Category: Blog

4 Misperceptions About Life in Retirement

Published in: Blog, Retirement |

As many people live longer and healthier lives, we’re witnessing a move from traditional, “sit-back-and-relax” attitudes about retirement, toward “use-it-or-lose-it” approaches. What accounts for this significant shift in how we plan to live our later years? Cyn Meyer, senior wellness coach and founder of Second Wind Movement, explains that many of us are thinking differently about retirement due in large part to what we are learning about the physical, mental and social aspects of aging.

This more nuanced mindset is especially valuable for women, who often feel more satisfied as the weight of various personal and professional responsibilities lessens with age — and who, researchers note, are emotionally and socially well-equipped to handle the challenges of aging.

Meyer explores four misperceptions about aging and retirement, and in doing so encourages people to think deeply and broadly about their later years:

Retirement years are meant for rest and relaxation. While true to a point, Meyer cites research that demonstrates people in their 50s and older are continuing their educations, beginning new personal relationships and reshaping themselves professionally. Looks like retirement is also a time to get up and go — in a new direction!

Depression, loneliness, anxiety and dementia are unavoidable during the retirement years. Meyer acknowledges multiple instances of inevitable physical decline linked to aging, including: eye trouble, hearing loss, diminishing mobility and balance, declining mental stamina and increased fragility due to lower bone/muscle mass. And yet, she also points out that assessing and increasing our social, professional and educational interactions and involvements as we move toward retirement may help offset potential emotional or mental challenges for individuals later in life.

Retirement puts an end to learning opportunities. Hobbies, skills and high-level thinking about complex issues all help keep the brain healthy, engaged and flourishing. Meyer highlights research that details how people build neural pathways and forge new connections in their brains throughout their lives. In dispelling this misperception about aging, Meyer also encourages people to understand that learning is a key aspect of staying holistically fit in retirement.

We have little control over most aging factors. Healthy environments, lifestyles and daily behaviors — elements individuals can control — help balance influences from factors we can’t control such as genetics, pre-existing medical conditions and the “normal” limitations that come with aging, according to Meyer. She stresses that retired individuals should develop good habits and steady routines as they approach retirement to help ensure they are able to continue to achieve their goals and dreams for years to come.

We are living longer, healthier lives, and research supports a new outlook on retirement in the 21st century. While we all will experience physical, emotional and mental changes with age, individuals — and women, in particular — can take steps to get the most out of their post-work years by remaining physically active, mentally stimulated and socially and emotionally engaged.

Contact The Humphreys Group to discuss what’s important for you to experience and accomplish in your retirement years, and to learn how we can provide financial planning support for your 21st-century retirement mindset.

Why You Should Take a “No Rules” Approach to Retirement

Published in: Blog, Retirement |

“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” goes the old saying, a fitting question for women facing retirement in the 21st century. We have spent decades helping redefine workplaces, and changed the landscape of the modern work world by making inroads toward an array of jobs few women in previous generations were able to access, via roads often rockier than ours. As part of a generation that can expect longer and likely healthier retirement years, it’s never too early to ask ourselves what we want those years to look like.

Given that most retirement role models of the past were men (who seemed to relish their move from work by devoting their days to leisure activities and hobbies, tinkering around the house, sitting in front of the television or traveling to sunny climates), many women have had few examples and no clear expectations of how to experience their retirements, outside of continuing to be caretakers and homemakers.

What a difference a few decades make!

For most women, the plans or expectations we had when we were younger about what it would be like to age — into our 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond — have changed. While previous generations could expect to work in a single field at a single career, then retire and begin the process of slowing down mentally and physically, many women today have opportunities to delve into “encore careers.” They are re-inventing themselves in their professional as well as personal lives — and redefining retirement on their terms.

As women live extended life spans and spend more years in good health, we are more active, more productive, more engaged, more employed and more employable than previous generations have been. Studies show our levels of activity help us enjoy retirement more, with fewer unspoken rules that limit us in what we’re doing during those years or restrict how we’re doing it.

