Category Archives: Retirement Tips

Retire-o-meter: Measuring Your Retirement Confidence

In the mid-70s The Gong Show used an ‘Applause-O-Meter’ when finalists would be rounded up at the end of the show and the audience would pick a winner via applause. A silly but useful tool. What if you could use a similar tool to rate your preparation for and likely success during retirement?

People I have talked with who are preparing for retirement focus the bulk of their energy creating and worrying about their retirement finances. This preparation is key to secure a successful retirement but it covers only one of four challenges faced during retirement. Those who have recently retired find that their security and success is based on their financial well-being as well as their physical, social and personal well-being.

During my research for Beyond Work: How Accomplished People Retire Successfully (Wiley, 2008) I learned what it takes to retire well and enjoy this new and different adulthood. These retired ‘New Adults’ understood that life beyond work is multi-faceted. Also, they were confident in their ability to live a meaningful retired life.

Understanding what is important during retirement and having the confidence in one’s ability to meet and master challenges differentiate successful retirees from those who are disappointed and unhappy. Understanding is increased with knowledge of what is to come, which increases security and lessens nasty surprises. Talking with experts in retirement, both professionals (accountants, financial planners, doctors, clergy and others) and friends who are a step or two ahead of you is a great way to build understanding. Reading books and articles helps to convert understanding into knowledge and eventually wisdom.

Confidence in the ability to meet new challenges and enjoy life is what pulls accomplished people through the tough times and actually improves their quality of life. This is true at all ages.
How confident are you in your ability to live well once you move beyond work? It’s a hard question to answer. Here are some additional questions:

How confident are you in your ability to:
• Build confidence in weak areas?
• Know which areas are weak?
• Monitor your confidence over time?
• Pinpoint specific challenges that you can learn to master?

As you probably suspect, these are loaded questions. The Roiter Retirement Confidence Profile (RCP) has been developed from the research conducted for Beyond Work. The RCP will help you to answer the questions above and provide you with ideas about how to increase your confidence. It can function as your ‘Retire-O-Meter’ confidence measure. You can complete the RCP at www.beyondwork.net

More than 800 people have completed the no-cost, no obligation RCP since it went on line in June, 2008. It has 20 statements about retirement that you are asked to consider and indicate your level of agreement. For example, how strongly do you agree with this statement: “I trust my judgment regarding financial matters”? The RCP will provide you with your current level of confidence on a scale of 20 to 100. It also provides you with confidence scores in your ability to maintain financial, physical, social and personal well-being. You can complete the RCP as often as you want to determine if you are improving your weak areas and maintaining your strengths.

My hope is that you can use the RCP to help you to build your confidence in your retirement.

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Beyond Work is the “Best Retirement Book of 2008”

Beyond Work: How Accomplished People Retire Successfully (Wiley, 2008) was selected as the Independent Publishers’ Axiom Award Gold Medal winner in the 2008 retirement book category.  The competitively judged Axiom Book Awards presents gold, silver and bronze medals in 22 categories.  “The judging is based on content, originality, design, and production quality, with emphasis on innovation and creativity. The judging panel includes experts from the fields of editing, design, reviewing, bookselling, and library science.”

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I was very pleased to learn of my book’s selection and I greatly appreciate the recognition of Beyond Work as a valuable tool for those considering retirement or recently retired.

Beyond Work looks at retirement as a whole life experience and describes the four sets of challenges and opportunities that people face as they move beyond work.  This time of life is much more than leaving work and managing personal finances.  It is about building a successful life by maximizing your financial, physical, social and personal well-being.  The book provides an overview of a successful retirement and specifics as to how to manage and improve your well-being.  Ideas are described using real life stories from the many people interviewed for the book.

Reviews from Amazon readers:

I am in my fifties and beginning to seriously consider retiring. I’ve seen lots of books about preparing yourself financially, and certainly seen “self-help” stuff describing how to be comfortable with yourself when you retire. But Roiter’s book is the first I’ve seen that knits all the areas to consider – social, financial, personal and physical – into an understandable, integrated picture. He uses common sense terms, and entertaining real-life examples, to explain how to prepare for what should be one of the best periods of your life. – From Looking to Enjoy Life

This book emphasizes the fact that not since you were very young have you had a chance to think or act on your own behalf. Now you can do what works for you. Using easy-to-grasp illustrations of the focus of our lives during various stages, the author opens up new possibilities for the “new adult” to look at what retirement has to offer. I have recommended this book to several people and each has responded with thanks and enthusiasm. (My broker bought it for her mother-in-law.) Several report their identification with the personal stories the author includes. The book encourages one to think differently about one’s life, retired or not. – From Dee Monroe

And more reviews are available on Amazon

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Three Personal Qualities for Retiring Well

I am frequently asked ‘what are the qualities that are consistent among people who retire well?’  I have been pondering the answer to this question.   As I reviewed the interviews I conducted for my book and my conversations with my clients, I found that three qualities stood out.  They are Competence, Confidence and Courage, the 3 Qualities for Retiring Well.

