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Retirement Realities

The concept and reality of retirement is changing drastically. Back in the day, there were pensions that delivered a set amount of money every month at the end of a career that might have spanned anywhere from 20–35 years at the same company.  Now, there are 401(k)s, and gig work, robo-advisors and smartphone savings apps.  It’s almost practically a different language, and not all would-be retirees are fluent. There have been lots of other changes, too, as highlighted by Kiplinger in its Retirement Report, launched 25 years ago.*

Living longer.

Then:  More people died younger.

Now: Medical advances, better medications and better understanding of how to stay healthy in the first place have extended people’s lifespans to the point that they need to plan for enough money to support themselves for years longer than they may have expected. But medical advances haven’t conquered such diseases as Alzheimer’s, which means people also must plan to have someone else make their decisions for them—and to be able to afford care—once they are no longer able to do it themselves.

Working longer.

Then: Picking a retirement date and then retiring.

Now: Choosing a retirement date today is more a matter of choice, but not always an easy one!   For some, it is trying to decide when it’s “safe” financially to retire, and then postponing retirement to make up for funds lost in the Great Recession or to anticipate health care expenses.  Others are choosing to ease into retirement, transitioning to working part-time or as consultants in their chosen profession. Either way, many people now work well past 65, and even age 70.

More stress over health care.

Then: Medicare paid for most health expenses and between pensions and Social Security, lots of people were able to live well during retirement.

Now: The potential cost of health care has become a primary consideration in retirement planning.  If you plan to retire prior to Medicare age of 65, the cost of private insurance may be one of the biggest stumbling blocks.  When you are eligible for Medicare, you face a host of decisions about Medicare Advantage Plans or Medicare Supplement plans, which Part D drug plan best suits you, etc.  Beyond these basic decisions, we also must consider the possibility of needing long-term care services and how we will pay for these costs.


Then: Social Security, pension, maybe a financial advisor to help with decisions if you were a big earner.

Now: From retirement plan investments to when to retire, or how to withdraw funds, convert them to an income stream or choose the best fee option in both investments and advice. People need to know more and understand more just to keep up with preparing for retirement. There is all kinds of information online about how much to save and what to invest in to get to retirement, but there’s less information that’s aimed at helping retirees make that money last by guiding them through withdrawals and other money management strategies.

Retirement today involves many more decisions, leading up to and continuing well into retirement.  Working with a qualified advisor can help you navigate the many alternatives in your retirement planning.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of author and should not be construed as specific investment advice.  All information is believed to be from reliable sources, however, no representation is made to its completeness or accuracy. All economic and performance information is historical and not indicative of future results. Any tax advice contained herein is of a general nature. Further, you should seek specific tax advice from your tax professional before pursuing any idea contemplated herein. 

Fee-Based Planning offered through W3 Wealth Advisors, LLC – a State Registered Investment Advisor – Third Party Money Management offered through Valmark Advisers, Inc. a SEC Registered Investment Advisor – Securities offered through Valmark Securities, Inc. Member FINRA, SIPC – 130 Springside Drive, Suite 300 Akron, Ohio 44333-2431 * 1-800-765-5201 – W3 Wealth Management, LLC and W3 Wealth Advisors, LLC are separate entities from Valmark Securities, Inc. and Valmark Advisers, Inc. 

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