Consider this question to jump-start your thinking about your retirement experience: What do you want your life to look like in 10 years? 20 years? 30 years (not so farfetched, as financial planners are increasingly projecting client lifespans of 100 years)? Do you want to work? Travel? Get more education? Will you be a caretaker? A volunteer? A mentor? Will you embark on a new career or creative project? How busy do you want to be? Who do you want to be to and for others? Who do you want to be to and for yourself?

We spend the bulk of our working years being shaped, or even limited by, social constructs, norms and expectations regarding what we can and should do. We also, whether we’re aware of such behaviors or not, may constrain ourselves by maintaining well-worn thought patterns and adhering to familiar behaviors. We do this to preserve continuity and order in our personal and professional lives; we can only do this for so long before our habits risk becoming entrenched.

As we age, we have opportunities to loosen our maintenance of our status quo outlook. We bring more wisdom to our jobs and our lives. We have experienced a variety of life’s triumphs and trials. We’ve gained resilience. We’ve also widened our perspectives about the world and ourselves: we know who we are and what is important to us.

We at The Humphreys Group suggest you face the challenge of creating a new construct regarding the retirement phase of your life. Reach out to work with our advisors as you continue to ask questions that matter to you. Resolve to make your own rules, and become your own role model for making the most of your retirement years. We are here to wonder with you, as the poet Mary Oliver wondered: What is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

How to Plan Your Retirement Journey

Published in: Blog, Retirement |

For most generations, retirement has long been considered a leisure-filled “destination” that professionals reach after decades of hard work. However, it’s becoming clear that retirement in the 21st century is less about reaching retirement and more “about the journey” through it once you’re there. How prepared are you to enjoy your retirement journey?

Research continues to show that many retirees are living longer and remaining engaged in a variety of activities during retirement; in fact, when building retirement plans, some advisors now calculate clients’ life expectancy to reach 100 years.[1] That means we at The Humphreys Group recommend our clients not only examine their fiscal strategies when thinking about retirement; we also encourage clients to take a fresh look at what they envision for themselves when they ease out of their workplace lives and professional responsibilities.

Since women still need to pay careful attention to the details of how they will afford a long-term retirement, we take a two-part approach when examining their journey.

First Look: Finances

Studies show women tend to retire earlier than men, may be less familiar with the “big picture” of family finances and may not have saved or invested as much for retirement as their male counterparts have. We initially advise women who are preparing for retirement to spend time on their financial plans by taking these steps:

  • Assess savings, spending and debt
  • Increase financial literacy and understand how best to diversify your portfolio(s)
  • Research affordable health care options, since retirement can include a greater need for medical care
  • Determine how and when to access retirement funds

What’s Next: Retirement’s Fun Factor

Once clients have made their financial considerations, we support their plans to fully engage in their journey through their retirement years by asking questions such as:

What skills and abilities would you like to sustain and share after retiring? We prompt clients to consider teaching, mentoring or volunteering in their professional field(s) so they can pass along well-earned knowledge and experience to younger professionals in their networks.

What activities and interests would you like to renew or explore in retirement? With the time and freedom that come with retirement, we encourage women to feel empowered to expand their boundaries of what they want to do. What do they dream of? Clients make plans that include traveling, taking classes or working part-time to earn supplemental income as they explore fields that reflect their personal (not professional!) interests.

How will you commit to an active lifestyle in retirement? While keeping each individual’s unique abilities in mind, we support our clients’ steps to embrace and engage in activities that bolster their physical health, mental fitness and social connections as they age.

Like many aspects of modern life and work, today’s retirement experiences look and feel different from those of previous generations. Following years of dedication to their professional lives, women in particular stand to experience retirement in exciting and innovative ways. Our advisors work to ensure our clients are prepared to reach that destination with both financial security and the ability to enjoy the journey through retirement for years to come. Contact us if you have questions about your retirement plan or need a second opinion on your approach.

