Picture your financial journey as a scenic hike up a challenging mountain. Just as climbers prepare with practice hikes, gear, and their safest route, retirees must also meticulously plan for the ups and downs of their journey to reach their dream retirement destination.
With cooler temperatures and stunning foliage and terrain, October is the perfect time of year to get outdoors, especially for hikers and climbers. It is also Financial Planning Month!
Reaching the mountain's peak is like overcoming financial challenges for a secure retirement. In both mountain climbing and retirement planning, preparation is key. But the road isn't always as smooth as we had hoped or even planned for.
Our goals and strategies also change as we go through different life stages. The strategies we use for climbing a mountain in our 20s are ultimately different from how we plan expeditions in our 70s. When it comes to saving and investing for retirement, our strategies differ in our working years from how we approach them nearing retirement.
In this blog, we will dive deep into essential aspects of retirement planning and how you can conquer the retirement mountain. Here's what you can do to prepare this Financial Planning Month.
Having the Proper Gear
You can't climb a mountain in flip-flops and no direction. Investing in the right equipment, like sturdy footwear and a compass, can make the journey much more tolerable. Having the right tools can make your journey to retirement much smoother, too.
In retirement planning, there are various tools available to help us reach our financial goals. For example, deciding how we invest our money, understanding different financial products, and using financial advisors to help plan our retirement paths can help keep us on the right track. For instance, Social Security can supplement your retirement income, but it's also important to have investments in stocks to keep up with inflation.
By using the right retirement resources and tools, you can help ensure your money lasts throughout your golden years.
Having a Safety Net
What's the first thing you should pack as you set off on your epic journey? A first aid kit. If you have a bad fall halfway up the mountain, you could sever your chances of reaching the top.
An Emergency Fund acts as a safety net, helping to provide the financial resources you need to navigate unforeseen circumstances - without jeopardizing your long-term financial goals or your hard-earned nest egg.
Adequate cash reserves allow you to make decisions without solely relying on fixed-income sources like pensions or Social Security. You can maintain flexibility in your financial choices, whether pursuing a new opportunity, supporting a loved one, or embarking on a passion project. Cash savings help ensure you won't have to dip into or liquidate your investments, allowing your retirement portfolio to weather economic uncertainty.
Whether it's an unexpected evacuation due to a natural disaster or unexpected medical expenses, having funds set aside can alleviate stress and protect your assets, allowing you to focus on what truly matters—your safety and well-being.
Choosing the Right Path
You can choose the hard road, the long road, or the wrong road when it comes to navigating your route. A path in the wrong direction could end with you spending much-needed physical energy, and overexerting yourself can throw you off track - or ruin your plan altogether.
Much like a mountain climber's goal is to reach the summit, retirees must set financial objectives when they engage in tax planning. Just like choosing the right path up the mountain, tax planning involves selecting the right strategies to navigate complex tax regulations efficiently.
To avoid this pitfall, taking part in strategic tax planning can help maximize the longevity of your retirement funds. Just as climbers bring a range of tools to adapt to the challenges they might face during the ascent, diversification in your retirement plan involves spreading investments across various asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, and real estate, to mitigate risks and enhance overall portfolio resilience.
Diversifying your assets can also greatly help you strategically withdraw funds tax-efficiently. Let's explore how some of these accounts can be beneficial to your retirement journey:
- Roth IRAs: Tax-free Growth
Roth IRAs offer tax-free growth potential. Although contributions to Roth IRAs are not tax-deductible upfront, future withdrawals can be entirely tax-free if you stick to the withdrawal rules. For 2023, the total donations you make each year to your traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs can be at most $6,500 ($7,500 if you're 50 or older). If your contributions are lower, your taxable income for the year will be impacted. By tactically selecting Roth accounts, you pave the way for tax-free income streams during your retirement years.
