How to clarify your retirement goals

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What is important to you about money?

I ask clients and prospects this question all the time, and I’ve learned – after having had thousands of these conversations – that not many people think much about it.

This is unfortunate, because the answer (s) will help you focus on what matters most to you.

Investors (and many finance professionals) tend to focus on growing their retirement nest egg and not worry about whether the money you make while you work will last after you retire. But there is so much more to a complete financial plan than just the beginning and the end.

You should use your money as a tool to achieve your goals. And your advisor can’t help you reach those goals if you don’t even know what they are, or can’t articulate, when discussing retirement strategies.

Here are a few questions to get you started. (If you are married, be sure to include your spouse.)

Who do you want to help with your money?

Answering “myself” or “ourselves” is a perfectly acceptable answer. But if you have others that you want to include – parents, kids, or anyone else you will need or care for – be specific about what you wish you could do for them. You could and should explore how you will cover these costs now and in the future.

Do you have specific “bucket list” items you want to achieve?

Have you and your spouse dreamed of traveling, moving, or changing your lifestyle in any way? When do you want these things to happen? Have you factored and included the costs of these activities in your financial plan?

You can’t take it with you, so do you want to live big or leave some behind?

Is it okay to spend every penny you have in your life so that the last payment at the funeral home barely ends, or is leaving a financial legacy important to you? Which people or organizations should receive your money? Your advisor can help you put in place a plan of action (will, trust, life insurance, etc.) to help you achieve your inheritance goals in the most tax-efficient way.

What would happen if you or your spouse became ill or disabled?

Have you talked about what type of care you would prefer if it is needed (for example, skilled home care, adult daycare, assisted living)? How would you pay for care and how would your choices affect your loved ones in the short and long term?

Money is a very personal subject, and sharing your thoughts on these issues can be uncomfortable, especially if you and your spouse disagree on your different goals. But if you’ve never thought of your money this way before, it can be a powerful and eye-opening exercise. Fill it out thoughtfully and discuss your options with those involved.

Then you’ll be ready to put together a truly comprehensive financial plan.

Founder and President, Personal Financial Strategies Inc.

Les Goldsteins is the founder and president of Personal Financial Strategies Inc., a branch of Securities America Inc., a member of FINRA / SIPC. Personal Financial Strategies and Securities America are separate entities. As the Investment Adviser Representative at Securities America Advisors Inc. in the greater Chicago area, he helps clients create a retirement lifestyle and leave a meaningful financial legacy for loved ones.


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