MONEY matters

Mark Zaifman's thoughts on money, global economic trends and politics

Zen and the Art of Retirement Income Planning-Part I

Mark Zaifman   |    Tue, Jun 19, 2012 @ 03:02 PM

zen retirement planning

There’s really no easy way to define the experience of waking up your first Monday morning after a lifetime of work, and realizing you’re retired and financially independent. You made it! You don’t have to go to your cube/office/practice/business again - EVER.

For some, this first Monday morning is a Zen experience, transformational in essence, very spiritual and very powerful. For others, it’s one of the most terrifying days of their life.

How much time you invested in, how much you’ve prepared yourself emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and financially for your retirement, will have a lot to do with whether this first Monday morning turns out to be the first day of the rest of your new and glorious life OR whether the high anxiety and stress you feel when awakening to your new life becomes an ongoing trend.

Regardless of your number, (the total amount of your investments when you reach retirement) whether $1million or $10million, how much or how little time and energy you invested in transforming your relationship with money will have a profound impact on your overall sense of financial well being from that moment forward.

I’ve often noticed clients that make it to retirement with many millions of dollars of savings worry much more about their money post-work than people with much less in the bank reaching the same retirement milestone. Below are the two money personality types I most often observe.

The Worrier Type

If you’ve tended to be a worrier and stressed about money most if not all of your adult life, regardless of how many zeros are at the end of your bank balance, the odds are very high you’ll be even more of a worrier and have even higher anxiety during retirement than you did pre-retirement.

You’ll tend to be someone whose mood becomes linked to the daily swings of the stock market. Experience a few good days in the stock market, and you’ll feel jubilant. On the other hand, if the market goes south, so goes your emotional state of well being.

There is also a very good chance you’ll feel compelled to watch your portfolio daily, if not a few times a day. Usually, this emotional roller coaster, obsessive stock market watching behavior will drive your partner crazy, but when challenged, you’ll;

a) become slightly defensive

b) blame it on the crazy economy we’re currently dealing with

c) call it a hobby, or

d) end up blaming your partner for not understanding why you absolutely need to monitor your investments daily.

You think that if she or he only understood how vitally important it is to watch your investments go up and down each day, each hour, then they would understand you and stop insisting now is the time to enjoy and embrace the second half of your life.

The No-Worries Type

The no-worries money type thinks watching the stock market is a snoozer – or the thought of a daily check in to your investment portfolio makes you queasy. At the same time, you’re smart, you like to feel empowered, especially when it comes to your money, so you gained enough knowledge about personal finance and investing to be dangerous. For you and the life you’ve been imagining, this day can’t come soon enough.

You might have been an investment do-it yourselfer during your working years, but now, even though you’re frugal, you understand and appreciate the value of a professional second opinion before you launch into retirement. You may even decide to hire a financial advisor to develop a comprehensive retirement plan and manage your investments and retirement income, deciding in essence to outsource the management of your investments as well as the worry and stress that comes naturally when transitioning to a new lifestyle.

To assure success in this new life, you performed the deep and soulful inner work needed to transform your relationship with money. You challenged all your old and outdated assumptions around money and your life. You made peace with the past, you stopped blaming and feeling any shame about your money history, and you truly liberated yourself and achieved authentic and sustainable financial freedom.

For you, that first Monday will feel like one of the greatest days of your life and when asked how retirement is going, your response is: Life is good!

Part II of this blog post will be about the wonky nuts and bolts of developing a sustainable retirement income strategy. Please stay tuned and thanks for reading my blog.

Image credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/h-k-d/