Planning Your Retirement Journey Step 4: Overcoming the Obstacles Within You

We cheer whenever someone reaches the summit of a mountain (real or metaphorical) despite adversity. Think of blind climber Erik Weihenmayer, who has summited all seven of the world’s tallest peaks. Or Christopher Gardner, who overcame homelessness and became the CEO of his own stockbrokerage firm—an incredible life story that inspired the 2006 movie The Pursuit of Happyness.

Actually, we all deserve applause . . . because we all wrestle with obstacles and setbacks during what I’ve called the retirement journey. Some obstacles may be external, such as paying for college costs, becoming underemployed or unemployed, or losing your spouse. In this fourth and final part of this blog series about planning your retirement journey, let’s explore what happens if the obstacles slowing you down are within you.

Many times, people’s own internal beliefs keep them from making serious progress toward their goals. These beliefs are usually rooted in messages about money you picked up—often unwittingly—when you were young. Therapists call them “scripts.”

Do any of these scripts ring true to you?

“I don’t have enough time to manage my money.”
Whether working or retired, you may feel you have little time to deal with financial news, advice, and reports. But if your health were involved, not your money, what would you do? You’d probably make time to educate yourself about factors that could affect your well-being, screen out all the “noise,” and try to weave healthier behavior into your life. You can take charge of your financial future the same way.

“I’m not making enough money to put anything aside.”
If you find yourself saying this, step back and ask yourself why. Sometimes the issue is that discretionary spending has caused your outgo to equal or exceed your income. You may discover that by tweaking your spending habits, there will be some money left over to save. There are also some tax incentives you may be able to benefit from, like the Savers Credit, which help low- to middle-income people accumulate savings for the future.

“Somebody else should deal with all this money stuff for me.”
For generations, American women typically followed the cultural norm of leaving financial matters to their husband. Widows and divorcées left in the dark about their money often lived in fear of becoming destitute. Today, both men and women have come to recognize that money mastery knows no gender; both have the ability to manage their personal finances if they choose to do so. However, if you don’t feel comfortable managing your money on your own, take steps to enlist the help of the right professional.

“If I take risks with my money, I could lose everything.”
The 2008 market decline unnerved many younger folks who hadn’t experienced its long climb. But guarding against market volatility doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to cash savings in the bank. Learn more about diversification strategies or options for guaranteed retirement income that can help reduce risk. It may also help you to take a risk tolerance assessment so you have a better sense for which options might be right for you.

“It’s too late to make a difference even if I start saving now.”
It’s never too late to make a difference! Save as much as you can of every paycheck. (Automatic transfers into a saving account, 401(k), IRA, or the like are an easy way to do so.) Every dollar you save has the opportunity to compound before you draw it out in retirement.

“I’m never sure of the smartest thing to do with my savings.”
There may seem to be a million possible routes to take. But once you’ve defined your goals and risk tolerance, that myriad of options may shrink to a much more manageable number.

If any of these messages resonates with you, it could affect your ultimate success in getting up and down the mountain. To improve your progress, consider taking these four steps:

1. Admit that something is holding you back. Uncertainty about the future can be much more stressful than asking for help.

2. Communicate. If you got lost on a mountain, you would (hopefully) send out an SOS to someone trustworthy and knowledgeable who could help determine where you are. The same is true on your retirement journey. To make sure you’re headed in the right direction and managing your assets wisely, talk to a professional who can ask the right questions, help assess your situation, and guide you in a course correction if necessary.

It’s wise to be cautious in choosing a professional, so I recommend reviewing tips for finding and evaluating the right guidance before you proceed.

3. Consider your choices. As you’ve learned in studying the beliefs I mentioned above, as well as the risks covered in my previous post, different people face different paths up and down the mountain. One way to begin exploring your options is to call 844-880-8255 for a complimentary, no-obligation retirement income checkup with one of the members of the Your Retirement Reality team.

4. Move forward! Once you’ve received the guidance you need, make a decision, act on it, and continue on with confidence.

In the next post, I’ll begin a new series that delves more deeply into understanding your relationship with money— an “essential” in learning how to deal with it more effectively. Stay tuned to learn how to discover what you and your money think of each other!

Your Retirement Reality Sherpa

Reality Check: It Might Be Time to Revisit Your Retirement Income Plan

Funding your retirement today has changed dramatically from planning a retirement income a few decades ago. Today’s economic circumstances have created a new reality that requires a different approach.
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