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GUEST COLUMN: Preparing for Your Golden Years

By Wes Wood

Traveling, spending time with family, enjoying a hobby, volunteering – these are just some of the many things people say they hope to do during their “golden years.” But what if those golden years of retirement turn out not to be so golden?

For many, lack of thorough retirement planning causes several risks including potentially running out of money during retirement, having to work longer than expected, or simply having to scale back what they’ve dreamed about doing due to reduced income. Hindsight is always 20/20 but it’s never too late to start planning. What can you do to better plan for your golden years?

Understand your income needs

It’s important to understand exactly how much income you will need to maintain your lifestyle once you’ve retired. Too often, people have no idea how much money they will need or they underestimate their needs. When making your determination, consider factors like debt after retirement, travel expenses, giving desires, healthcare costs, inflation, etc.

Set clear goals and develop a plan

Once you understand how much income you will need, develop a specific plan for achieving your goal. How much should you be saving each month? How much debt should you work to eliminate prior to retirement? What average rate of return do you need on your investments to achieve your goal? Working with a financial professional can help to answer some of these questions and, more importantly, help to ensure you’re on track toward achieving your goals.

Reduce investment risk

During your working years, you’re accumulating wealth and seeking moderate to high returns. You’re more comfortable with risk because you have many more working years to recoup losses. But one thing that isn’t on your side as you approach retirement is time. The closer you are to retiring, the more risk you should consider taking off the table. A significant loss in your retirement portfolio could delay your retirement for years or prevent you from living the retirement lifestyle of your dreams.

Work with a financial professional who specializes in retirees

Odds are you really liked the pediatrician you had when growing up. When it was time to change doctors, you probably didn’t make the change because you didn’t like your doctor. You made the switch because your needs changed and it was time to work with a doctor with a different specialty. This may be a simple analogy but it holds true for financial professionals as well. As you approach retirement, consider consulting with a financial professional who specializes in working with retirees. These professionals are often more knowledgeable about investment options suitable for a conservative investor. In addition, a financial professional who works with retirees will have more knowledge about Social Security benefits, Medicare, long-term care concerns, tax savings strategies and many other things that become a part of a retiree’s overall plan.

These are just a few basic steps to consider implementing if you’re hoping to retire peacefully and make the most of your “golden years.”

Wes Wood, founding president of Wood Financial Group, LLC, provides comprehensive financial strategies including retirement planning and wealth management as well as tax savings strategies for individuals who are approaching retirement or already retired. For more information, call (615) 826-5749 or visit


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