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Are you prepared for 8,000 days of retirement?

Are you prepared for 8,000 days of retirement?

My financial journals are always packed with the most recent tax law changes, innovative financial strategies and, of course, new planning ideas and suggestions. 

I recently came across a study that I actually found quite refreshing. Conducted by Hartford Funds, the study segmented life into four 8,000-day phases. The first 8,000 days of life are considered the Learning Phase, which begins at birth and lasts through the college years.

Growing, the second 8,000-day phase, includes launching your career, becoming a homeowner, getting married and having children. The prime of your career dominates Maturing, the third phase. These 8,000 days may consist of a larger home, better vacations and perhaps even grandchildren.

I’m most interested in the fourth and final phase, which Hartford calls Exploring. The reason for my interest is that most of us refer to that segment by another name. Retirement.

I’ve often pointed out that retirement can last a third of your life. Hartford’s 8,000-day Exploring Phase scenario somewhat validates my observation that many retirees still have a long way to go. And as an advisor, one of my major objectives is making certain that your retirement income lasts as long as you do.

People often envision retirement as life without an alarm clock, with lots of travel, plenty of golf and other leisurely activities. That may be the case, but my job is to bring focus to the financial aspect of those last 8,000 days. Hartford has helped by breaking the Exploring Phase down into four additional phases.

First is the Honeymoon Phase, with the aforementioned fun activities. Then comes the Big Decision Phase, during which you ponder where you want to live and if you should downsize. It’s often a period of simplification, when a great number of financial decisions need to be made.

The third phase is Navigating Longevity, a time when managing your health can begin to become a full time job. I see this situation quite often as clients schedule visits to my office on the same day as one of their many doctor appointments. They may be battling health issues and on several medications, but many are still sharp enough to get out and about and manage their finances. 

Some, unfortunately, are beginning to struggle. This tends to be the time when I often see family members get more involved. They assist in making financial decisions, and help out with household chores and neighborhood errands. They also have to deal with sensitive issues like having that discussion with mom and dad about whether or not they should continue to drive.

Many clients have told me they don’t want to be a burden to their children. This is often a key issue in the Solo Phase, the final part of Exploring. It may include home health care assistance, or moving into assisted living or memory care. But it’s almost certain that some kind of care will be involved.

A lot can happen in the last 8,000 days. The four phases of

Exploring aren’t cut and dried. There’s no rigid formula, as the paths from one segment into another can easily overlap. Overall, I think looking at

Exploring as an 8,000-day life segment can be a helpful way of putting into focus a blurry time period we used to call retirement.