Visualize your retirement

Look beyond the dollars and cents to make the most of your retirement

27 Jan 2020

Most people focus on the numbers when planning, saving and investing for retirement. While a financial focus is certainly prudent, it’s also important to look beyond the numbers and consider what you want your life in retirement to look like. Once you have an idea of what you want, you can better plot out your financial road map.

Here’s some expert advice on preparing for retirement from a recent episode of the UBS On-Air podcast.

Key takeaways

  • Imagining what you want your life to look like in retirement helps frame your financial decisions.
  • Retirement planning is an iterative process, not a one-time project.
  • Plan for not only your ideal retirement but also the challenges that may come with it.

Let your vision be your guide

“There’s a lot involved when it comes to retirement planning,” says Total Wealth Strategist Ainsley Carbone from the UBS Chief Investment Office. “When it comes to how you want to position your wealth behind that retirement plan, it’s difficult to build a successful retirement plan if you don’t really know where it is that you want to go.”

Going through the exercise of thinking about your retirement in non-financial terms can be helpful for framing important financial decisions. “If you want to retire in three years, then in three years your paycheck is going to stop,” Carbone offered as an example. “You’re going to want to have assets set aside to fund that retirement lifestyle.”

Remember financial planning is an iterative process

While you can use this exercise to guide your financial planning, “it’s important to keep in mind that whatever you’re imagining for your lifestyle in retirement is not a binding contract,” Carbone explained. “As your plans change, that’s when you want to revise and make appropriate adjustments to your financial plan.”

The bottom line? “Planning is a very iterative process, and it all starts with that first visualization,” Carbone explains.

Consider all the variables

There is no one-size-fits-all retirement plan. For example, your retirement goals may involve travel, education, hobbies or simply spending time with your grandkids.

Regardless of your goals, it’s important to consider your spouse, future medical costs and how you want to spend your time in retirement across various scenarios. That will give you a well-rounded understanding of your future financial needs.

Don’t get caught off guard in retirement

Future retirees must plan not only for their ideal retirement but also the challenges that may come with it.

“The work that they’ve had in their lives, or the structure of their families, has defined what they do on a daily basis and who they are,” says Stuart Ritter, senior financial planner and retirement insights leader for US Intermediaries of T. Rowe Price. “As people transition to retirement without thinking about what’s going to be different, they can get pretty upset about it.”

Ritter shared the story of someone who made sure to check off all of the financial boxes but nonetheless found himself unhappy when he stopped working. He had failed to visualize his retirement, Ritter explained, which made the transition jarring.

Prepare for the risks and rewards of retirement

To make the most of your retirement years, visualize what you want your life to look like and allow that to inform your planning process. For more helpful tips for how to prepare, tune into the full UBS On-Air episode and subscribe to get future episodes delivered straight to your preferred podcast player.


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