade to 60% (from 70%), since many of the factual questions were difficult. In addition, for some of the questions that had more than 2 choices (e.g.; yes, no, somewhat) more than one answer might be considered acceptable. We have posted the percentage (%) of people who got each question right next the correct answers.
The questions that were most often missed were #3 and #8. Number 3 asked which of three investments had the best guarantee of income. Only 39% selected the “correct” answer, annuity, probably because people didn’t realize the key word was “income”, and assumed we meant “return”. Number 8, age of breakeven for delaying SS until age 70, was answered correctly by only 34%. We can see why, because not all experts agree on the consensus answer of 81-82. All of the questions we asked about progress on preparation and/or discussion with spouse/family members had strong results, usually 80% or better. That is good news, indicating that there is a lot of planning and discussing going on. Somewhat distressing were the responses to questions 9 and 10 on wills and health care directives. Almost one third of quiz takers do not have one or the other of those, so it is time for them to get busy on those important tasks. Only about half (53%) have spent time thinking about “late” retirement. The questions with the highest % of correct answers were those that had to do with planning on what type of community or home they want to live in – 90% or more said they had.
Question 01 What is the average life expectancy of a woman and a man aged 65 years?
90 and 86
87 (woman) and 84 (man) – Correct (64%)
80 and 77
Comment: If you manage to live to the age of 65 you still have a long way to go – on average! This is a good thing to know when you consider when to take Social Security and budget your retirement – outliving your money is not pleasant. (Note: We added the age of a woman to this question following a Member suggestion).
We had proposed 17 different potential modules for the course. The idea was that people could take as many as they felt they needed for their retirement planning preparation. The comments contained solid endorsement and/or additional ideas on six of our seventeen. But even better, you suggested seven topics we hadn’t thought of, and all of them were interesting. Another way to look at these suggestions is that they are a great reflection of people’s concerns about retirement – the topics that keep people up at night!
The new topics that got the most interest were “retiring without a lot of money”, “being single in retirement”, “loneliness and social relationships in retirement”, and “the family bind/sandwich/family relationships”. Interesting that so many have to do with the social aspect of retirement, a topic that gets overlooked in retirement planning. We have selected some of the representative suggestions below (and as you will see, they were great!). Of course, we welcome more ideas for the series too!