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Retirement Starts Today Radio

Benjamin Brandt wants to teach you how to retire! Listen in as Benjamin Brandt CFP©, RICP© answers the questions on the minds of the modern retiree, often joined by the top experts in the retirement planning industry. Ask Benjamin a question here: https://retirementstartstodayradio.com/ask-a-question/
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Now displaying: August, 2021
Aug 30, 2021

Since travel is on many soon-to-be retirees' must-do lists I have created this summer travel series with various travel experts. Danielle Desir from the Thought Card podcast joins me today to discuss how to travel to any destination on a budget. Recognized by Flight Network as one of the best travel hackers in the world, Danielle has figured out how to travel to bucket-list destinations on a dime. Are you ready to learn how to plan your next big trip on any budget? Listen in to discover how.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:22] Danielle’s journey to bucket list budget travel
  • [3:23] Identify the things that you value
  • [7:21] Take an individual approach 
  • [10:53] Danielle’s top destinations
  • [12:32] How to choose to repeat a destination
  • [15:41] Jet lag tips
  • [20:47] Where to learn more about travel hacking with Danielle

If you’re on a budget, don’t settle for inexpensive destinations, think big!

Many people think that if they are on a budget they can only travel to budget-friendly places, but Danielle Desir takes a different approach. As a travel hacker, Danielle has learned how to make travel to bucket-list destinations more affordable. She describes using an abundance mentality as a way to make affordable travel work. She recommends getting creative when planning, “take what you have and make it work.”

Identify what matters to you

The first step in becoming a financially savvy traveler is to identify what you value in travel. Is it important to you to be comfortable on a flight? Do you like to eat out and try the best local cuisine? Do you want to see everything you can in one location? Do you prefer luxury accommodations? 

Once you have identified what the most important aspects of travel are to you then you will understand where you can be flexible in your spending. If eating out isn’t important to you then you can save money by packing a sack lunch each day. If a fancy hotel room isn’t important then you could save money by staying in a hostel or an inexpensive Airbnb or motel. 

Understanding what you value in travel will help you save money and ensure that you have an amazing time on your trip. 

Make a game of saving money

Another way to save money is to gamify your planning experience. By making a game of saving money you can compete with yourself to see how much money you can save each time you travel. You can cut costs in a variety of ways by looking for inexpensive accommodation, saving on flights, or by using travel points. Gamifying your travel costs allows you to get creative and save more. 

Communication is key when it comes to couples’ travel

When traveling with your significant other it is important to take into account what they value as well. Make sure to communicate with them so that you are both on the same page. They may value different things about travel so it is important not to skimp in the areas that matter to them. 

You should also be understanding of your partner's travel experience. There may be one partner that is more travel savvy than the other. That means that the travel-savvy partner needs to be patient and explain the importance of the things that you do to save money when traveling. 

It is also important to remember that traveling in retirement will be much different than traveling for work. You are out there to have fun. Listen to this episode with travel expert Danielle Desir to hear how you can travel to any destination affordably. 

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Aug 23, 2021

 Do you have bond funds in your portfolio? Many people understand the way that bonds work, but they may not know how bond funds work. El has written in to ask this question which I will answer in the listener questions segment. 

Before we get to that retirement question, we’ll take a look at a MarketWatch article titled Are You in Retirement Hell? It was such a catchy title that I had to check it out. 

The article expresses the author’s struggle with finding challenge and meaning in retirement. You won’t want to miss the ways that you can avoid your own retirement hell. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:32] Are you in retirement hell?
  • [5:38] How to prevent retirement hell
  • [6:56] How do bond funds work?
  • [12:53] What are alternative options to bond funds?
  • [16:52] Does John have enough money to retire?

Are you in retirement hell?

Retirement is a time of fun and relaxation. You no longer have exhausting work schedules, long commutes, or alarm clocks waking you up every morning. Every day is yours to do as you wish. 

Passing the days pursuing leisurely activities like playing golf or visiting the grandkids may be just perfect for some laid-back retirees, but for those looking for more challenging pursuits, these carefree days could quickly turn into retirement hell. 

You can recognize if you are in retirement hell if you are feeling lost and vulnerable. You may even sink into a depression as the activities that you once enjoyed feel empty and meaningless. 

How to fix (or prevent) retirement hell

In the article, the author mentions that he didn’t break out of retirement hell until he finally sat down and defined his concept of fine

Contentment is an important part of retirement, it’s so important that I even discussed it once in a previous episode with Fritz Gilbert. When you’re done listening to this episode, pop back over to that one and have a listen. 

I always like to say that you shouldn’t be retiring away from something, instead retire to something. It’s important to consider what you will do with those extra 40 hours a week that you now have at your disposal. 

