Posts Tagged ‘retirement planning’

The Baby Boomer Challenge: Avoiding the Post-Retirement Blues

Tom SponselBy Tom Sponsel, CPA/ABV, CFF
Managing Partner

(Part 4 of 4)

After discussing the financial, planning and psychological impacts of retirement, the Baby Boomer Challenge wraps up today with a talk about the blues – the post-retirement blues.

Ask anyone who has retired recently, and you’ll discover it’s a real phenomenon. This can be especially true for go-go Type A people from the business world, who have invested so much of themselves in their career it has come to define them.

If you’re married or in a committed relationship, the first person you should be talking to is your significant other. Whatever career phase they are in themselves, understand that your retirement also impacts them. First and foremost, don’t expect them to automatically change their working life or daily pattern of activities just because you have.

I know of one gentleman retiree whose wife of 40 years sat him down shortly after his transition. I respect that you’re changing, she told him, but that doesn’t mean I am. Don’t try to treat me like an employee you can boss around. Just because we’ll be spending more time together during the weekdays doesn’t mean I want our relationship to change!

Other spouses may feel similarly, or completely the opposite. They key is to “do the dialogue.”

As discussed in the previous article, finding another activity about which you are passionate is a must, whether it’s looking after grandkids, volunteering for a charitable group or something else. Your other activity could be a “second career” that you pursue at your own pace and intensity. Be aware, though, that just as during your working life it’s easy to become overloaded. People realize you have a lot more time on your hands, and soon look to fill it with their own needs and wants.

I know of retired individuals in their 70s who say they’re busier now than they ever were during their “working” careers! Learn the power of gently and politely telling people, “No.”

Make sure to carve out some time for things you’ve always wanted to do but never had time: travel, take up a hobby, fix up an old car, create a work of art, go back to school and dive into a new fresh area of knowledge that you have always been interested in! Everybody has a “bucket list” … time to start emptying yours out!

For some, that could even be starting a second career. If you are going to make that move, do it with your eyes wide open – especially if it’s something you want to do full-time. Consult with a trusted advisor on how any earnings could impact your Social Security benefits.

Socialization is also an important ingredient in avoiding the post-retirement blues. Get together with friends, attend religious services, join or start a social group like a book club. It’s as easy as picking up the phone, or sending an email or text message.

Whatever you do, avoid the situation where you find yourself sitting at home with nothing to do. A sense of purpose is key to your feelings of self-worth. Before that was probably largely tied up with your business or the company you worked for.

Now it’s time to transition to something new. Seek out activity and engage with other people, and you will discover a fulfilling retirement where the blues stay at bay.

I recently read a book “The NEW Retirementality” by Mitch Anthony which is a comprehensive analysis of what to look for in “Retirement” and how planning requires much more than just a retirement savings account. In fact, in most cases (realizing it is all relevant) the size of your retirement savings account may be the least of your concerns. Retirement is about happiness, and you are the only one who can define that for you and your loved ones.

If you would like advice on your retirement planning, please contact Tom Sponsel at (317) 608-6691 or email

The Baby Boomer Challenge: Psychological Reality

Tom SponselBy Tom Sponsel, CPA/ABV, CFF
Managing Partner

(Part 3 of 4)

In the first two articles in The Baby Boomer Challenge, we discussed planning for retirement and the financial aspects of preparing for a post-work life. Now it’s time to talk about the psychological impact of stepping away from your career.

This can be a touchy subject, especially for business owners and managers. They are by nature can-do people, the type who focus on achieving their goals rather self-analysis of their own motivations. Having attained so much professional success, they are therefore less prepared to transition to a life that is not defined by their career.

After assisting countless people through succession planning and retirement, I can speak from authority in saying that many of them experience a loss of self-worth. They are so used to being in the thick of things that having the daily pressures of the workplace suddenly removed can feel abrupt and even traumatic.

At its most basic level, there is an adjustment to not physically going into the office every day. Recently retired people will say they don’t know what to do with themselves. There’s only so many times you can walk the dog around the block or play golf. That simple day-to-day routine of getting up and going to work gives people structure that makes them feel valued.

