Mea Culpa!

Think retirement is boring? Think again. Here's what I learned after spending one week in Florida (and how it may impact my advice going forward).

Mea Culpa is Latin for “through my fault,” or in more common lexicon, “I am sorry.”  Let this story be my Mea Culpa to you, our clients.

Since I entered the wonderful and rewarding world of financial planning, I have made it my purpose to help clients prepare financially for retirement. Our approach includes discussing financial goals and addressing financial questions, such as:

  • Do I have enough for retirement?
  • What will my income be in retirement?
  • How do I determine what my expenses will be in retirement?

We also discuss topics such as:

  • Where you will live: Should you purchase a second home or relocate outside New Jersey in retirement?
  • Hobbies: Will you travel more or pursue a new (possibly expensive) hobby?
  • Charitable giving: Do you wish to implement gifting strategies to family members or charities?
  • Investment and cash flow: Should your asset allocation become more conservative as you approach retirement, and how can you fund retirement tax-efficiently?

Those of you approaching retirement or already in retirement probably remember these discussions fondly. I know I do.

One of the things that sets EKS Associates apart from the pack is the “life planning” component of what we do. We have in-depth discussions on how to prepare mentally and emotionally for retirement by challenging you to answer tough questions like, “How do you define retirement?” and “What does retirement look like for you?”

Part of this process is talking through the famous three questions of Life Planning to help narrow down what is truly important to you.

  1. Imagine you are financially secure and have enough money to take care of your needs now and in the future. How would you live your life? Would you change anything? Let yourself go. Don’t hold back on your dreams. Describe a life that is complete and richly yours.
  2. Now imagine that you visit your doctor, who tells you that you have only 5-10 years to live. You won’t ever feel sick, but you will have no notice of the moment of your death. What will you do in the time you have remaining? Will you change your life, and how will you do it? (Note that this question does not assume unlimited funds.)
  3. Finally, imagine that your doctor shocks you with the news that you only have 24 hours to live. Notice what feelings arise as you confront your very real mortality. Ask yourself: What did you miss? Who did you not get to be? What did you not get to do?

We also discuss retiring to something and not from something.

This approach and thought process have led to many wonderful conversations that we hope shaped our clients’ retirement pictures.

Earlier, I used the word “rewarding.” We end every new client meeting by saying, “Welcome to the EKS family.” Being part of your lives is a gift that we appreciate. So before my mea culpa, please let me share a heartfelt thank you to our clients for letting us be part of your lives.

Now, on to the apology and a flashback to November 2023.

It is the week of the teacher’s convention in New Jersey, known in Florida as ‘New Jersey Week.’ Like most New Jersey families whose children were out of school, I spent the week in Florida—Naples, more specifically, where I visited my parents. Retired snowbirds, they were in Florida in November because my mother was running a golf tournament in March and had a planning meeting.

We arrived late on Sunday night. This was my chance to discover what retirement life was really like—a week of sleeping in and relaxing in the sun.

And then it began. Bright and early on Monday morning, I awoke to my mother and son telling me tennis started at 9 am, and I needed to be ready. After 90 minutes of tennis in 80-degree heat, I headed back to the house for what I thought would be a nice dip in the pool, followed by a good book in the lanai.

WRONG. My mom had gotten us a 1 o’clock tee time. So maybe after 18 holes of golf, I would have a quick swim and a cocktail before settling down to my book.

WRONG again. We had dinner reservations at a place my parents go to every Monday night to listen to music. We met all their friends and got home by 10 pm. I was too tired to swim and passed out watching NCIS with my family.

Exhausted from day 1, I figured a nice relaxing Tuesday was in order. Nope – tennis was scheduled from 9 am-1 pm with the men of the tennis club, followed by my 17-year-old son wanting to hit for an hour with me, my wife, and my mother. After a hard-earned swim and shower, I was off to lunch and a walk around downtown Naples. And if you think a relaxing Tuesday night was in store – WRONG. We met my parents’ friends for what else – music. Wednesday was a walk with my father, wife, and daughter, followed by golf with my son and parents. Rinse and repeat until we came home Saturday night. Sunday – I watched football on the couch and did not move, trying to recover from my week in retirement.

So, my apologies to all of you, my clients, for spending so much time and energy on whether you were financially or mentally prepared for retirement. I should have spent more time making sure you were physically prepared for retirement. It is truly an exhausting experience. And if you think my parents did all this just because I was visiting, WRONG. This is her daily activity – tennis in the morning, golf in the afternoon or a long walk, followed by a late afternoon dip in the pool and then dinner, drinks, and music together.

P.S. – I wrote this on day one of my 2024 spring break trip to Naples – right before a day of tennis, golf, and music.

You May Also Like

Should You Carry a Mortgage into Retirement?

Should You Carry a Mortgage into Retirement?

As many of us approach retirement, one of the key financial questions homeowners face is: should you pay off your mortgage before crossing into this exciting new phase of life? There’s no easy answer. You must consider many variables, weighing both financial and psychological factors.