It’s always helpful to have a retirement date in mind and imagine how you want to spend your retirement years. But there can be turns in the road. Situations may arise that cause you to change your plans in order to achieve your retirement goals.
Here’s a variety of fictional scenarios reflecting real-life situations that lead to changes in retirement plans.
Planning to sell the business. Kevin and Lynn, a couple who own and manage an independent gym, planned on selling the business to help fund their retirement. Unfortunately, the planned time to put the business up for sale coincided with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fitness industry was hit hard, and prospects of a sale, during this period, turned dim. The couple are very comfortable postponing their retirement until a time, hopefully not far off, when potential buyers are confident in the gym’s continued success.
Dealing with divorce. Sylvie, a real estate broker, had planned to retire in her early 60s, and she was on track financially – until her divorce. After dividing the property and paying for legal fees and spousal support, Sylvie needed to examine her retirement plans. She found a compromise that suited her perfectly, planning to keep her target retirement date, but choosing semi-retirement for the first several years.
Facing greater expenses. Philip, a medical lab technician, is a few years away from retirement. He planned on a quiet retirement, content to visit friends and enjoy his favourite pastimes. That all changed when he met Gia. She’s a few years younger and wants to travel the world in retirement, and Philip is on board. Philip will postpone his retirement to align with Gia’s, which also works out because he needs to fund a more expensive lifestyle.
Putting health first. Hassan had a high-stress position as sales director of a technology firm when he suffered a heart attack. After recovery, Hassan decided to take a new position with a low stress level, even though his income would decrease and he’d fall short of his nest egg objective. When he reached traditional retirement age, Hassan continued to work reduced hours, retiring gradually – with the peace of mind knowing he wouldn’t outlive his savings.
Caring for a parent. At age 55, Mei, along with her husband, made a difficult decision. Mei decided to leave her job to care for her mother, who had suffered a stroke. The couple had similar incomes, and they had to consider how Mei’s lost income would impact their retirement plans. They were both satisfied to compensate for the shortfall in savings in two ways – downsizing their home and modifying their retirement lifestyle to suit their retirement income.
Helping a family member financially. A couple of times, Mariam and Kalim helped their adult son financially, most notably, helping him get back on his feet after a failed business venture. The financial outlay was enough to affect their nest egg. The couple didn’t want to postpone retirement, so they decided to increase the amounts they invest for several years before retirement – a move made easier with their mortgage and high-interest debt already paid off.
FOUR WAYS TO PIVOT
Each of these scenarios involved one of the following ways to pivot when life situations cause you to change your retirement plans.
YOU CAN POSTPONE YOUR RETIREMENT DATE.
This method not only enables you to increase your nest egg, but reduces the number of years of retirement you must fund.
EARN SOME INCOME IN TRADITIONAL RETIREMENT YEARS.
You might get reduced hours from your regular job, work as a consultant or start your own business.
SAVE MORE IN THE YEARS PRECEDING RETIREMENT.
These dollars can help build a cash reserve for income during the initial years of retirement or be invested in equities to potentially grow and help fund the later years of retirement.
MODIFY YOUR RETIREMENT LIFESTYLE.
If you wish to keep your original retirement date, you’ll find numerous ways to spend less while still having a pleasant and fulfilling retirement.