Coach’s Corner- “Do You Feel Behind In Your 50’s?”

Every once in awhile, we come across a client in their 50s – and it can be an individual or a couple – who feels like they’re way behind the 8-ball when it comes to their retirement savings.


We go through their income, retirement savings, pensions, hard assets, the sale of their business if applicable, and expected social security income in the future at different timeframes.


Then we plot their fixed expenses, as well as future one-time and recurring expenses, such as vacations, long weekend road trips, downsizing to a smaller home, moving to a new state, buying a vacation home, paying for a wedding or two, helping with kids’ or grandkids’ school loans after college, new vehicles over time, and much more.


In the end, however, when we finish up the financial plan, the picture isn’t as pretty as we all would like it to be.


What we want is high probability-of-success results using relatively low assumptions on rate-of-return, and then plenty of excess savings at the end of the plan at 90, 95, or even 100 years of age, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way…


especially in our early 50’s.


If you’re in or around this age range, then you might feel frustrated, like you’ve been working your butt off for years, making a good salary, healthy bonuses, maxing out your retirement plan at work, and generally speaking, you live within your means.


While you might take the family out to eat, or treat yourself to something you want from time to time without checking the bank account, it’s not like you’ve been going on frequent, let alone lavish, expensive vacations.


However, with the last of the kids on their way out of the house, you’re peering over the top of the mountain, staring down at retirement, which for the first time in your life, doesn’t seem so far away anymore!


Then, if that wasn’t a big enough reality check, you stare at your nest-egg and continually feel like you haven’t even come close to saving as much as you think you’ll need to eventually quit working when you’d like to.


Well, I’ve got good news and bad news…


The bad news is, depending on how long you have left until your desired retirement age, how much you’ve saved for yourself thus far, and the lifestyle you’re used to, it’s entirely possible that you might have some catching up to do.


On the other hand, I’ve got two pieces of good news for you:


The first, is that it’s never, ever too late.  You simply have to get behind your goals, make a plan, lean-in, and execute!  Always remember this:  For every single pay period that passes and you haven’t schedule time in your calendar to get your retirement plan together, you could be putting off retirement for another two weeks.  Put it off for a year?  You could be adding another 12 months to the time you have to spend at work!


Before I get ahead of myself, below is a hand-drawn chart that shows the four phases of our working lives:


  1. W = Our first working years, when we start making money, paying off debt, etc.
  2. K = When the first of our kids are born (assuming we have more than one!)
  3. C = When the last child finishes college, after which we have our “peak earning years”
  4. R = Retirement, when the relaxing, stress-free “distribution phase” of our life begins!



Continuum-of-Income-Expenses Coach's Corner- "Do You Feel Behind In Your 50's?"


Getting back to the other piece of good news I have for you – this one is even bigger than the first. If you’re in your 50s, the vast majority of you are about to find yourselves in your peak earning years. As empty nesters you will likely have lower expenses, which means that you’ll have more to save for yourself than ever before!

As the kids leave (and graduate from college, if applicable), the grocery bills go down, cell phone bills are smaller, and the kids’ activities, sports, books, tuition, room and board all disappear just as fast as our kids disappeared from our homes.

This is an extremely difficult time, emotionally. 18 years is a long time to raise a child, and if you have more than one, plus the time spent in college, your child rearing years could last a solid three decades. Combine these mentally tough experiences most of us have to go through with the stress around your money, retirement, and feeling behind. It can be enough to drive you crazy.

I’d argue that many procrastinate because they’re scared… and I get it.

You might be thinking to yourself, “I’ve saved quite a bit, but what if I go meet with someone to build a retirement plan only to find out that I’m right… I’m way behind?”

So, the defense mechanism can sometimes turn into one of avoidance. It can feel like if you ignore the potential problem, you don’t have to deal with it, and you won’t have to be faced with this potential heartbreaking truth – that you might not be on track to quitting when you’d like to have the choice to.

This type of thinking is completely understandable, but if you don’t put the noodles in the pot, they’re never going to get cooked. And even when you execute and get your plan started, those noodles still need time to boil…and the sooner you get them on the burner, the better off you’ll be.

In more than two decades of helping individuals, families, and business owners make work “optional,” I can tell you with confidence, that it’s never too late to start giving 100% to your financial future so that you can quit working and enjoy a fun, relaxing retirement.

In addition, there is no shame in working hard, taking care of your family, and finding out that you have a little catching up to do.

However – and this is so important – you cannot wait any longer. You cannot put off that potentially embarrassing moment when you (may) find out you need to catch up.

Procrastination is negative time, compounding. It’s just like carrying a huge balance on a credit card. It carries negative interest in the form of TIME.

We can help you save more, manage your future expenses, and tell you whether you have to choose between retiring earlier or later… but the single biggest thing we cannot do is create more TIME for you.

So, take this letter as an invitation – a challenge if that’s a better motivator. Reach out your hand, meet with a financial professional and get started. After all, getting started is the most difficult part.

From there, we can hold your hand through the rest of the process, teach you, provide you with sound, consultative advice, and help you lead your family to a long, stress-free retirement.

Categories: Adam Koos, CFP®, CMT®, CEPA, Educational Articles

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