I was catching up on The Walking Dead recently and it got me thinking about retirement savings. Yes, really, it did. What does life in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, battling zombie hordes, dealing with predatory human survivors, and trying to maintain one's humanity in a hostile world have in common with the struggle to prepare for and survive retirement? Actually, quite a bit.
With 10,000 boomers a day hitting 65, we are definitely in the midst of a retirement apocalypse. Hordes of retirees every day are pouring into retirement and transitioning from a life of paychecks to a life of creating their own checks, what I like to call "mychecks." Like the slow moving zombies in The Walking Dead, many retirees essentially "drift" into retirement. Doing very little to adjust their investment strategies to better reflect the new world they have just stepped into -- a life without a paycheck. For many Americans, this "drift" or inertia can be a dangerous approach as they enter a new world that could involve battling inflation, the ups and downs of the market, rising healthcare costs, and the unexpected -- a world that could in fact be very hostile to their retirement nest egg.
So how do retirees avoid the drift? Simple. Really simple: Don't drift. Look at the moment of retirement as a planning event.
Given the fact that your paycheck is gone, it is a time to take stock in the investments and resources that you have at your disposal to serve you during retirement. At a minimum, consider doing these three things:
1. Determine what expenses you'll have in retirement so you can adequately determine how much money you'll need.
2. Meet with a financial professional, even if you've done it all on your own up until now. A professional can create a retirement income strategy for you to follow, personalized for your unique needs.
3. Cover your essential expenses (housing, food, healthcare, etc.) with guaranteed income like Social Security, pension payments or lifetime income from an annuity and use your "other" money to fund discretionary expenses like hobbies and travel.
It is no longer about what you shoulda, coulda, or woulda done. It is about taking the retirement savings you have and making sure you have positioned it as best as you can for a comfortable retirement.
Whatever your situation, don't be a zombie. Don't drift into retirement. Be a survivor and have an awesome time living in the aftermath of the retirement apocalypse.