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Aging In America – Embracing The Transition

Whenever I hear someone say "I'm getting old" I am quick to suggest to them that they change it to "I'm getting older." To me, from the very second we are born we are getting older: when you claim to be getting old, it's all downhill from there. Those that know me (and I'm not very hard to read nor offer my opinion) know that I am all about living life to the fullest. When I go down, it's going to be fighting and clawing all the way. There is a big difference between spending each day surviving vs. living: I much prefer the latter, and teach all of our clients to embrace every day of life. While there is some question over how much control we have over our health, we pretty much control everything else. When you put your head on the pillow at night and wake up in the morning, you can't get back the day before: why would you want to waste it? How may do we have left? I don't know about you, but I plan to make sure I make each day count!

From the time we start working, we are taught (and rightly so) to diligently save for retirement. While it may seem a million years away for a twenty something, for those of us that have vision and mentoring, saving for retirement becomes a way of life. This is called the growth stage of our life: our goal is to save and grow our wealth while setting it aside for that future time when we plan to reclaim our life and do what we choose to do. When our clients ask me when they should retire, I tell them all the same thing: I can't tell you- only you will know. But, one day you will wake up, sit up in bed and know. The declaration will be different form the usual "I wish I could retire already" chant. Trust me, you'll know. You'll feel it in your soul, your being and your body. Then, the realistic side will also emerge, asking if you can, or have the ability. Hopefully, you worked with your Certified Financial Planner(tm) at least 10 years before that day, and the answers will be right in front of you. If you didn't, consult your trusted advisor now- he or she will help you to determine if the time is financially right. This is the time that you retirement goals change big time, for the first time in 40 or so years. You now go from a goal of growth, to a goal of income. This mind altering thought is huge: don't be afraid- it's part of this new stage in your life. This is what you have been saving for all these years, sacrificed by reducing your then current income for a better life down the road at that magic time of retirement. Well my friends, I have a newsflash for you: welcome to the Enchanted Forest! It's time to use those hard earned, tax deferred dollars to make yourself a grand, retired life. As our friends at Fidlity say, "it's time to go from saving to spending." It's a whole new, entirely different way of thinking.

Boomers today are living a longer lifespan than the analysts and statisticians ever thought would be possible. The Villages in Florida, for example, is a totally self contained community for the silver haired foxes and foxettes of the world to live a life of fun and frivolity long into the statisticians "golden years." No longer are the "seniors" expected to just lie around and crab about their aches and pains: there's no time in between movies, golf, parties (yes my children, we still party on down!) and a host of activities our parents never thought possible at our age. Life is not over- we've just arrived and we are a force to be reckoned with. Don't be afraid to seek that which will make life easier for you. If a ramp instead of steps would make it easier for you, then put in the ramp. If you are a bit out of balance, have a handyman put in some rails around the house or bathroom to give yourself something to hold onto. Don't let ego get in the way of good sense and safety. At this stage in the game, do you really care? Think back to your younger days- I'll bet there were times where some rails would have been very helpful!

You will need to watch your finances a bit more carefully as your wage earning years are now behind you. As stated above, the advice of your trusted advisors to do some budgeting would be very helpful, not to mention having another set of eyes. Speak with your Investment Advisor as to the delicate balance of risk and reward, and review your monthly and annual income needs often. Your tax advisor should guide you as to the taxability of your investments and other income, and the best way to manage your withdrawals and distributions to keep as much in your pocket as possible. Be sure your portfolio takes into account inflation, a major factor in the depreciation of buying power over the years. Failure is not an option, this is real life. There is no practice round (at least in this body) so make the most of it- don't let a day get away from you!

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