Another loss occurs when there is no longer a continuous stream of people seeking you out for advice and counsel. A person in a senior position can take great satisfaction from having their expertise utilized by others for the benefit of the organization. When that stops, they feel their skills and experience are no longer relevant and accordingly they believe they personally are no longer relevant!

This can translate to a sense of “losing” their professional status, which also means a hit to their self-worth. People want to know they still have something to contribute.

One can fill these gaps through exercise, hobbies, travel, watching over the grandkids and other activities. And there’s volunteerism, which is a terrific way for retirees to feel connected and appreciated.

I have seen many business executives go into the not-for-profit area, either as a part-time volunteer or a full-time position, and find a whole new identity waiting for them. They gain the socialization of the workplace as well as the utilization of their skillset.

Another option is to keep working but in a limited role. An emeritus position, perhaps a day or two per week, can allow a manager to feel like they are still contributing. A role that focuses on mentoring up-and-coming leaders can be especially satisfying.

This can bring its own set of challenges, of course. I spoke with one former executive who said that, even though he enjoyed coming into the office, it was difficult seeing someone else occupying his old office and leadership role.

He eventually sought professional counseling to get through this phase – something that is not at all unusual. There is no stigma in asking for help, and is something that should be actively encouraged.

By all means, if you’re approaching retirement age and don’t feel like stepping away – don’t! I know of some executives who refuse to even utter the word “retirement” because they fear the unknown. There’s no rule that says you have to retire when you’re 65, or 75, or even 85!

But sooner or later, nearly all of us will be faced with transitioning to a post-working phase of life. Don’t underestimate the emotional aspects of this change. The key is to explore this new terrain with the same gusto that they brought to conquering their professional endeavors.

The key “take-away” of this article is that if you or other loved ones are approaching the “retirement phase,” approach it with honesty and realism. Retirement is different for everyone. I know individuals who are still working into their 80s and are loving it! And others who retired at age 55 and would not change a thing.

In each case their success was determined by a deliberate analysis (along with their spouse) and an intentional plan for a Happy Retirement!

Look for the final installment in this series next month as we discuss transitioning into your post-retirement life.

If you would like assistance with your retirement planning, please contact Tom Sponsel at (317) 608-6691 or email

The Baby Boomer Challenge: Financial Aspects

Nick HopkinsBy Nick Hopkins, CPA, CFP®
Partner, Director of Tax Services

(Part 2 of 4)

In the first part of The Baby Boomer Challenge, we talked about the planning and preparation that should come before retirement. We discussed the questions Boomers should be asking themselves, such as when, where and how they want their post-working life to take shape.

Now it’s time to take a closer look at the financial aspects of retirement planning.

For Boomers’ mom and dad, the old rule of thumb for retirement was that they should plan to live on an income equal to 50% to 60% of their working income. This was usually made up by a combination of Social Security benefits, a company pension plan and perhaps some modest investments.

Times have changed, and those metrics have transformed with them. Fixed pension plans have mostly gone away. The long-term liquidity of Social Security is questionable. Half of your previous income may not fund the lifestyle you desire. So your road map for saving and investing for retirement needs to keep up with reality.

First, analyze what your Social Security benefit would be depending on the age you retire. Look at your 401k or other retirement accounts, and any other investments you have. Sit down with a trusted financial advisor to determine what sort of income these assets will generate during retirement.

Now that you have an estimate of what’s going to be coming in, it’s time to look at the “going out.” As discussed in the last article, you should firm up your idea of how you want to live in retirement. It may include travel, a second home near family or things on your “bucket list.” Some of these things may represent a significant cost, while others are financially nominal.

Finished visualizing? OK, now it’s time to put a dollar amount on all that. Develop a household budget, based on what you’re currently spending and an estimate of what it will be post-retirement.

Make sure to include things like insurance and medical costs in this phase. Healthcare is often one of the biggest expenses as we grow older. Consider getting Medicare supplement insurance or fund a health savings account prior to retirement. Life insurance past a certain age becomes an issue of rising cost versus return. Again, talk to the experts you know and trust.

Now comes the daunting part: seeing how your estimate of income and expenses square up with each other.

