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Thursday, September 5th

The Retirement Summit

At the end of August, I participated in an event created by Jesse Itzler called 29029.  The organizers rent a mountain and participants summit the mountain peak over and over again until they have climbed 29,029 feet, the same height as Mount Everest.  They call it “everesting.”  The event that I participated occurred at Snowbasin in Utah and I had to summit the mountain 13 times within 36 hours in order to finish and complete the event.

It was the hardest thing I have ever done.

I prepared for 29029 for months, conditioning my body and building my strength and endurance to be able to summit the mountain over and over again, but even with all my preparation, it took everything I had to be able to finish the climb. 

In my book, Success in the New Retirement, the final chapter draws comparisons of climbing Mount Everest to successfully managing retirement.  First there are years of preparation and things that have to be in place in order to even attempt a climb of Everest, and similarly, many years of preparation and sacrifice are required to build a nest egg that will be sufficient to provide for you when you are living without an income.  Thought, discipline, and planning are key ingredients in this accumulation stage of retirement.

But what most people are surprised at is the care that must be taken in the preservation and distribution phases of retirement.  This portion of managing your retirement has unexpected challenges and pitfalls. 

In my book, I explain that just as this is the most treacherous part of the climb of Mount Everest—the final ascent and the start of the descent—in many ways the last years just before official retirement and those first critical years in retirement are the most difficult to navigate.  At this part of retirement, the wrong step can prevent your money from lasting all the way through retirement.

As much care and planning as you have put into saving and accumulating money for retirement, most people have not given adequate thought to handing the distribution and withdrawal portion of the retirement plan. 

Here are some things to keep in mind as you begin your retirement:

Have a detailed retirement income plan – It’s important to have concrete strategies in place that specify exactly what your money will do in retirement, rather than just have a big pile of it.  Every retirement dollar needs a specific job. 

For example, you should knowwhen you will take your Social Security benefits, where you will withdraw income in case of a market downturn in the first years of retirement, and have access to money in both tax-deferred and non-qualified accounts.

Each retirement dollar should have a specific purpose and be allocated accordingly.  Some dollars will be used if the market drops and withdrawals are not recommended.  Some dollars will be in different tax categories in order to minimize your tax bill and keep your dollars working at creating interest for you rather than the government.  You may also want some dollars creating guaranteed income streams to provide for you in any market conditions. 

Plan for all the “what if” scenarios.  Make sure your portfolio is properly diversified and is evaluated for appropriate levels of risk.  Remember that when you are at or near retirement, preservation needs to be your highest priority. 

Use all the resources available to you – There is more information and help available to retirees today than ever before.  Today there are also more kinds of investments available that can meet your specific needs.  Costs and fees of investing have never been lower.  But you want to make sure that the accounts and vehicles you choose for your money are the best place for them.

Are you getting the best bang for your investment dollar?  Are your returns being eaten up by fees?  Are the risks of losses leaving you vulnerable or nervous?  What is the wisest withdrawal strategy given your various accounts. 

All of the decisions you make early on in retirement will make a difference in how long your money lasts and the kind of retirement lifestyle you can enjoy.  Make sure your portfolio allocation is the right one for you and is designed with your priorities in mind.

Use a trusted guide – When I was preparing for my 29029 climb, I did research.  I sought out people that had experience and I used their knowledge to help me properly prepare.  I prepared both mentally and physically to achieve my goals.

Today, more than ever before, people are navigating their own way through retirement.  Long gone are days of traditional retirement and pension accounts.  In many ways, retirement planning has become a do-it-yourself project for people.

The trouble is that most people didn’t spend their careers in finance or money management sectors.  A skilled fiduciary advisor—a financial advisor that is required to put your needs and interest above their own—can give you valuable assistance and insight that can make it much more likely for your money to last as long as you need it to. 

The reality is that most people don’t know what they’re paying in fees, what vehicles are available to them, what tax advantages they can take, and how to establish guaranteed income streams.  They aren’t working with all the information available to them and it makes the retirement ascent and descent much more difficult.

A trusted guide can make all the difference in this process and can help you set up a plan with a clear strategy and also put protections in place to reduce loss and protect you against market shifts.  In the end, someone who knows the mountain you are up against will be an invaluable resource for you as you make decisions and set up your plans.

At Acute Wealth Advisors we are experts at helping our clients scale and conquer the retirement mountain.  Over the years, we have helped our clients successfully accumulate, preserve, and withdraw their retirement funds in a way that allowed them to create the exact retirement they want, while ensuring their money lasts as long as they need it to.

We care about preparing you mentally, emotionally, and financially for the next phase of your life, where you will live without an income and rely on the savings you have so carefully built and accumulated over your lifetime.

You don’t ever have to navigate retirement planning alone.  We are here to guide you through the challenges that you might not be fully aware of, prepare for anything you might face along the way, and protect your money so it’s there to provide the life you want.  Contact us today for help in your retirement journey.  We’re here to help. 

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Matt Deaton