3 Traps of Retirement

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Wouldn’t it be wonderful if before you retired you could wave a magic wand and ensure your retirement planning goes smoothly?

I mean, you have been working towards this season of your life for…well, since you were old enough to start working. It is now time to kick back and enjoy life. Unfortunately, for some, retirement is not all it’s cracked up to be and they quickly fall into several traps that, if not careful, can make their golden years lose their glow.

I want to share with you three common traps that retirees find themselves in and what you can do to avoid them.

#1. Finding themselves playing ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’

For those who don’t have a vision for their retirement, it can be easy to fall into the comparison trap. You see how others are spending their retirement, taking exotic vacations or filling their days with hobbies or volunteering (or both!) and thinking that’s how you should be spending retirement as well. But living someone else’s vision for retirement does not bring fulfillment or joy to what can be one of the most incredible seasons of your life.

It’s important to have a vision or plan for how you want to be using your time, energy and money in retirement. A clear vision allows you to prioritize what is most important to you AND ensure you can fund those priorities (more on this to come). Without a vision for what your most fulfilling retirement looks like, it’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, which you may not be able to afford. But more importantly, may not actually be how you want to invest your time and energy in retirement.

To avoid falling into this trap, you need a vision for what you want your retirement to look like. If you have a partner or spouse, it’s important to have this conversation with them as well. Chances are there are some things that each of you envisions for retirement that are unique to you, along with some elements that you will want to experience and enjoy together. Even if you’re already retired, it’s never too late to have this conversation! It brings so much clarity to what is important to you and provides a powerful filter you can use to prioritize how you invest your resources in retirement.

#2. Spending ahead of their retirement resources

Many retirees assume their lifestyle costs will decrease when they retire and that they will spend less in retirement than they did before they retired. While this may be true for a small portion of retirees, for many, this is simply not the case.

Many become accustomed to the pre-retirement lifestyle (the one enjoyed in their 50s/60s) and don’t want to give that up in retirement. Some find they’re spending more on activities than they did pre-retirement with all their newfound time freedom. While others find themselves going into retirement with all the living costs they had before they retired, including their mortgage payments. By the way, there is nothing wrong with any of these scenarios, it’s just a really important awareness to have!

How do you know if your retirement income will be able to support the lifestyle you desire throughout your retirement? By creating a retirement cash flow projection! This is where you forecast what your retirement income and lifestyle costs will likely be for the duration of your retirement years, taking into account key considerations, including inflation and investment returns. Your cash flow projection is key to ensuring you won’t run out of money in retirement!

Don’t let this be you! Take the time to understand your desired retirement cash flow that will support the lifestyle you want to enjoy during retirement, including the retirement income sources you will have, throughout your entire retirement. To be conservative, I recommend modeling these projections out to age 100.

#3. The Unplanned

Taking a long-term view of your retirement cash flow needs allows you to plan for potential future costs, including the cost of health care challenges or long-term care needs. Even more importantly, it also allows you to take into consideration potential unexpected events that will require additional cash, over and above your lifestyle costs. Examples of these unexpected events include: having to do a major home repair, needing major dental work done, an illness that requires significant out-of-pocket medical, or a family emergency. While these are not events any of us wish to experience in retirement, by considering the impact such events could have on your retirement cash flow, you can take steps to minimize the shock should any of these events occur.

It also allows you to have powerful conversations that many of us would prefer not to have (until we are forced). For example, reviewing all your insurance coverage (home, auto, health care, life, etc.) prior to retirement to ensure your coverage gives you the peace of mind you need. Also, knowing what level of financial support you are able and willing to give to family members before an emergency arises, whether it be your kids or aging parents, helps you to create healthy boundaries for yourself.

Take the time to have these conversations with your spouse or partner if you have one. If you’re single, you can make these decisions yourself or speak with a trusted friend or advisor who can be an objective sounding board for you.

Retirement is an incredible opportunity to intentionally create your dream life! Don’t let these traps stop you from being able to enjoy this amazing season in your life. If you are missing any of these pieces in your retirement planning: clear vision for your retirement, retirement cash flow projection, or planning for the unplanned, take the actions recommended above today!


If you’d prefer not to tackle your retirement planning alone, and would like the guidance and support of experienced professionals to support you, I’d like to invite you to join Lisa Broome, a finance coach and CPA, and Stehanie Chan, CEO of My Care Base, for a live interactive retirement planning workshop: Fall in Love with your Money and Flourish in Your Retirement.

During this workshop, you will discover how to confidently plan for your future needs and goal so you can enjoy peace of mind about your financial future, no matter your level of wealth, and so much more! For more information and to register click here: https://alchemyaccounting.ca/flourish-in-your-retirement

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Michelle Cooper

Michelle Cooper is a powerhouse entrepreneur, CEO of Alchemy Accounting & Bookkeeping, author of Confessions of a Money Rock Star, Your MoneyDate Journal, and co-author of the collaborative book, Women Rising. She has helped many business owners climb out of entrepreneurial poverty into the land of profit.