Is envisioning retirement important?

Is envisioning retirement important?

by Monica Jennings on Aug 30, 2015

What would you guess is the #1 retirement planning concern of Americans?

Healthcare costs
Social Security decisions
Running out of money

According to one recent survey, running out of money was overwhelmingly cited as the top concern.

The AICPA presented a webcast which focused on addressing this concern by walking participants through three areas:

Envisioning Retirement
Planning for Retirement
Implementing Your plan in Retirement

I’d like to share some of the highlights and supplemental information about the first area today—envisioning retirement. We’ll get to the subsequent two in future posts.

When people talk about their plans for retirement, it’s common for them to say that they want to travel more.  That’s great. It’s certainly up there on my own list.

But you can’t travel every day, so it’s helpful to look more deeply. What would a typical day in retirement look like to you? Try to see yourself experiencing it. In vivid detail. What time are you getting up? Will you work out first? Linger over a cup of tea or coffee. What are you wearing? Will you head out of the house at some point? Where will you go? Who will you see?

If you have a spouse or partner, schedule a block of time over coffee or a glass of wine to discuss this in depth with him or her. When left unexplored, we can be very wrong about what we assume our partner wants and whether their vision is the same as our own. For example, I recently found out that my husband’s timeframe for retirement was way different from my expectations.

Why go through this?

If you’re like many people, you might be wondering why the presentation didn’t just leap into the numbers here and talk about the investments that are going to support us in retirement. That’s a reasonable expectation. As financial advisors, we often speak with people who are driven to meet with us about retirement planning, then want to dive into a discussion of their investments as soon as they’ve settled in their chairs.

I can’t think of a better way to explain why envisioning retirement is a critical first step than with this metaphor from retired financial planner, Elizabeth Jetton, CFP. “You have a 200-piece jigsaw puzzle scattered on the table in front of you. What is the first and most important piece?” The corner piece? Elizabeth’s answer: “No, it’s the picture on the cover of the box. If you don’t know what that picture is, you’re just moving pieces.”

Ready to start painting that retirement picture now? If you want some help developing your vision, you might consider reading Mitch Anthony’s book, The New Retirementality. Now in its 4th edition, Mitch offers many energizing ideas about retirement thinking and positions it as a creative opportunity.

Even if you feel it’s too early for you to devote a lot of time to thinking about retirement, the book could still be a catalyst for an awakening about wherever you are in your life.

The fact that Mitch uses the following question in his book gives you a glimpse into how he endeavors to expand our thinking.

“Did you know that every single person, from the multimillionaire to the person with little beyond Social Security, has the same amount to spend in retirement?”

Trick question? Not really. As Mitch goes on to point out--we all have exactly 168 hours per week in our account.

Isn’t that true right now?