Turn your retirement puzzle into a plan

MARCH 18, 2022

Here are six retirement planning puzzle pieces that you may want to consider to help you enjoy the financial future you envision.

Retirement planning can be a puzzling experience. The ideal picture of retirement would look wonderful on a puzzle box, but the process of piecing it together can be overwhelming. Of course, one can keep visualizing, but eventually it’s necessary to dump out all the pieces and make them fit together.

If you are considering taking this important step, you have nothing to fear. Here are six key pieces to put at the top of your retirement planning pile that can help you enjoy the kind of financial future you envision.  


Piece No. 1: Put it in writing.

Perhaps the most important piece is your plan. After all, when you put your plan in writing, you have a tangible record of the path ahead. According to a recent survey, 73% of financial professionals say providing written plans is very important in building trust with their clients, and two out of three consumers find such written plans effective in accounting for their risk preferences, their investment plan and how to fund financial goals.1 From monitoring financial benchmarks to managing through market declines, a written plan is a record of commitment that will help keep you on track and grounded through highs and lows. 


Piece No. 2: Know your biological age.

The good news is you may be younger than you think. The bad news is you may be younger than you think. A growing body of evidence suggests that an individual's actual age can be measured more accurately using telomeres, which are protective caps at both ends of your chromosomes.2 Your biological age can diverge by as much as 10 years from chronological age.Longer life expectancies are one of the key factors that have helped transform traditional retirement planning. In the new ageless, you may need to plan for more years. And more puzzles. 


Piece No. 3: Protect your assets:

If running out of money keeps you up at night, finding reliable sources of retirement income that suit your needs and risk tolerance can help.  Many retirees are losing sleep over everyday expenses and healthcare. Dependable income can help you understand how much you can afford to spend and support spending at more effective levels. And it can help protect you against adverse consequences, such as market downturns. Without a secure financial base, your puzzle could fall apart. 


Piece No. 4: Prepare for health scares.

In a survey of more than 1,000 people ages 50‐70 with investable assets of at least $200,000, just half of retirees and 36% of pre‐retirees reported having a strategy on how to handle healthcare and long‐term care expenses in retirement.4 There’s good reason for having such a plan, because the financial burden of these costs can be significant. It’s worth noting that in the same survey, 28% of participants said the COVID‐19 pandemic has led them to reevaluate how they plan for long‐term care.5

Piece No. 5: Put it on autopilot.

Many of us view the money we have accumulated as “untouchable” when it was actually designed to be spent in retirement. And while the desire to avoid overspending is admirable in the discipline it shows, it means you could be missing out on all the fulfillment you deserve in life after you leave the workforce. To help avoid this, one option for spending more comfortably in retirement is automation.  

Automation is an effective method of saving and investing to accumulate assets. For example, you may automatically contribute to your 401(k) or other retirement funds. But what about using the power of automation in retirement for distribution? Consider converting some of your assets to a steady stream of income, and automatically activating a withdrawal plan that can help fuel your retirement possibly without the worry of running on empty.  


Piece No. 6: Follow your path with a professional.

Just as important as your plan is the financial professional who will help you execute it and lock all these pieces together. We all have a puzzle box vision of what our retirement might be, but we can't just admire this picture without putting in some effort first. This planning process is what brings the picture to life, right down to the last missing piece that may have fallen on the floor. It’s time to open the box and sort through the pile — assembly is required.

1. 2021 Retiree Insights Survey of Consumers, Greenwald Research, July 2021

2. The epigenetics of aging: What the body’s hands of time tell us, National Institute on Aging, March 2021

3. Using Epigenetic Clocks to Determine Biological Age, LLAMA, May 2021

4. 2021 Retiree Insights Survey of Consumers, Greenwald Research, July 2021

5. Ibid.

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