[1] Katie Robertson, “Why the World Needs to Rethink Retirement,” The New York Times, December 4, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/30/business/retirement/why-the-world-needs-to-rethink-retirement.html, accessed January 2019.

What Does It Mean to Maintain an Active Retirement?

Published in: Blog, Retirement |

For many professionals, retirement used to mean a complete end to work and the start of unfettered leisure time. But recent data show many adults are taking a different approach to their retirements by exploring a number of options available to them in today’s complex and complicated work world.

We continue to unpack information from the 2014 Merrill Lynch study, Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations, and learn that many individuals now embark on a more nuanced, four-phase retirement process: pre-retirement, career intermission, re-engagement and leisure. Even more specifically, it’s interesting to note another set of data, which indicates women tend to experience and engage in retirement differently than their male counterparts.

The Merrill Lynch study rejects the myth that retirement is a time of declined engagement and instead outlines how individuals begin to prepare — ahead of retirement — to incorporate work and other activities into their post-career lives. According to the study, as many as 54% of pre-retirees who want to work in retirement start to make plans two years before they retire (pre-retirement).

Almost 70% of the Merrill Lynch subjects who scheduled a break (career intermission) between their careers and post-retirement work said they did so to allow time to “recharge and relax” from work responsibilities. While this can be a risky course of action — older workers can be perceived as out of step and out of touch with business networks, industry trends and evolving technologies; it may take longer to find employment as an older and retired worker — most are able return to the workplace in ways they seek, with the added bonus of increased work-life balance and flexibility (re-engagement). Eventually, as they advance in age, many of those surveyed embrace their earned leisure time as the final phase of their retirements.

But the 2016 Forbes article by Richard Eisenberg, “Retirement Life: Men and Women Do It Very Differently,” highlights a 2016 TIAA study that discovered women take on more diverse activities than men when it comes to work and play during their retirement years. According to Eisenberg, the TIAA study found that men are slightly more likely to give their time to sports-related activities or remain close to traditional work-related environments (through consulting, teaching/mentoring or part-time work). Retired women stay almost equally involved with work-related environments, but also give their time to volunteering, care-taking and engaging in learning and creative opportunities, as well as staying physically and socially active.

These studies — and what they reveal about how 21st century professionals approach work and retirement — are food for thought for women at any stage of their professional careers. You’re putting time, effort, skill, focus and dedication into doing your best at the work you do. Why not also put some of those energies toward getting ready for your ideal retirement? Wherever you are in your retirement journey, The Humphreys Group can help you ensure that you are well-prepared to head down the post-work path you want to take. Contact our team to start the conversation.

Retirement Means the End of Work – Or Does It?

Published in: Blog, Retirement |

Age, Savings, Ability: studies show these are the three most influential factors that affect how individuals spend their traditional retirement years. For women in the 21st century, the combination of longer life spans, a choppy economy, and sustained desire to remain in the workforce means that retirement looks and feels markedly different than it used to for many older professionals.

According to Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations, a 2014 Merrill Lynch study conducted in partnership with Age Wave, almost 50 percent of retirees expect to work or are currently working during what they view as their retirement years. And roughly 70 percent of non-retired people over age 50 – “pre-retirees” – are planning to work during their retirements.

What has influenced the trend to continue to work after retirement?

When asked, those at or nearing retirement age say they want to continue working to remain personally and professionally engaged and stimulated, to explore entrepreneurship opportunities and to ensure their ongoing financial security.

Women’s retirement needs differ

A more recent 2018 study by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave – Women and Financial Wellness: Beyond the Bottom Line – details the nuances of women’s retirements. Women continue to take more time from their work lives to address personal responsibilities such as family, and they retire slightly earlier than their male counterparts. Furthermore, while data show that women are now living longer and healthier than previous working generations, they wind up earning and investing less overall than their male counterparts by the time they reach traditional retirement age – which means the risk of outliving their finances is real.

