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Ways to thrive in retirement
How to make your retirement rewarding and meaningful
Does the conventional vision of retirement seem a little boring to you? Sure, maybe you like golf and might even enjoy an occasional trivia night battle, but those things alone won’t be enough for someone who has always been active, engaged and driven. Chances are you want something bigger: new challenges, exciting adventures and meaningful relationships or experiences. Perhaps you even want an encore career.
You’re right to want these things. Research shows that having a purpose-driven retirement can promote good health and increase happiness.
And you’re in luck. With more options than ever before, adventure awaits you in retirement. Especially with senior stereotypes being shattered thanks to healthier, longer lives. How will you make it truly yours?
Explore the world
Want to combine lifelong learning with your passion for travel? Road Scholar offers learning adventures across the globe, such as a trip to France to learn about D-Day or a birding adventure in remote Ecuador.
If you want to instead spend three weeks immersing yourself in Andalusia, Spain, during which you learn a few steps of flamenco, make an authentic paella with a local chef and take Spanish classes, you might enjoy Smithsonian Journeys’ Living in Spain experience. Smithsonian Journeys offers other cultural immersions, allowing you to see, feel, hear and taste how locals live in cities, such as Provence, France, and Florence, Italy. You can also work with specialists to design your own dream trip.
Mentor and give back
If you’d prefer to change your corner of the world instead, considering mentoring even if you’ve already left your 9-to-5 gig.
You can further burnish your business legacy as an advisory board member for a company, which would also provide an additional income stream, for example. Another way to share your business acumen and wisdom is through joining the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), whose members mentor small business owners.
Or perhaps you want to trade the high-powered world you occupied for service in an underserved community. If so, consider joining the AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparent program, in which seniors help students with their academic goals, care for premature infants or children with disabilities, and mentor troubled teenagers and young parents.
No matter what your particular cause, you can likely find a way to support it through VolunteerMatch, which connects volunteers with local nonprofits. Or you can become a CoGenerate Fellow that works with a social impact organization that needs your skills and experience.
Strengthen a community of like-minded people
You may even find your future home among communities that you identify with. For example, Fountaingrove Lodge is an LGBTQ+ luxury retirement community in Santa Rosa, California. Open since 2014 and with designed craftsman-style features and architecture, Fountaingrove Lodge’s amenities include a movie theater, wine cellar, and programs in music, visual and culinary arts.
If you care about sustainability and renewable energy, you might consider moving to Babcock Ranch. Open to individuals of all ages, Babcock Ranch is a planned community in Southwest Florida and America’s first solar-powered town.
Or perhaps you want to stay where you are but strengthen your community’s ability to support its seniors living independently in their own homes. If so, you might look to Beacon Hill Village as a potential model. This member-led community of independent adults aged 50 and older connect with and care for one another through a variety of support services, social and wellness programs, and cultural and educational activities. The village model that started in Beacon Hill has now spread to approximately 350 other locations in the United States, and you can learn more about this approach on the Village to Village Network website.
Build a new community or opportunity
Not seeing exactly what you’re looking for in the options described above? Your advisor likely has walked clients through the options before and may be able to point you in the right direction. Perhaps your dream retirement is still out there somewhere – or maybe you can be the enterprising individual to build it. After you’ve spent your first career building a company or a life for you and your family, why not build the specific vision of retirement that you want to see?
After all, the village approach to retirement was built by individuals who envisioned a better way to live as they got older. You too can build the community, program or resource you want most.
- Take time to explore alternative visions of retirement and think about what your ideal retirement looks like.
- Share your plans with your financial advisor to discuss whether any adjustments to your retirement savings strategy are needed.
- Talk to family and friends about how you envision your retirement and how they can help.
Sources: raymondjames.com; money.usnews.com; gobankingrates.com; secondwindmovement.com; knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu; inc.com; cnbc.com; woodworkersjournal.com; villagesnw.org; lasellvillage.com; roadscholar.org; bedtimesmagazine.com; score.org
Paying down debt
Strategies for minimizing interest payments and eliminating debt
If you’ve accumulated more credit card debt than you can pay off in a few months, how can you quickly eliminate that debt while minimizing your interest payments?
