How to Reset a Retirement Gone Wrong

Most Americans hit retirement and never look back. In fact, three-quarters of recently retired baby boomers say they are very satisfied with their lifestyle in retirement, according to an Ameriprise Financial survey of 1,000 Americans ages 60 to 73 who have at least $100,000 in investable assets. They are happy with both their finances and their free time.

But what about the 25 percent of baby boomers who aren’t satisfied with retirement? “The retirement industry has probably done a disservice to savers in marketing the image of an ideal retirement,” says Jeff Scott, vice president of corporate benefits and retirement at insurance and consulting firm NFP. Seniors may have been sold on the idea of retirement as one long vacation when the reality is quite different.

Fortunately, seniors who are dissatisfied can reset a retirement gone wrong.

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Figure out what needs to change. Before seniors can hit the reset button, they need to figure out where things went wrong with their current situation. Finance experts say limited savings can be one cause for unhappiness, but it isn’t the biggest problem they see. “What I have found with clients is that they are getting bored quickly,” says Bill Van Sant, senior vice president and managing director at Univest Wealth Management in Souderton, Pennsylvania. “They do everything on their bucket list in a year.”

Dan Yu, managing principal of EisnerAmper Wealth Advisors in New York City, says lack of purpose is a problem he sees with his clients who often held leadership positions in the workforce. “They are really sort of struggling with what to do next,” he says. Whether it’s a lack of money or a lack of purpose, understanding what is driving a senior’s dissatisfaction is critical to turning around an unhappy retirement.

Create a financial and life plan. A written financial plan and a list of lifestyle goals can help bring greater retirement satisfaction. Marcy Keckler, vice president of financial advice strategy for Ameriprise, says that when her company surveyed baby boomers, they found those with a written retirement plan were better off than those without one. “It’s never too late to get that written plan in place,” Keckler says.

People often struggle with moving out of the acquisition phase of savings. “Now they are drawing down their nest egg, and nothing is feeding it,” Van Sant says. “It kinda freaks them out.”

Meeting with a financial planner who can forecast how long money will…

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