Knowing that women’s retirement needs are distinct, we advise our clients to discuss what they envision for their retirements and begin to make financial plans for retirement while they are still working. Some questions to consider:

  • At what age do you hope to retire? Begin with your ideal age, but be prepared to adjust your expectations as you examine your financial readiness for retirement.

 

  • What is your current financial status as it relates to retirement? Consider your current debts, investments, earnings and other income sources such as pension and Social Security.

 

  • If you plan to continue to work in some capacity after retirement, what do you envision for your worklife? Assess what kind of work you’d like to do – as a part-time employee, an entrepreneur, an unpaid volunteer or steady earner – while considering the hours, effort, travel and benefits (financial earnings and otherwise) involved.

 

  • Will you take a break or look for post-retirement work immediately? Determine your projected financial preparedness and stability at the time of your retirement; knowing this can help you gauge how much time you can afford to take off to enjoy retirement and explore post-retirement work opportunities.

 

  • How will you manage your finances in retirement? Meet with an advisor to develop your post-retirement, long-term financial plans and to keep them up-to-date as your retirement continues.

Clearly, the “workscape” of the 21st century is changing how all individuals view work and approach retirement, and also now significantly influences individuals’ long-term financial and life plans. As a distinct group that is working and living longer, healthier, more professionally-engaged lives, women should be mindful to develop financial plans and post-retirement goals that will address their specific needs and talents, and provide them fiscal security for years to come. The Humphreys Group is committed to your vibrant financial success every step of your worklife journey. Contact our advisors to learn more about how we can help you make the most of your post-retirement life.

The Possibilities of 2019

Published in: Blog |

I Dwell In Possibility

 

I dwell in Possibility –

A fairer House than Prose –

More numerous of Windows –

Superior – for Doors –

 

Of Chambers as the Cedars –

Impregnable of eye –

And for an everlasting Roof

The Gambrels of the Sky –

 

Of Visitors – the fairest –

For Occupation – This –

The spreading wide my narrow Hands

To gather Paradise –

 

  Emily Dickinson

Vocational Resilience – Making Your Work Life Work For You

Published in: Blog |

For the final part of our series on resiliencies in middle age, in this blog we look at the value of Vocational Resiliency and offer ways to strengthen your professional life and skills as a new year approaches.

Vocational Resilience means securely knowing the skills and talents you bring to your workplace environment. But it doesn’t stop there. This aspect of your life also means you are continuing to explore ways to enrich and broaden your professional expertise, developing additional abilities and strengths, and seeking out new opportunities that may arise from a change in work status (whether planned or unexpected).

What can you do to ensure you build Vocational Resiliency in your work life at middle age? Consider these action items:

Learn. Take advantage of chances to increase your knowledge base, develop aspects of your current professional skill set or discover a new passion worth pursuing. Stay up to date on opportunities to attend classes, lectures, speaker nights and other related learning events; find such opportunities online or by contacting alumni associations and professional organizations.

Network. Professional organizations and alumni associations are also a valuable source of information about social events that may help you broaden your professional network. Remember that the professionals in your network can play a sustained and helpful role with offering advice and guidance should you want to take your work life in a fresh direction or if you face a change in your work status in middle age.

Advocate. Recognize the breadth and depth of your skills, and consider how you can actively put them to their best use in your work life. For example, join a challenging project that would benefit from your expertise, nurture your internal and external company work relationships, or clarify your long-term professional goals so that you know what you want your work life to look like in the coming years.

Mentor. Share work-related lessons you’ve learned and wisdom you’ve earned as a professional by building your support network among younger co-workers who are looking for guidance as they gain their own professional experience. That support is likely to be returned in the years to come.

Prepare. Consider taking your professional life in a fresh direction, particularly as you assess other areas of your life that may need your time and attention in middle age (such as family, health, finances, community). Knowing what your customers and bosses value in you – as well as being confident and knowledgeable about the value you bring to your workplace – can inspire an entrepreneurial mindset that may lead you toward new opportunities in middle age and beyond.

