Questions You Must Be Able to Answer to Have a Successful Retirement
Do You Have Responses to these Critical Retirement Planning Considerations?
All retirees have their own unique beliefs about what a successful retirement looks like, yet too many are unable to answer important financial questions about achieving that success. And, when you can’t find answers to your most pressing money questions, it’s difficult to feel financially secure.
In our 50+ years of experience, we’ve come to realize that there are nine specific questions you need to be able to answer about your money in order to plan – and achieve – a successful retirement:
- How much money can you safely take out of your assets for income?
- How long will your money actually last?
- Can you guarantee you will never run out of money?
- How can you protect your assets from volatility and losses?
- How much income tax will you pay on your income distributions?
- How much will you lose if the market takes another big drop?
- Is it OK to start spending some of your money?
- What are the total fees you are really paying and how can you reduce them?
- What is going to happen if you or your spouse pass away?
If you can’t answer these nine questions, it means your retirement planning is based on hope and luck – not the best recipe for success. Read on to learn Momma’s Secret Recipe, instead.
Question #1: How much money can you safely take out of your assets for income?
If you’re sure how much income you can take out of your assets, you may not be taking as much as you could because you’re worried about running out. Conversely, you may be taking too much – running the risk that you WILL run out. Either way, you are not in an optimal position.
Question #2: How long will your money actually last?
If you don’t know how long your money will truly last, you will either take less income than you could or worse yet, take no income at all because you are worried about running out of money. This means you may have to do without and continue to be saddled with worry.
SEE ALSO: 7 Steps for a Secure Retirement
Question #3: Can you guarantee you will never run out of money for as long as you live?
One of the biggest fear retirees and pre-retirees have is running out of money during their lifetimes, and if you can’t guarantee your income won’t run out, you may continue to feel anxious and fearful about using your money. The key here is to learn how to create “Certain Income” from your assets that will never run out, for as long as you live.
Question #4: How can you protect your assets from volatility and losses?
If you lived through 2000-2002 and 2007-2009, and you’re currently weathering the effects of COVID-19 on the economy, you probably are a little, (OK, a lot!) worried about volatility and losses. If your assets have a high level of volatility, you may need to limit how much income you take out. If you are taking income distributions from your assets while they suffer through volatility and losses, the negative impacts of the volatility and losses are magnified. Fees, of course, increase the severity of losses.
Question #5: How much income tax will you pay on your income distributions from your assets?
Retirees and pre-retirees generally fear big losses and running out of money, but they’re also often afraid of income tax burdens. Many retirees believe they will pay a huge amount of income taxes if they use their assets for income, so they don’t use their assets. The fact is, many of these same retirees will not be in a high enough effective income tax bracket to impair their ability to take the income they planned for through retirement.
Question #6: How much will you lose in the next big stock market crash?
Until the global pandemic, the stock market was on a path of all-time highs. So, even before COVID=19 changed the economic landscape, many people worried about the next big stock market crash. In fact, some people are almost always wondering when the next market correction will come and how impactful it will be. If you have no idea how much you could lose, this only increases your anxiety about your money.
Question #7: Is it OK to start spending some of your money?
A large percentage of retirees decide not to use their assets for income when they retire because they are worried about losses, their money running out, income taxes, and not leaving enough for their beneficiaries. Think about it, though – the reason many of you saved your money while you were working was to be able to use it to create income during retirement. So, if you’re afraid to use your money now that you are retired you are unlikely to do all the things you planned to do. If you can guarantee your income won’t run out for as long as you live, you can eliminate your fear of running out of money.
SEE ALSO: The Reality of Saving for Retirement
Question #8: What are the total fees you are really paying and how can you reduce them?
We believe the overwhelming majority of retirees and pre-retirees are not aware of the true cost of having their assets managed. Most people believe they are paying “about 1%,” but when we perform fee audits as part of a Second Opinion About Your Money, we estimate that the average retiree is paying approximately 3.25% in direct and indirect (i.e. hidden) fees. This is a shame, as the typical retiree with a proper plan may be able to substantially reduce the fees they are paying.
Question #9: What’s going to happen if you or your spouse pass away?
It’s a very difficult conversation to have, discussing what happens if you or your spouse pass away. What will happen to the survivor? Will your finances continue to be secure? Will your lifestyle have to change? Because these are difficult and emotional topics, you may avoid them. However, not knowing the answers to these questions is far worse than having the conversation.
What to Do if You Can’t Answer These Questions
The goal of prudent and proper retirement planning is to develop a plan that can answer all of these questions because if you can answer all of these questions, you will significantly increase your probability of having a successful retirement. It’s next to impossible to answer them all on your own, and oftentimes brokers and financial advisors struggle to provide you with all the answers you need, too.
At Peak Financial Freedom Group, we’ve made it our life’s work to help our clients answer these questions and live out the retirements of their dreams. We believe that knowledge is power, and we take pride in helping retirees just like you live fulfilling lives by reducing their overall financial anxieties. Contact us today to begin the conversation, or check out our book, Momma’s Secret Recipe for Retirement Success, for more on how you can create the retirement you’ve always dreamed of.
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