Many people who do this exercise immediately recognize a significant shortfall. That’s why it’s important to do planning early on, so you can take action ahead of time.

If you’re still paying off a large mortgage or have a heavy load of credit card debt, that can siphon off a lot of discretionary income during retirement. Initiate a plan — be it for 5, 10 years or more — to eliminate or significantly lower your debt obligations.

Doing this will help crystalize your thinking, and see where your plan may need altering. Perhaps you’ll have to work a year or two longer than expected, or consider part-time work to make up the difference. You might even have to face the prospect that your retirement dreams were a little too “pie in the sky,” and require scaling back.

The point is to start this process as early as possible so you can give yourself choices ahead of time. You don’t want to wait until you’ve filed your retirement paperwork to realize you don’t have the financial security to walk out the door.

The good news is people are living longer and longer. If you’re 65 years old and in good health, it’s not unreasonable to expect to live another 15 or 20 years enjoying life after years of hard work. But the bounty of longevity also means you need to be proactive in putting your financial house in order before retirement.

In next month’s article, we’ll talk about coping with the psychological reality of stepping away from the workplace.

If you to talk to an expert about your financial portfolio in preparation for retirement, please call Nick Hopkins at (317) 608-6695 or email

The Baby Boomer Challenge: Planning for Retirement

Tom SponselBy Tom Sponsel, CPA/ABV, CFF
Managing Partner

(Part 1 of 4)

In 2016 the first wave of Baby Boomers turns 70. The youngest are already in their 50s. So if they have not already taken the off-ramp to retirement, they should already be thinking seriously about it.

This article is the first in a four-part series we’re calling The Baby Boomer Challenge. It’s a mental call-to-arms for the generation that helped change the world – as well as those who came after.

A group that has been defined by passion and a thirst for exploring new things should apply that same zeal toward planning their post-career life – financially and psychologically.

Whether you’re 50 or 70, you need to start thinking about the retirement you want while you’re still working. Talk to your spouse or significant other. Seek counsel from people you trust. Tap expert advisors!  And start asking a lot of questions.

These should include:

  • When do I want to stop working? When does my spouse want me to stop?
  • Do I want to keep working, but not full-time?
  • What kind of lifestyle do I want post-retirement?
  • Where are we going to live? The same city or move elsewhere? Urban or Suburbia?
  • Do we want to downsize to a smaller place now that our homestead seems oversized?
  • If we do move, is it better to rent or buy? House or apartment?
  • What steps do I need to take to get ready for retirement?

For entrepreneurs or business owner/managers, it may well be that they don’t ever see themselves completely leaving the company. If you have good health and truly enjoy the work, there’s nothing to prevent you from continuing into your 70s or even 80s.

But maybe step away from a top leadership role. Talk with your business partners about coming in a day or two a week in a support or advisory role. You may find that your presence and experience is still a valued asset they want to retain. Can you allow yourself to participate without being “In Charge”?

If you are prepared to walk away entirely, changing where you live can help you make that mental “break” between your old life and the new – and may make good financial sense as well.

Many successful people already find themselves having a second home, whether it’s a house they own in Florida or Arizona, an apartment near children/grandkids or just a time-share in a popular vacation destination.

If that’s already the spot you go to relax and unwind, it may be the place where you should spend most of your time. If you do take the “snowbird” path of migrating with the seasons, consider whether it makes sense to maintain Indiana resident status or not.

Also consider any looming health and medical issues that may impact you or your loved ones’ lifestyle. Weigh how that might affect your retirement picture, such as needing to work longer and save more. Or, conversely, retiring early to lighten the physical and mental load.

As you’re hashing through these questions, make sure to talk to your extended family, too. Think about what you want to do in retirement – and what you don’t want to do. Some people want to travel the world. Others want to stay close to family.

Retirement is all about making choices. And the more prudent Baby Boomers invest in significant planning and they find that results in   more choices for a successful retirement.

Look for next month’s article, which will focus on the financial aspects of retirement planning.

If you need advice on preparing for retirement, please contact Tom Sponsel at (317) 608-6691 or email

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