With our clients topmost in our thoughts, during the past few weeks we’ve examined the many areas of resiliency – Financial, Social, Community, Physical, Spiritual and Vocational. Why? Because The Humphreys Group believes in taking a holistic approach when it comes to helping our clients with their financial planning needs.

As the year winds down and with 2019 on the horizon, we support the efforts individuals and families are making to ensure their future well-being in all aspects of their lives. We look forward to offering our professional financial advice and assistance throughout the year to come.

Physical and Spiritual Resilience – Discover What Drives You

Published in: Blog |

As part of our series on resiliencies in middle age, in this blog we look at the value of Physical and Spiritual Resiliencies and offer ways to reinforce your health and mindset as the year winds down.

Nurturing your Physical Resilience means you are making the effort to keep your body strong – eating nutritionally, exercising within your abilities and staying well-rested. However, challenges in your life and at work may negatively affect your health and drain your stamina. We’re often taking care of others during our middle-age years (children, parents, extended family) and providing guidance to friends and colleagues, so be sure to take a step back from day-to-day activities and involvements to assess how well you’re taking take care of yourself. A few questions to ask:

  • Am I getting enough exercise and enough rest?
  • Am I eating foods that strengthen my body and give me energy?
  • Am I taking time to engage in activities I enjoy as a way to recharge my energy?
  • Am I allowing myself some downtime, a chance to breathe from all that’s expected of me?

To foster your Physical Resilience in the coming year, develop a plan and touch base with your support networks, including friends, family, colleagues and health professionals, in your quest to tackle stress or recover from physical issues that may be related to injuries, restless nights, seasonal illnesses or family care.

While building Physical Resilience can be a public effort, tending to your Spiritual Resilience may be a more private, personal matter (although one equally important to foster in middle age). Not necessarily religious in nature, a well-grounded outlook and attitude are as important as maintaining your bodily health.

At this point in your life you possess wisdom from lessons you’ve learned and challenges you’ve overcome at work and outside of the office. You’ve likely found the courage to handle setbacks and surprises, and nurtured a sense of purpose as you’ve grown through the years. To strengthen your Spiritual Resilience in middle age, take some time to examine the factors that drive your behaviors, attitudes and outlook in your personal and professional lives.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • What currently guides me toward a deeper sense of myself and my role in life? Examine the values, activities and relationships that currently give you focus, energy, emotional strength, stability and direction. Resolve to bolster those aspects of yourself in the coming year.
  • How can I continue to develop and maintain deeper connections in my work and my life? Learn about mindfulness or meditation techniques, reflect on rituals that are important to you – ones that help you feel safe, calm and connected to a “bigger picture” – and work to share or delegate responsibilities with others.
  • Do I practice self-forgiveness and self-discovery? Middle age is a time when individuals may grapple with unmet expectations or disappointments that can lead to undeserved self-criticism. Remember life doesn’t progress in a straight line: learn how to practice self-compassion, understand what drains you or energizes you, and give attention to activities, hobbies and other aspects of life and work that you excel at and enjoy. Pursue ways to adopt an outlook that keeps self-judgement to a minimum.

Middle age can be a particularly demanding time of life, but The Humphreys Group wants all of our clients to enter the New Year feeling their physical best and confident in their abilities to make reflective decisions in their lives, work and finances. With 2019 approaching, we are here to support your endeavors and help you explore strategies that best address who you are today as you make your plans for tomorrow.

Nurturing Emotional and Social Resilience

Published in: Blog |

As part of our series on resiliencies in middle age, in this blog we look at the value of Emotional and Social Resilience and offer some tips on how to strengthen these abilities ahead of another busy (and possibly stressful!) holiday season.

First of all, understand that Emotional Resilience – the ability to handle tough situations – is partly affected by factors we can’t control such as age and previous exposure to trauma. However, there are ways to nurture those aspects you do have some say in, and to bolster your abilities to react to stress.