You don’t want to wait until you are in the thick of retirement hell to figure this out. Try creating a practice retirement with some of your vacation time. Take a couple of weeks off and don’t go anywhere or do anything exciting. Instead, try passing the days as you would like to when you retire. 

How do bond funds work?

A bond fund is similar to a mortgage, but you have a group of investors and a company instead of the mortgage lender and home buyer. 

Bonds can be purchased individually and held to maturity or they can be traded. Bonds are similar to stocks in that they can go up or down in value but they have different interest rates and different rates of maturity. 

To spread out the risk of buying individual bonds, most investors choose to invest in a basket of bonds or a bond mutual fund. The risk is spread in the same way that you spread out the risk in your stock portfolio. 

What are alternative options to bond funds?

If you aren’t happy with the bond funds that you have now try Googling portfolio immunization. Portfolio immunization means that you match your retirement liabilities with your retirement assets. 

The way to do this is to purchase a bond in advance so that it matures the year that you need the cash flow. The specific benefit of this strategy is holding the bond until maturity. By holding the bond until it matures you remove the interest rate risk. 

Make sure to stay tuned until the very end where I answer John’s question about whether he has enough money to retire. You may be surprised by my recommendation. 

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Aug 16, 2021

Are you preparing for a successful retirement? If you are, you’ll need to consider more than just your finances because 80% of a successful retirement has nothing to do with money. However, when people focus on retirement planning, money is often the only thing they focus on. In the retirement headlines segment this week, we’ll check out an article from Financial Advisor Magazine titled Right Way Retirement. This article takes a look at the non-financial aspects of retirement that many financial advisors miss when it comes to retirement planning. 

In the listener questions segment, I answer a question from Majid about working while collecting Social Security. Make sure to tune in until the end to hear how to complete the earnings test so that you will understand how much you can earn and how to avoid Social Security penalties.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:12] To plan for retirement you need to stay ahead of the curve
  • [4:00] 6 items to focus on in retirement planning
  • [8:03] Will income from a part-time job affect the amount of Social Security I receive?

Retirement isn’t only about the money

Robert Laura recently published an article in Financial Advisor Magazine about doing what it takes to create a successful retirement. The author noticed that most financial advisors that help people get ready for retirement focus solely on the financial aspect of this life change. However, retirement isn’t all about the money. He has noticed that advisors often have a blind spot for the areas of retirement that aren’t financially related. To truly prepare for retirement, people need to take a more holistic approach. 

6 ways to create a successful retirement 

  1. Replace your work identity. Many retirees feel like they lose a significant piece of their identity when they leave the workforce. To combat this sense of loss, identify the specific areas of your career that you get fulfillment from. Then think of ways that you can parlay that area of fulfillment into your life in retirement. A couple of ways that retirees choose to carry on their former work identity in retirement is through mentoring or consulting.
  2. Fill your time with meaningful tasks. Once you retire you’ll have a 40-50 hour space to fill in your week. Creating a retirement routine can help combat boredom. Try filling the gap with an active and healthy lifestyle. This will not only leave you fulfilled but healthier as well. 
  3. Stay relevant and connected. When you leave work behind you also leave much of your social network. Retirement can be an opportunity to re-establish old connections and create new ones.
  4. Keep mentally and physically active. You can do this by creating healthy routines.
  5. Express your spiritual beliefs. Not everyone is religious, so if you're not, you could work on improving your mindset by cultivating a gratitude practice. 
  6. Feel financially secure. If you’ve been listening to this show for a while, hopefully, you are well on your way to meet this goal. 

Create a plan to gain the most fulfillment from your retirement

Creating a retirement plan that addresses all 6 of these areas can help you create a greater sense of satisfaction with your life in retirement. You don’t want to get into the thick of retirement and discover that there is something missing from your life. Start a more holistic approach to retirement planning now so that you can create a meaningful life in retirement. 

Make sure to tune into the listener questions segment to hear about receiving Social Security while you are still working. You’ll learn just how important it is to know your full retirement age and how the Social Security Earnings test can help you keep the most from your benefit. 

Resources & People Mentioned

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Aug 9, 2021

Do you have a case of frugality syndrome? Many of us are so used to saving and living frugally that we have a hard time pivoting from the accumulation stage of retirement planning into the distribution stage. 

A recent retirement headline from Advisor Perspectives titled Overcoming the Frugality Syndrome caught my eye. This article discusses the difficulty that some retirees have in switching from saving to spending. I wanted to share this with you all since so many of you are diligent savers.

After the retirement headlines, we move on to our listener questions segment. Wendell is concerned about having all his eggs in one custodian’s basket and Stella would like to learn about rolling a 401K into a Vanguard target-date fund. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:22] What is frugality syndrome?
  • [4:18] 3 tips for overcoming frugality
  • [8:55] A question about target-date funds
  • [14:49] Should you consolidate accounts into one financial firm?

