Thoughts on reaching retirement age

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I turned 64 earlier this year. On my birthday, I received a notice from our group health insurance provider that I should start thinking about what options I have regarding Medicare. I’ve only been working for 42 years since college. I graduated on a Saturday and went to work on Monday. I like to call that Sunday my “gap” day. The point is that time flies and the vast majority of us cannot afford to put off planning for retirement, not to mention all the other financial matters that need to be funded during life.

Our staff at both firms (KMH Wealth Management and Keller & Associates CPAs) is comprised of CPAs and CFP professionals that are both tax planners and financial planners, great combination for financial planning.

Several years ago my wife Phyllis and I decided to have one of the CPA/CFP professionals in our firms prepare our financial plan just like our clients. This gave us the opportunity to sit in the client seat and have an independent opinion in the room. I have sat in many client meetings as the adviser, but being the client gave me a different perspective. I personally see the value of these meetings. It also provides us something else: the ability to have a more open discussion about our finances in a formal setting. We have both been in the workplace a long time, been independent thinkers, diligent savers and raised and educated our four (now adult) children, but we still need help to plan for retirement.

I know this won’t come as a surprise, but men and women actually think differently about money. Over many years of client meetings I have learned how important it is for both spouses to understand and have input on their finances and their plan and work to be on the same page. As we age, it also becomes more important to carefully consider who in your family (or outside of your family) can step in with you to understand your financial situation and wishes.

I think about all of these things as I get closer to retirement. It is different for everyone, but I don’t expect to leave the workforce any time soon. I am bombarded with “are you still working” and “when are you going to retire” questions, sometimes to the point of aggravation. There is no magic age. I think we have been conditioned to think we have to quit working about the time you receive that card in the mail about Medicare. If you are healthy and enjoy what you are doing, why quit? Plus, the longer you work, the larger your Social Security benefit will be.

I also carry with me some advice from my father — “Don’t work too long like I did.”

If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, get your plan together and do something else, but make sure you know how you may fare by having a plan in place.

Maybe you have never had a formal financial plan. Maybe your plan is in your head. Maybe you are just scared to know what the consequences of your lifestyle are. It is never too late to know and understand your financial situation and plan accordingly. Start now.

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