Middle age presents any number of unique challenges such as aging parents, college-bound children, health concerns, job changes and financial uncertainties. Each of these can contribute to raising our stress levels, so let’s examine the factors you can work to fortify by asking a few questions:

Awareness: Does stress get to you? Some of us feel overwhelmed or immobilized in times of stress; some of us are energized and motivated by the busy and unpredictable. Think about why you have the reactions you have, and reflect on what you want to do differently. Knowing what stressful moments or phases reveal about you is the first step toward strengthening your emotional and social resilience in trying times.

Response: How do you react when stressed? Once you are aware of whether stress energizes or depletes you, explore the various reactions you have in those demanding moments. While there are many aspects of stressful situations we can’t control, we can work to control how we respond to those situations – deep breaths instead of yelling, a pause instead of rushing around, quiet speech instead of a raised voice.

Perspective: What does stress look like to you? You’ve done the work to assess what stress feels like, now explore how you view a stressful development. Is it an obstacle, a setback? Or can you see a new opportunity and a positive challenge from a difficult turn? Putting a fresh lens on your outlook can help you battle feelings of defeat and boost your ability to withstand a trying time.

Humor: Are you able to smile at the smaller frustrations you encounter? Take this step once you’ve done the serious work of understanding why and how stress affects you. While not discounting significant issues that can tax our emotions and tire us, we can find some respite from stress by maintaining a sense of humor about the “small stuff” that challenges us.

Lastly but importantly: as you nurture and grow your Emotional Resilience make sure to hone your Social Resilience by reaching out to various support networks and interacting with them during stressful times.

Support: Who helps you cope with stress at home, at work, in your community? Reflect on the strength of your relationships and continue to grow a diverse network of personal and professional connections you can lean on during stressful times. Nurture bonds with individuals or groups that listen to you and provide you with positive feedback. Seek out those with whom you can share stories or similar interests to deepen your connections; established support groups can bolster both your emotional and social resiliencies on a deeper level, especially if you’re dealing with longer-term and more complex stressors related to health, home and family life, or work.

We’ve said it before: The Humphreys Group realizes there are many ways to build and flex your resiliency muscles. By tending to various forms of resiliencies you are able to maintain a healthy perspective on stress during middle age so that you can make measured and informed decisions about your next steps in work and life – wherever they may take you in the coming year.

Strengthening Your Financial Resilience in Middle Age

Published in: Blog |

Our resilience series started by outlining how middle age is a time to grow our resiliencies. In the next few blogs, we’ll examine each of these resiliencies more closely, and offer suggestions on steps you can take to ensure you are making the most of what you’ve earned – drawing on the wisdom that comes with age and experience.

We’ll start by discussing Financial Resilience. This means you’ve started to plan for both known and unexpected financial turns that may affect your personal life, professional work, emotional well-being and physical and mental health. By developing a fiscal strategy that grows and changes as your life does, you fortify your financial resilience. But what does that entail?

Take a close look at your income, savings, budget and insurance to determine your financial resilience. We encourage our clients to begin this process by asking questions such as these to determine which areas of their financial lives may need more attention:

  • Are my income sources diverse? Realize that multiple income sources support fiscal resilience.
  • Are my income sources secure? Am I financially prepared to weather a job loss, a decrease in income(s) or an increase in debt? Understand the potential costs of these scenarios.
  • Do I understand my current debt-to-income ratio? Do I foresee any significant near-term changes to this ratio? Remember that the less debt you have, the more financially resilient you’re able to be as you age.
  • How much cash do I have available in case of an emergency? Consider how well you are able to access your savings and assets, especially in case of a financial emergency.
  • Am I living within a budget? Examine where you may be able to reduce or cut costs to ensure an increase to your long-term savings.
  • Do I have adequate insurance? Assess how well your life and/or disability insurance will protect you and any dependents in case of financial challenges due to ill health and/or loss of income.
  • Am I working with an advisor? Advisors can help clients weigh their financial planning options and make informed fiscal decisions.

You’ve worked hard and want to enjoy middle age and beyond.  The Humphreys Group advisors answer these and any other questions you may have about your fiscal plans and offer comprehensive support to clients seeking to improve their financial resilience.