retirement

Draft a Retirement Wish List for Your Financial Adviser

If you want to make your first meeting more meaningful, come prepared. Here's where to start.

Before your first visit, most financial professionals will ask you to pull together a lot of paperwork.

They’ll want to see tax returns, retirement account statements, Social Security benefit statements and so on.

But it’s just as important — maybe more important when meeting with a retirement specialist — that you gather your thoughts before you go.

A good adviser will want to learn all about you: what you want to accomplish in retirement, what kind of lifestyle you hope to have and what you worry about most. You might think the answers are top of mind — after all, you’ve probably been thinking about this for a decade or more. But you’d be surprised at how many people go blank when their adviser stops talking about his experience and abilities and says, “Now, let’s chat about you.”

When we put together a comprehensive retirement plan for our clients, the starting place is always with your retirement wish list.

So get out a notepad or laptop, and start now!

Ask yourself:

  • In a perfect world, when will I retire? Do you like your job? Do you have health issues? Do you need more time to save money? Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page, so you’re working toward the goal together.
  • What are my short-, mid- and long-term financial goals? Surveys tell us the No. 1 worry of today’s retirees is that they’ll run out of money, so we know they’re preparing for a long haul. But what about the first years of retirement? Think about how much income you’ll need at each stage of your life.
  • What are my needs, wants and wishes? Be clear on the differences between what you need to have and what you’d like to have so you know from the start what is most important to you.
  • Where will I retire? Do you want to stay in the same town you’re in now, or are you ready for a change – a move to a mountain cabin or someplace warm? Will you want to downsize, or will you try to age in place?
  • If I had all the money I would ever need, how would I spend my time? Having a clear plan for how you’ll fill your days is crucial to your mental and physical health. All those hours you used to spend working will now be free for other activities. Do you have hobbies? Will you volunteer? Some of our clients can’t believe how busy they are in retirement. Others have nothing but idle time on their hands; they’re bored and miserable.
  • How much money does it cost to live today? Some people have never made a budget, but in retirement planning, it’s a must. If you plan to maintain a lifestyle similar to the one you have while working, you have to consider inflation, taxes and health care costs.
  • What about health care? What would happen to your financial picture if you got sick for an extended period? What would happen to your spouse’s financial well-being? Do you have a plan for how you’ll pay for long-term care?
  • Will my wishes be carried out in the event of disability or death? Do you and your spouse have a will, durable powers of attorney and a living trust, and are all those documents current?

These answers are crucial to understanding your desired lifestyle, and whether you’ll be financially, physically and emotionally ready for retirement — so take the time to consider each one.

Make that first meeting with your adviser as meaningful as possible, and be sure you come prepared.

About the Author

Les Goldstein, Investment Adviser

Founder and President, Personal Financial Strategies Inc.

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

Most Popular

Dying Careers You May Want to Steer Clear Of
careers

Dying Careers You May Want to Steer Clear Of

It’s tough to change, but your job could depend on it. Be flexible in your career goals – and talk with your kids about their own aspirations, because…
September 13, 2021
5 Top Dividend Aristocrats to Beef Up Your Portfolio
dividend stocks

5 Top Dividend Aristocrats to Beef Up Your Portfolio

The 65-member Dividend Aristocrats are among the market's best sources of reliable, predictable income. But these five stand out as truly elite.
September 14, 2021
7 Best Commodity Stocks to Play the Coming Boom
commodities

7 Best Commodity Stocks to Play the Coming Boom

These seven commodity stocks are poised to take advantage of a unique confluence of events. Just mind the volatility.
September 8, 2021

Recommended

You’re Being Robbed … You Just Don’t Know It
retirement

You’re Being Robbed … You Just Don’t Know It

For retirees especially, inflation risk should always be a top concern in your financial plan.
September 22, 2021
10 Ways You Could Avoid the 10% Early Retirement Penalty
retirement

10 Ways You Could Avoid the 10% Early Retirement Penalty

You’ve saved diligently in your 401(k), and you wouldn’t mind tapping into it – but you’re not age 59½ yet, so you could have to pay the IRS a 10% pen…
September 21, 2021
How to Calculate Your Net Worth
savings

How to Calculate Your Net Worth

Run an inventory of your assets and liabilities to find out how much you're worth.
September 20, 2021
How Exactly Do You Stress-Test Your Financial Plan?
retirement planning

How Exactly Do You Stress-Test Your Financial Plan?

Some tasks are not good for DIYers, and stress-testing your portfolio is probably one of them. Because individuals don’t have access to the same tools…
September 18, 2021