The 3Cs:

1.       Competence – This comes from a combination of talent, skill and experience, but it does not stop there.  It is made fresh through constant learning.  The past informs us, the present teaches us and the future is what we make of it.

2.       Confidence – This uses competence as the foundation for making decisions.  It is confidence that allows a person to make the best choices, not just the easiest choices.

3.       Courage – This allows us to take positive action when there is no certainty.  It is the fuel of discovery and resilience.  Retirement is filled with challenges and opportunities; courage allows us to meet the challenges and exploit the opportunities.

Bill Roiter 

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Retirement 2009: Are You Afraid of Losing or Are You Hoping to Win?

The fear of losing is often greater than the desire to win.  Protecting what we have is a powerful human instinct, so powerful that it can keep us from what we really want.  Las Vegas reduces the fear of losing by making winning so attractive; no bells go off in the casino when someone loses, only when they win.

The news today is awash with dramatic stories of loss.  People are losing their jobs and retirement savings are sinking.  We are uncertain of what to do given the loss of our retirement security.  What can we do to protect ourselves as our finances fall?  The consensus is that you should hunker down, stay alert and wait for the eventual recovery.  All good advice.

I would add that you should also feel hopeful.  Hope is a well used word nowadays and for good reason.  It connotes a basic optimism that we need to keep us going.  Hope allows us to look at today’s realties and to understand what we can do to improve our situation.  Fear can stop us by overwhelming the hope we have as we worry about losing what we have.  We guarantee loss when we do not try to improve.  The only way to win is to plan and to act.

Before you buy your plane ticket to Las Vegas to win, consider that positive action does not always mean doing something; action can be as simple as waiting for the economy to recover.  How you act, what you do or not do, is best managed by your plan for getting what you want.  Take action based on what you want and not on what you fear.  It’s better to walk toward what you want than to run away from what scares you.  Action based on fear is easily swayed by unreliable emotions and impulses.  Take a cue from other successful people and base your actions on what you want, what is meaningful and what will work.  Remember what Mark Twain said: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear–not absence of fear.”

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The Psychological Impact of the Market Collapse

When the Trust is Gone

We try to stay positive, to look toward the future; but the news gets worse each day and then worse again the next day.  It is clear that the financial news impacts us all, even if we try to ignore it.  We are getting used to this new norm of bad news and growing financial jeopardy.

How do most people respond to this situation and what can we do to improve it?

As a unique individual, you are likely to respond to this financial crisis as you have responded during other times of crisis.   The range of response ranges from despair to acceptance to resilience.  Despair worsens an already difficult situation while resilience looks for ways to bounce back, to improve your own well-being.

In general, we cannot maintain a crisis state of mind for more than about six to eight weeks.  What was once critical becomes the expected norm.  Our minds begin to accept the new norm and looks for ways to live with this new reality.  The economy grabbed our attention in early September when the government seized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  We began to realize that this was no simple down cycle.  That makes it about 15 weeks since we entered this mess.   We are well passed the crisis stage even if we peg its start in October.

As a group we have become more somber, anxious and less secure.  We are looking for ways to stabilize our situations despite the economy’s behavior.  We will focus more on what we can control and worry more about what we cannot control.

We no longer trust our major institutions, including government, banks, investment professionals and big business, which we have looked to for leadership and security.  We are looking for guidance and support from our family and friends, and from our local communities and religious groups.  Who else can you trust?

This means that we are becoming less spontaneous, quieter, and focusing on more inward pursuits while looking for safe harbors during this storm.  We will have fewer parties; be more conservative in our behavior; look to ourselves, our families and our friends for mutual support; and we will reengage with simpler and sometimes more spiritual activities.  We will see an upswing in simpler food, watching movies at home, less vibrant clothes and an appreciation for what we have rather than what we want.  Showiness will be discouraged.  We are looking for our lost security and comfort.

How has the market’s collapse impacted you?

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Madoff’s Money Madness & Mistrust

I have not lost money due to the Maddoff scandal and would guess that neither have you. This was not because we have been savvy investors. No, it’s because we did not have enough money for Mr. Madoff to invite us into his exclusive club. Lucky us.

I have many clients who are considering retirement or who have retired. When working with them in seminars or individually I stress the importance of managing their money. My strong advice is to find a financial advisor they can trust and work with him or her to provide them with the information they need to make sound decisions. A financial advisor is as important in retirement as a good doctor and lawyer. Mr. Madoff’s crimes have now made my work to have my clients use a financial advisor all the more difficult.

Do you understand?

The first rule for building trust with a financial advisor is that the advisor should be able to clearly communicate his or her ideas to you. Being lost in a professions’ jargon should be a red flag to you that the advisor does not know how to work with you, or worse that they are keeping you confused and uncertain on purpose.

