How do you know if your retirement is living up to its potential? There isn’t a standard definition of a successful retirement. (Maybe there should be, but there isn’t.) It is interesting to see how different people define it.
Maybe income is the yardstick. Make that income replacement. A recent article in Financial Advisor Magazine put it this way: “Successful retirement is defined as the ability to replace current income in retirement.” The Employee Benefit Research Institute, which tracks workplace retirement savings trends in America, defines retirement success in similar, if narrower, terms. To EBRI, “success” equals a combination of Social Security income and 401(k) savings that replace 80% of preretirement income after adjusting for inflation.
Maybe health matters most. Perhaps a successful retirement equates to successful aging – staving off mental and physical decline. In a poll of 768 non-retired investors conducted for the John Hancock Financial Network, 49% of respondents said being healthy best signifies retirement success. (Just 27% said having enough income represented success.) While we’d all like to feel like we are 30 when we reach 80, MarketWatch’s Elizabeth O’Brien notes that physical and mental independence shouldn’t be the only definition of successful aging: “We lionize the person living alone at 95, and while that’s certainly laudatory, we could also celebrate those who remain connected to their communities despite their infirmities, or those who have saved enough to afford whatever care is needed.
Or maybe our capacity to make a difference or grow matters most. We can make the most of the “second act” in many ways – through service, through adventure, through learning, via some blend of personal growth and leaving a legacy. Many baby boomers expect nothing less.
A successful retirement is ultimately one meeting your expectations. Within months or years after you retire, you will probably consider how things are proceeding – and if your retirement looks something like the life you had in mind or the life you planned for, then you can call it a success.
About the Independent Financial Advisor
Robert Pagliarini, PhD, CFP®, EA has helped clients across the United States manage, grow, and preserve their wealth for the past 25 years. His goal is to provide comprehensive financial, investment, and tax advice in a way that was honest and ethical. In addition, he is a CFP® Board Ambassador, one of only 50 in the country, and a real fiduciary. In his spare time, he writes personal finance books, finance articles for Forbes and develops email and video financial courses to help educate others. With decades of experience as a financial advisor, the media often calls on him for his expertise. Contact Robert today to learn more about his financial planning services.