Many investors have become worried about the future of their retirement plans during this pandemic. Between health concerns, the volatility of the stock market and forced isolation, it’s safe to say that there has been both reason and opportunity to question what our future in retirement might look like.
It’s important to realize that while we have not faced anything quite like the COVID-19 virus before, we have faced health concerns, market volatility and isolation — albeit not at the same time. Everyone has experience that they can lean on to get through the components of this crisis. Clients should see this as an opportunity to learn four key lessons about retirement:
1. Have a plan.
Clients who had a financial plan before the pandemic should have more confidence today than those who did not. Unless goals change, the plan should not. When the current medical uncertainty ends, clients likely will have a very clear picture of priorities — which is essential for planning for the later years of their working life. They also may find out priorities are very different than they thought they would be.
2. Create a schedule.
As important as planning finances are, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Just like many people who’ve been working from home, many new retirees struggle with what to do during their days. One way they can maintain their sanity is by developing a new schedule that works for their new situation. What things do they want to make sure to continue?
Encourage them to create time blocks for priorities to make sure that the things that are important to them still get done. Creating an overall schedule for the days and weeks can prevent them from feeling like Bill Murray’s character in the movie, “Groundhog Day,” who relives the same day over and over again. I know more than one person who, when working from home, has wondered, “What day is it again?”
3. Have a purpose.
During their working lives, many Americans find their purpose and identity in their work. The recent work-from-home period has caused many people to re-evaluate the importance they place on their work identity. When they exit the workforce, many retirees are forced to do a similar evaluation.
The most emotionally successful retirees have a greater purpose or passion that guides their activities. Whether it’s teaching younger professionals, volunteering to help one of their favorite causes or helping to raise grandchildren, everyone needs a reason to get out and stay active. Not only will it help us physically but remaining active has been proven to have mental and spiritual benefits as well.
4. Have a community.
One major difficulty about the COVID-19 virus has been the shelter-in-place orders and required social distancing. People are wired to be in community — we are simply better together.
This year the number of active users of Zoom, a video conferencing tool, has increased by roughly 20 times! Many of us could talk on the phone, but there’s just something about actually seeing people that helps us feel more connected. When we can’t have that connection, we miss it. Having a robust network to stay plugged into is essential during retirement, too. In fact, maintaining a healthy community can help prevent the onset of depression in retirement (which is more common than you’d think).
There are many ways to “test drive” retirement, but we rarely get a chance to actually see what parts of retirement might feel and look like while we’re actually still working. In fact, for many of us, this might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Clients should not let it go to waste.
This slowdown is not happening to them, it’s happening for them. If clients are intentional about it, they can use the current inconvenience to alter the course of their retirement plan and to develop a lifestyle that they can look forward to, rather than one that they fear.
Chip Munn is a senior wealth advisor and CEO of Signature Wealth Strategies. He is the author of “The Retirement Remix: A Modern Solution to an Old School Problem,” and host of The Retirement Remix and Maximum Advisor podcasts. For more information, please visit, www.chipmunn.com and connect with him on Twitter, @chip_munn.