Retirement Planning Beyond the Numbers


Some of the best advice retirees should listen to today is not about their wallets – it’s about their overall lifestyle and family considerations.

Recognizing that 75 has become the new 62, what other aspects of retirement beyond “running the numbers” need to be considered to have a long, successful life? Here are some things to consider:

Consider shared housing. The title characters in the sitcom “Golden Girls” were ahead of their time. A quiet trend is the increase in shared housing, or non-related people living together. Over the past 10 years, the number of non-family households increased by 16 percent. More than 1 million single women over age 45 live with a roommate who isn’t a relative. The impact of housing choices as people age is often overlooked, even though housing is the top expense reported by retired people, whether they own or rent their home. A benefit of shared housing is obviously shared expenses, but the social and emotional benefits are important too.

Plan for your second act. Think about your own human capital, abilities, and interests beyond traditional work in order to have ongoing income, as well as intellectual and social engagement after traditional retirement. The ability to have a second or third “act” after a primary career winds down has grown increasingly important as people live longer. This next act can be anything from ongoing part time work or consulting, to work in another field. The growth of people selling items on Ebay or Etsy, driving for Uber, or expanding a former hobby into lucrative work all are examples of this next act.

Stay mentally healthy. A focused strategy for good emotional and mental health is lacking in most people’s financial planning. Most people are aware that living longer can mean increased healthcare costs, both routine and long-term care in nature. Many know they need to get some exercise, but few have a conscious strategy for remaining socially and intellectually engaged. Mental and emotional health are key in aging well.  Without this health, the financial fallout can be significant. Planning for mental and emotional health, as well as healthy finances, should be part of a discussion – whether for yourself or your aging parents.

Avoid getting financially squeezed by family. A challenge that has emerged in financial planning is the squeeze that many baby boomers are feeling due to financial needs of their adult children and their own aging parents. An issue may arise due to the attention paid to “urgent” financial needs of children and parents, rather than adhering to the time-tested “pay yourself first” mantra. Many boomers report difficulty in saying no to such family requests for funds, even when the cost of helping others results in the donor having to work longer than intended. Seeking the help of an effective financial planner can assist clients with these tough choices and can help formulate alternative plans.

Take into account you and your family’s mental and physical health, balance the needs of multiple generations, plan for your second act. Thinking ahead can help you understand the financial impact of these decisions and formulate a plan for success.