Can too much frugality be a bad thing?

Rick Kahler at Advisor Perspectives recently wrote an article about the problems that can arise from too much frugality. He uses one particular example to make his point: the FI/RE movement. FI/RE stands for financial independence/retire early and those that try to achieve this goal often do so by becoming exceedingly frugal. 

Many of you have been amazing savers over the years which is why you are on track to achieve your retirement goals. However, while your frugality can help you achieve your retirement goals, a long-term focus on constantly saving can make it hard to stop being thrifty and start spending. 

Over the long-term, frugality becomes a habit and thriftiness becomes ingrained in one's being. This mindset makes the act of switching to the distribution stage of retirement a challenge for many people. Rick offers 3 tips on shifting gears from accumulation to decumulation.

3 ways to shift gears from accumulation mode to distribution mode

  1. Recognize that frugality syndrome is normal. First, it is important to congratulate yourself on your financial achievement. Once you do so, then you can give yourself the grace and understanding that the transition from saving to spending will be a challenge. 
  2. Create a spending plan. A spending plan with set limits can help you overcome any anxiety that you may feel about overspending your carefully saved money. This will also help to ensure that your money will last and that you aren’t squandering away your financial future. 
  3. Get a financial checkup. Consider consulting a fiduciary financial planner a year or so before your target retirement date. You may also look into seeing a Certified Financial Therapist or Certified Financial Transitionist. These financial professionals can help prepare you for the mindset shift that comes with this monumental life change. 

Creating a retirement plan can help you spend confidently

Don’t think of frugality as a light switch that you can turn on and off. It will end up being a mindset that you have to ease out of. 

Early planning can help with the emotional aspects of shifting your financial mindset. Creating a thorough retirement plan can help you to spend confidently. I like to set retirement guardrails that help to safeguard a person from market risk. These set limits protect against sequence of return risk as well as helping with one’s financial mindset. 

Resources & People Mentioned

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Aug 2, 2021

How’s this for a headline? I’m 62, unemployed, living off my savings, and waiting on Social Security — ‘Can I go fishing for the next 25 years and forget about work? It naturally caught my eye since there was fishing in the title!

Today we’ll check out this MarketWatch article and answer the headline’s question as well as explore the additional recommendations the article mentions on ways to make retirement savings last.

In the listener questions segment, I’ll answer a complex question about borrowing against your home for a gift for a child. Once you’re done listening please head on over to our annual listener survey to make sure you voice your opinions on the trajectory of the show. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:22] Can I go fishing for the next 25 years?
  • [4:58] Financial advisors weigh in on this question
  • [14:20] Should I take out $150,000 of my IRA to help my family buy a house?
  • [19:35] Make your voice heard--go check out our listener survey!

Is it time to forget work and go fishing?

A recent Market Watch article caught my eye since it had fishing in the headline. The article opens with a question from a reader about his decision to quit his job early and go fishing for the rest of his life. The recent retiree did a great job saving for retirement and the MarketWatch author and I agree--he is absolutely ready to go fishing for the rest of his life.

I enjoyed reading this article since it included other experts’ responses, so I thought I would dig in and explore them a bit further and add my own 2 cents. 

The dangers of leaving ‘moldy money’ lying around

One commenter pointed out that the writer had a substantial amount of money in a savings account. He warned of the dangers of inflation by leaving that money in a low-yielding savings account. 

I agree with these concerns. Unless there is a specific reason, you need to be wary of leaving ‘moldy money’ lying around in low-yielding accounts. This money will end up losing purchasing power over time due to inflation. 

If you do have a substantial amount of money that isn’t invested consider converting a portion of that savings into a Roth IRA. Listen in to hear how I disagree with one advisor’s approach to investing for retirement. 

Why the bucket approach works

Another advisor suggested the bucket approach for asset allocation. This approach requires you to divide your assets into categories based on your withdrawal timeline. 

The super-conservative category is the first bucket you’ll dip into. The less conservative bucket has a longer time horizon, and the aggressive bucket won’t be touched for a long time. 

The bucket approach is a great idea and allows you to visualize your near-term assets and distinguish them from your longer, more volatile investments. 

Recognizing the difference between the boring short-term assets from the more exciting long-term assets will help you keep your sanity when the market starts misbehaving. 

To delay Social Security or not

The next area that the article discusses is Social Security. The letter writer plans to wait until full retirement age in order to receive 100% of his Social Security benefit, but there is the possibility of delaying even longer until the age of 70. 

Generally, my suggestion is to wait until age 70 to receive the maximum benefit, however, in this case, I don’t think it is as important. Listen in to hear why. 

 

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