For many clients, outliving their money is their greatest worry heading into retirement. Unfortunately, that concern is not unfounded. Today’s retirees are experiencing greater longevity than ever. Can most of them comfortably live 30 years or more in retirement? Research from Edward Jones’ latest study with Age Wave says probably not unless they are willing to make adjustments along the way. In fact, approximately six in ten Americans say they can afford a comfortable retirement lasting more than ten years while only 30% say they can afford a retirement lasting more than 20 years.
Retirees and pre-retirees are not the only ones concerned about their well-being in their later years. Two-thirds of Millennials are concerned their parents or in-laws may not have enough money to live out their retirement.
Planning for The New Retirement
In the past, retirement was viewed as a time for rest and relaxation, but today’s retirees view this time of life as a new chapter full of opportunities and adventures. To help clients fulfill their dreams and live comfortably throughout this new, often longer retirement, financial advisors need to do much more than help them plan for financial well-being. They need to help their clients build a comprehensive, customized plan that addresses all four pillars of the new retirement – health, family, purpose and finances. Once that comprehensive plan is in place, clients need their financial advisor to serve as a guide, to walk with them through retirement offering counsel on needed adjustments and course corrections along the way.
Like all chapters in life, retirees are likely to experience major challenges that can derail their retirement plans- like a cannonball; or relatively minor bumps in the road that cause setbacks- more like a curveball. According to our research, the most common cannonballs and curveballs retirees experience impact one or more of the four pillars including having a family member or close friend pass away, personal health issues, coping with a spouse or partner’s health issues or significant financial setbacks. There are also unexpected pre-retirement events such as a debilitating illness or forced early retirement that can impact plans for the future.
The good news is that retirees and pre-retirees recognize that thriving in the new retirement requires preparation, adaptability, and resilience. Most say they are confident in their ability to handle the unexpected curveballs and cannonballs that can occur, especially if they have a trusted advisor working with them.
Health Course Corrections
When it comes to physical and mental health, nearly all retirees say it’s even more important than wealth when it comes to thriving in retirement. With continually rising healthcare costs, staying healthy as long as possible in retirement impacts both quality of life and financial well-being. Although nearly 95% of Americans over age 60 have at least one chronic condition , making changes to their lifestyle can have a tremendous impact on their quality of life. Here is an example:
A 64-year-old man was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and has a family history of heart disease. To better manage his health, he invests in a continuous blood glucose monitor to monitor his blood sugar. He commits to lowering his BMI, cholesterol, and blood pressure by starting a workout routine that includes going to the gym three times a week and walking, hiking, or biking on other days. He also adjusts his diet by increasing fiber and lean protein while reducing sugar, saturated fat, and processed foods. Finally, he schedules annual endocrinology, foot, and eye exams.
As a result of his health course corrections, he loses 30 pounds, reduces his cholesterol by 27 points, begins sleeping better, and feels better physically and mentally. He maintains a healthier blood sugar level, reducing his risk of heart disease and potential problems with his eyes, kidneys, feet, and nerves.
The financial benefits he experiences include an estimated 23% lower annual out-of-pocket healthcare costs, and a reduced likelihood or length of stay in long-term care. He also increases the likelihood that he will live three to ten years longer, giving him more time to enjoy the things he loves – and the need to fund more years of retirement.*
Family Course Corrections
Close family relationships and a network of good friends help ward off social isolation, a contributor to mental decline and a challenge for almost 25% of Americans 65 and older . According to our study, more than half of retirees have increased quality time spent with family, with grandparents reporting that spending quality time with grandchildren significantly improved their lives.
Another course correction is setting boundaries with family members about how much time and money retirees can afford to spend on them. This is a challenge for six in ten pre-retirees and half of retirees. However, the benefits of setting and maintaining financial boundaries with family members are huge.