The Emperor Has No Clothes

It is remarkable to read the growing list of wealthy people who fell in behind the wealthy person ahead of them in line to throw their money into what is now known to be Mr. Madoff’s money pit. I read that a number of truly smart investors had professionals look into Mr. Madoff’s money management and they were so concerned that they reported him to the authorities; to no avail. Everyone believed everyone else and the emperor walked naked on Wall Street to the cheers of his supporters.

Who Can You Trust?

Begin by trusting yourself. If something does not feel right, explore it. Also, have two sets of independent eyes looking at your statements. Your first set of eyes is yours, you should learn how to read your investment reports and then read them. The second set of eyes can be independent financial advisor, accountant, estate lawyer, banker or another trusted advisor who understands investing and is motivated by your best interests. (If you do not have enough money to use a financial advisor to invest then you should for investments that are guaranteed or are very safe.)

People feel good about their professional investor when both performance and trust is high. Neither good performance nor trust alone can produce comfort for you. You really need both.

The following twelve questions can help you to understand your trust level with your financial advisor. It is one of 15 tools, charts and ideas offered in Chapter Five, The Financial Domain, of Beyond Work: How Accomplished People Retire Successfully (Wiley, 2008) that can help you choose and work with a financial advisor.

Bill Roiter’s[i] Twelve Questions to Assess an Advisor’s Trustworthiness

Here are 12 simple questions you can ask yourself to determine how much you trust your advisor or how much you may trust an advisor you are considering using. Read each statement and mark how true it is for you.

Trust Component:

My advisor is

To what extent is each statement true for you?

Not True

Somewhat True

True

Very true

1. Trustworthy

1. I can trust my advisor.

1

2

3

4

2. Attentive

2. My advisor listens to what I have to say.

1

2

3

4

3. Understanding

3. My advisor understands what I tell him or her.

1

2

3

4

4. A clear communicator

4. I understand what my advisor tells me.

1

2

3

4

5. Thoughtful

5. My advisor knows my situation and does not think of me as a general ‘type of client’.

1

2

3

4

6. Interested in my well-being

6. I believe that my advisor cares about me (is not just focused on the fees I pay).

1

2

3

4

7. Open to my ideas

7. My advisor welcomes my questions and discusses them with me

1

2

3

4

8. Competent

8. I feel that my advisor is skilled in his or her specialty.

1

2

3

4

9. Reliable

9. My advisor follows through on the plans we create.

1

2

3

4

10. Honest

10. My Advisor quickly takes responsibility for mistakes or problems.

1

2

3

4

11. Available

11. My advisor is available when I need him or her.

1

2

3

4

12. Compatible with me

12. I like my advisor as a person.

1

2

3

4

Sub-total for each column

Total of the four columns sub-totals

Range of scores = 12 to 48

12 = No trust

13 to 24 = Some trust

25 to 36 = Trust

37 or above = Strong trust

How did you rate your advisor? The higher the score the better. If your score falls between 20 and 36 you can look at the questions with the low scores and talk with your advisor about your concerns. You can use this Advisor’s Trustworthiness tool for all your advisors, not just your financial advisors.

Is Your Trust Warranted?

While trust is a major component of your work with a financial advisor you should have the advisor’s performance and credentials reviewed by a knowledgeable person you already trust. Remember that trust is not faith: always trust with your eyes open.

Do you trust your financial advisor? Why or why not?

[i] This copyrighted material is an excerpt taken by the author, Bill Roiter, from his book Beyond Work: How Accomplished People Retire Successfully (Wiley, 2008)


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Did you know that 100 years old isn’t as old as it used to be?

I feel bad for the people who are 99 years old and looking forward to the big one-oh-oh.  Turning 100 is not what it used to be 20 years ago.  The centenarian club is more crowded than it used to be, with more than 50,000 members in the United States alone.  If you want to get the attention once given to people turning 100, you will have to wait an additional 10 years to become a 110 year-old super-centenarian.  In 2002 there were about 18 members of that club. (Source).

What this means for those of us considering retirement or recently retired is that this age inflation is due in part to the advancement made in medical care.  More 100 year-olds mean more people in their 90s, 80s, and younger.  Many once deadly illnesses can now be treated or even cured.  Your odds of living well longer have improved.  Greater longenvity for those in their 100s also means greater longevity for you and for me.

Medicine is doing what it can, as fast as it can, to help you recover from, manage, or cure many diseases.   You can increase the effectiveness of medicine by partnering with a good doctor and doing what you can to stay as healthy as you can be.

You can learn about the role of your health during retirement in chapter 5, “The Physical Domain”, in Beyond Work: How Accomplished People Retire Successfully.  Specific information about 8 remarkable trends in health care that will be in place in 10 years or less can be found on pages 120-124 of chapter 5.

You can order a copy of Beyond Work: How Accomplished People Retire Successfully from Amazon by clicking here.

At what age to you think that you be old?  Why?

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