The particular strategy you should follow will depend on many factors, including the total amount of debt, the nature of the debt, your credit score, your income and your financial plans. Because there are so many factors to consider, it’s best to talk to your advisor about the specifics of your situation, but below we share some general guidance.
A small amount of debt
If you’ve accrued a few thousand dollars in credit card debt, but you will be able to pay it off in 12 to 21 months, consider applying for a credit card with an introductory 0% APR period as well as a 0% balance transfer fee. The length of the 0% APR period can range from 15 to 21 months. If approved for the card, you could transfer your debt to it and pay it off during the 0% APR period, thereby avoiding any interest charges. The money you save can grow significantly, given the power of compounding.
However, before applying for the card, consider whether you plan on purchasing a home in the near future or applying for another type of loan. Applying for a new credit card might lower your credit score enough to negatively impact your loan application or the loan interest rate.
A significant amount of debt
If your debt is so substantial that you won’t be able to pay it off during the introductory period on a new credit card, you may want to seek a personal loan with a fixed interest rate. This interest rate is likely to be lower than the variable interest rate on your credit cards, and you can use the loan to pay off all the credit cards.
To choose the most favorable loan terms, you would want to use a debt consolidation calculator to compare different loan term options and the amount of savings each provides. Your advisor can also help you with the back-of-the-envelope calculations and parse your options (e.g., a securities-based line of credit).
Before seeking a loan, speak to your financial advisor about the specifics of your situation. They have likely helped others in the past who are battling debt issues and can help you find an objective way forward. If part of the debt is for medical bills, for example, your advisor may counsel you to first pursue having the medical debt forgiven. Your advisor may also recommend a nonprofit debt relief program, with counselors who will help you devise a debt reduction strategy for a small monthly service fee.
These counselors, along with other trusted financial professionals, can also recommend strategies that may help you avoid future debt problems.
- Speak to your advisor about the details of your debt situation.
- Use online calculators to explore various debt reduction strategies.
- Compare nonprofit debt management program offerings and fees.
Inflation and retirement
Top strategies for planning for and responding to inflation during retirement
If you’re close to or in retirement, recent inflation has likely been unnerving, particularly given that stock markets have experienced significant volatility since early 2022. That is, you’re looking at higher prices while parts of your portfolio have lost value and your purchasing power has slipped. So, how should you respond to protect your retirement goals?
When it comes to investing, the best strategy generally is to think long term, develop a plan with your advisor and don’t panic. The long-term planning and diversification you and your financial professional have already done were designed to help you weather multiple scenarios, including rising inflation and zigzagging markets.
But what if you’re in or nearing retirement? Then do you have cause to panic? No. There’s still time to adjust your strategy and/or cut costs, and chances are your current retirement savings (paired with inflation-adjusted Social Security benefits) are already diversified enough to withstand inflation.
Maximize steady income
Social Security benefits and other annuitized income can help you keep pace with inflation during retirement. Most retirees, with a few exceptions, receive Social Security retirement benefits, which include a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) designed to keep pace with inflation.
Because Social Security benefits are adjusted based on inflation, a portion of your retirement portfolio is already automatically protected from a significant erosion in purchasing power.
You can further strengthen your protection from inflation by including annuities with COLAs in your portfolio. Annuities are insurance contracts that pay out invested funds in defined, guaranteed monthly payments in the future (regardless of how the market is doing). When you choose an annuity, you can select one that includes a COLA to further strengthen this guaranteed source of income. Guarantees are based on the paying ability of the issuer.
Hurry up and wait
A diversified retirement portfolio may reduce inflation risks because some of the asset classes within it may perform well during times of high inflation, balancing out lost value from other asset classes.
But what if you’re in or near retirement and fear you don’t have enough time to make up for losses? That fear may drive action, but it’s likely better to do nothing at first. It’s time to use your sounding board. Before you make any changes to your financial plan, it’s critical that you consult with your family and financial professionals to temper heightened emotions. Because each person’s needs, goals and options are unique, a customized strategy based on your long-term goals is essential.
There is no assurance any investment strategy will be successful. Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of capital. Diversification does not guarantee a profit nor protect against loss.
- Work with your advisor to develop a long-term financial plan.
- Examine your portfolio and research annuitized income sources to determine if they are right for you.
- Avoid making emotionally driven or hasty investment decisions.