For example, in talking with their financial advisor, a couple discovers their generosity with family members is putting their financial security at risk. They decide to work with their financial advisor to create a plan to phase out financial support for their two adult children. Then they have individual conversations with each child to empower them to be more financially independent. As a result, they can increase their financial security by $128,000 over the next seven years by investing $15,000 each year that would have otherwise been spent on supporting their adult children, foster their children’s financial independence and establish clarity around legacy and end-of-life preferences.*
Purpose Course Corrections
Having a sense of purpose in retirement can tick off boxes in multiple retirement pillars. Retirees who have a purpose are happier, healthier, more active, and more socially engaged . It shouldn’t be surprising that these retirees also live longer.
Retirees can find purpose in many ways including trying new things, volunteering, or becoming more active in their faith community or even adopting a pet. Working in retirement is another way retirees are rediscovering a sense of purpose.
A little over 25% said they have already worked in retirement, according to the research. Another 45% would consider working to improve their financial security while 35% would work just to stay physically active, socially engaged and to feel a sense of accomplishment. Perhaps even more encouraging, two-thirds of pre-retirees would prefer to phase into retirement.
Phasing into or working in retirement can be a trade-off that delivers a huge benefit to financial security. Retirees can earn more income, accumulate more retirement savings, and delay or reduce tapping into their retirement savings and Social Security benefits. Here is an example of the level of impact it can have on your clients.
A couple enjoys the sense of purpose their work gives them and decides to transition into retirement over the next five years. The wife reduces her schedule to 30 hours a week and maintains health and retirement benefits. Her husband begins consulting and makes $70,000 a year. They contribute $15,000 a year into retirement and receive a $3,700 match from the wife’s employer. In addition to staying mentally, physically, and socially engaged, the financial windfall for phasing into retirement is $372,000.*
The SECURE Act 2.0 can be another incentive for clients to phase into retirement. However, our research shows that less than a quarter of those surveyed were aware of the new legislation suggesting a clear opportunity to educate clients on how it might impact their retirement plans.
Financial Course Corrections
Of course, two of the most impactful financial course corrections retirees and pre-retirees can make are reducing debt and increasing savings. The good news is that half of retirees report having reduced or eliminated big debt items with the goal of being more financially secure.
Saving as much as possible while working is another strategy that improves financial well-being in retirement. Unfortunately, only about four in ten retirees and pre-retirees said they saved as much income as possible when they were working. Even more troubling is that nearly 25% of those with access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan don’t participate , and of those that do participate, only 12% max out their contributions . Only 16% of those over 50 take advantage of catch-up contributions.
Having a trusted advisor to avoid missing these retirement savings opportunities and to navigate life’s curveballs and cannonballs can have a huge impact on financial security in retirement. For example, a recently divorced 50-year-old woman meets with a financial advisor to develop a strategy to improve her retirement savings. In executing her strategy, she finds a higher-paying job earning an additional $10,000 a year and a better retirement savings match with her employer contributing an additional $4,200 per year. She finds a housemate to share housing costs and actively budgets to reduce monthly spending resulting in a savings of $17,000 per year. She is able to contribute $27,000 more per year into her 401(k) so by age 65, her retirement balance has gone from $237,000 to $992,000.*
Financial Advisors Give Investors Confidence to Manage Changes
According to the latest report, more than a quarter of retirees and pre-retirees work with financial advisors and they are more likely to feel confident about handling unexpected financial changes than those who don’t work with a financial advisor.
Perhaps the most encouraging news in the report is that retirees and pre-retirees understand the value of comprehensive financial planning and advice. In fact, most of those who work with a financial advisor, or are open to doing so, want them to provide holistic retirement strategies.
Today’s retirees are approaching retirement with optimism and enthusiasm, and many are eager to learn about all the options available to them and how much control they have over improving their lives. Remaining flexible and having a trusted financial advisor to walk with them through life’s curveballs and cannonballs before and during retirement provides confidence for clients and can make all the difference between surviving and thriving in retirement.
*For assumptions and sources on course correction examples, find the full report, Resilient Choices: Trade-Offs, Adjustments, and Course Corrections to Thrive in Retirement at edwardjones.com/newretirement.