A beach house overlooking the shore, a place in the mountains, a calendar full of travel. Having the ability to visit and
spoil the grandkids, being able to golf a few times a week. These are some of the common goals I hear when I ask,
“What does a successful retirement look like to you?” How do we define a Successful Retirement? I like to use this
definition: Having the financial freedom to enjoy my hobbies; having the ability to leave a legacy, if I choose; and to be
able to roll with whatever life brings. At Empowered Financial Strategies, we help clients build their path towards, and
through, their Ideal Successful Retirement. We follow a 7-step process.
1.Assess your current situation
Inventory your assets and debts. Assess your investments and risk tolerance. Are they in alignment? How well
rated are the assets and are they doing as expected? Do you fully understand how much risk you have? How long
until you plan to retire and how many years will you be retired? If you have debt, outside of a mortgage and
possibly a car payment, ask yourself why. Look at your career, what are your income expectations before
retirement? Overall, how do you feel about what is going on?
2.Define your goals
First, what needs to be done before you retire? Do you plan on paying for your kids’ education? Do you take a large
family vacation every year? What home projects need to be done before retirement? If you are a business owner,
what is your exit strategy? What else needs to happen before you retire? Once you have a handle on this, develop
a clear vision of what you want in retirement. Be very specific so you can quantify financial and time costs.
We know that life doesn’t typically give us a straight path from today to our goal. Life is full of risk and you need to
do a detailed analysis of events that can throw you off course from your goals. It’s human nature to ignore risk to a
certain level, however you really want to spend time here so that you can build strategies to minimize these risks.
4.Cash Flow Analysis and Gut Check on your Relationship with Money
This is huge and often forgotten. Understand your spending today and what triggers spending is hard. Most people
never take time to look at how they feel about money and the impact to their spending and quality of life. There are
a number of exercises we offer our clients to help them understand their spending today so that we can help project
spending in retirement. Without this step, you risk saving for a lifestyle that is far from what you want.
5.Time Warp Yourself
Think as an older version of yourself and make sure you calculate costs of the older you. What will health care cost?
What will you need assistance with that you currently do yourself? What conveniences will you pay for? Most
importantly, do you understand the impact that inflation and future taxes will have on your spending goals?
Build an implementation plan that takes all of the above into account. I recommend you find a professional to
help. I like to compare how often people can see the benefit of a travel agent for helping navigate all the details and
risks of overseas travel but may not see the benefit of a Financial Advisor for a 25-year retirement.
7.Review and Update
Goals can change, situations can change. The plan needs to be able to as well.
Note: At Empowered Financial Strategies, we understand how important it is to have a good foundation of basic
financial knowledge. We offer retirement planning workshops with this end in mind. If you have a group or association
and would like us to speak, please reach out to us at Contact Us .
At Empowered Financial Strategies, we Listen to Learn and Educate to Empower.
About the author:
Carolyn Humphrey is a Financial Advisor, with licenses in areas of Life, disability, health and Long-Term Care Insurances as well as a number of FINRA licenses allowing her to work in various areas of Wealth Management. She has earned the RICP®, (Retirement Income Certified Professional), from the American College. This designation helps Financial Advisors learn about how to guard against the 18 risks that clients face in retirement. She has also earned the WMPC®, (Wealth Management Certified Professional), which is designed to help Financial Advisors build efficient portfolios for goals-based investing. Carolyn has also earned the CLF®, Certified Leadership Fellow, which has helped her in various leadership positions such as being a national trainer as well as a manager of a team of advisors. She has been married and caring for rescue pups since the early 1990’s and has been an avid Buffalo Bills fan forever.