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