- Traditional IRAs: Tax-deferred Growth
Traditional IRAs are a straightforward tool for tax deferrals. The taxable rate is contingent on your income rate. Contributions to these accounts are often tax-deductible, enabling you to trim your current tax liability. As your investments grow within the account, taxes are postponed until you start withdrawing funds in retirement. This strategy can reduce the overall tax bite on your withdrawals.
- Taxable Accounts: Capital Gains and Qualified Dividends
Long-term capital gains and qualified dividends often receive preferential tax rates. By coordinating the timing of asset sales, you can reduce your tax impact. In turn, you can create a strategic cash flow while preserving the tax-advantaged nature of your retirement accounts.
It's important to note that a 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) applies to individuals, estates, and trusts with net investment income above appropriate threshold amounts.
By taking a proactive approach to your retirement journey, you can help reduce their vulnerability to unexpected obstacles on the financial mountain, and understanding the tax implications of your investment decisions helps you minimize your tax burden and retain more of your hard-earned savings.
You Need Balance
On the mountain, one step back for a selfie too far, and it's goodnight. You need balance and sure footing to support yourself along the way.
Balancing an investment portfolio shares similarities with hiking or climbing in that it's all about finding equilibrium and adjusting to the terrain. Just as hikers distribute weight evenly in their backpacks to maintain stability and comfort while trekking over various landscapes, asset allocation takes on a new level of importance as you retire.
You might have taken a more aggressive stance in pursuing higher returns during your working years. In retirement, however, the focus shifts to preserving capital while generating sustainable income.
Retirees must regularly assess and adjust their portfolio allocations to navigate financial market fluctuations and changing investment landscapes. This process ensures that their investment journey remains on track, helping them manage risks effectively and increase the likelihood of achieving their financial goals while maintaining stability.
Working With A Pro
Just like a sherpa knows the mountain's trails like the back of their hand, experienced financial advisors help chart a safe path toward financial goals, provide guidance on investment strategies, and helping to ensure that clients stay on course even when facing unexpected financial challenges or market volatility.
Much like mountain guides prioritize safety and the well-being of their climbers, financial advisors prioritize the financial security and well-being of their clients, helping them navigate the complexities of wealth management and ultimately reach their financial summits with confidence and peace of mind.
At Agemy Financial Strategies, our objective is to see that our clients can retire and stay retired, and that includes planning for what comes after you reach the summit.
A Safe Decent
You've finally reached the top! So what now? Just as climbers assess the conditions and make strategic decisions to ensure a safe descent, individuals planning for retirement must evaluate their financial situation, set realistic goals, and create a strategy to sustain their lifestyle in retirement.
Specializing in retirement income planning, or as we like to say, "helping you make it down the mountain," many financial advisors and financial planners will help you to build your assets and "get up the financial mountain."
However, Andrew Agemy of Agemy Financial Strategies is, at heart, "a financial sherpa." He and his team focus on helping investors who have already "climbed the wealth accumulation mountain, plan and strategize to have enough income in retirement to have a safe and pleasurable journey "back down" and enjoy the best of life.
Our purpose is to educate retirees - whether that be planning for retirement, legacy planning, wealth management, or just holding your hand when it's time to leap into retirement. Celebrating 30 years in business, and we remain steadfast in our dedication to serving and educating retirees.
Whether climbing a mountain or planning for retirement, both endeavors demand thorough preparation, assessing risks, and setting achievable goals. Just as a mountaineer paces their ascent to avoid exhaustion and accidents, retirees must manage their finances and withdrawals to ensure long-term sustainability.
Seeking guidance, be it from experienced guides or financial advisors, proves essential in both cases. Ultimately, both journeys aim for a successful, secure outcome, necessitating careful planning, adaptability, and the ability to navigate unforeseen challenges to reach the desired destination safely and comfortably.
This Financial Planning Month, navigate the retirement terrain, overcome its challenges, and achieve a secure and prosperous retirement with Agemy Financial Strategies.