Estate Planning

20 Things to Do Before You Retire in the 2020s

By Modern Wealth Management

March 4, 2021

20 Things to Do Before You Retire in the 2020s

Key Points – 20 Things to Do Before your Retire in the 2020s

It might feel like we’re a long ways away from 2030, but whether you’re busy as can be or loving life, time truly can fly. If you’re planning to retire this decade, it’s understandable to be excited about the possibility of stress-free times ahead. However, retirement isn’t always fun and games if you don’t properly plan for it.

With that, we thought it would be neat to launch our retirement-ready readers into the new year with a newfound sense of purpose and vigor. Here is a list of 20 things you need to do before you retire in the 2020s. If you plan to retire in the 2020s, fear not! This list will get you started and on the path toward a successful retirement for the remainder of this decade. Let’s jump in. 

20. Look Forward to the Longest Vacation You’ll Ever Take

Our fearless leader Dean Barber often says, “People will plan longer for a summer vacation than they will the longest vacation of their lives, their retirement.” 

Think about that for a second. The longest vacation you’ll ever take is retirement. It’s a great comparison. When you’re in school, it’s easy to think that the longest vacations you’ll ever have are each summer between school years. Those pale in comparison to retirement, though. 

If you put retirement in the framework of a vacation, planning for it might be slightly less daunting of a task. Let’s say that you’re still several years away from retirement and are planning a two-week vacation to Europe. It’s going to take a decent amount of time to plan for that vacation. 

However, let’s put planning that vacation to scale with retirement. Let’s say it takes 10 months (40 weeks) to plan a two-week vacation, and you want to prepare for a 30-year retirement. Using that same 20:1 metric, you should be planning for retirement for 600 years. That’s unrealistic, but it illustrates the point that we often overlook how much time we should be putting into planning for our retirement. 

On the bright side, the more you look forward to retirement, the more you’re thinking about it. And thinking about retirement is a great place to start. The most significant difference between a retirement and vacation is that you don’t have to plan out every single day of your life in retirement – but that doesn’t mean a plan isn’t necessary. Learn more about our Retirement Planning services. Onto the next thing to do before you retire in the 2020s.

19. Develop a Vision of Your Perfect Retirement

What do you want to do? Are there things you want to learn? Places you want to go? Knowing what you want to do in retirement seems easy, but when you try and put it all together and plan for all of those expenses, it can get pretty hairy pretty quickly. However, placing the bullet point or bucket list items all together in a list even can be a tremendous start. 

Other things to consider are large purchases or donations, such as paying for a grandchild’s college, when you’re going to need new cars, or purchasing a vacation home. Maybe you want to learn woodworking or start a scholarship at your alma mater – whatever you know you want to achieve in retirement, write it down. Knowing your goals and writing them down can help you focus on developing a successful retirement. 

Another reason for writing down all your goals for retirement is it can be an extremely helpful tool when you are discussing retirement with your financial planner or advisor. Financial planners aren’t mind readers. They can’t magically know that when you turn 70, you want to take an around-the-world cruise to celebrate, or that you want to buy your 16-year-old grandson his first car. However, if you have those goals ready to share with your financial planner before you retire, they can help you make those goals a reality.

While we’re on the subject of financial planners and financial advisors, our next thing to do before you retire in the 2020s is…


20 Things to Do Before You Retire in the 2020s

on America’s Wealth Management Show

Click Here to Read the Transcript

20 Things to Do Before You Retire in the 2020s

Links Mentioned in this Episode

Complimentary Consultation Download: Retirement Plan Checklist
Download: Social Security Decisions Guide Video: Tax Reduction Strategies Ed Slott Podcast: How to Avoid the Biggest Tax Traps Video: Claiming Your Social Security Social Security Podcast: How to Maximize Your Social Security

Dean Barber: Thanks so much for joining us here on America’s Wealth Management show. I’m your host Dean Barber, along with Bud Kasper. Hi Bud, here we are.

New Digs

Bud Kasper: Yeah, in the new studio.

Dean Barber: Well, newly…

Bud Kasper: Redesigned?

Dean Barber: Redesigned, remodeled?

Bud Kasper: Refurbished.

Dean Barber: Yeah, it’s awesome.

Well, if you want to check us out in the studio, all you got to do is stop by our office here in Lenexa, Modern Wealth Management. And you can see where we produce the show and get a chance to visit with us. 

When Your Money Works for You

So, Bud, we’re going to talk about something pretty exciting today and one of the favorite aspects of my entire 34-year career so far. And that is retiring, getting to the point where your money is now working for you. You worked all your life for your money. Now it’s time for your money to go to work for you so that you can do the things that you want to do.

I say it’s the favorite part of my job because it thrills me to watch somebody, starting five to 10 years before retirement, getting that plan put together, buttoning down and saying, “All right, we’re going to think through everything and create a vision of the future; of what life’s going to be like after you retire.” 

Then, the day comes, and you have the retirement party, and then you get to start living that new life. And it’s phenomenal if you’ve done it right. If you’ve thought through all the things that we’re going to go through today.

20 Things to Do Before You Retire in the 2020s

We’ve got a countdown list for you of 20 things to do before you retire in the 2020s. And actually, that’ll be a kind of a repeat because we did this in January of 2020. To me, the things we’re going to talk about are so fundamental, but there is so much detail behind it as well.

Bud Kasper: You’re absolutely right. One of the things that people can imagine, especially since we’re on the radio instead of television, is everyone has a camera. When you get that picture into focus, so you’re five years away from retirement. You see the picture a little bit, but you haven’t honed in on it. And every year, as you get closer and closer, you want to get that fine, perfect picture that tells you, “All right, I’m here. I’m ready. I’m at the start of my new life as a retiree.”

#20 – Look Forward to the Longest Vacation

Dean Barber: So number 20 on the list is, look forward to the longest vacation you’ll ever take. When we think about it in terms of the longest vacation we’re ever going to take, Bud, what pops into your mind? 

Many people, I would say my wife would be included in this, would spend more time planning a vacation than they do planning the longest vacation that they’re ever going to take, which is their retirement. It’s just like, “I don’t know what to do. This is one of those things that is almost impossible to envision. It’s intangible. So what’s my life going to look like?”

Don’t Go Down Without a Fight!

You know, I see it sometimes as a boxer. You’re swinging as hard as you can, you know the round’s about to end, and that will be the start of your vacation, your retirement. 

All you’ve done all your life is save, save, save. “Where am I going to be able to save additional money, to be able to have the retirement I want?” Finally, someone rings the bell, and the fights over, and now you’re looking forward and saying, “Finally, I get a reprieve here.”

#19 – Develop a Vision of Your Perfect Retirement

Dean Barber: Exactly. So here’s what you start with. You start with developing a vision. And the way that I like to talk about this, Bud, is I want you to imagine your ideal retirement. Here are a few questions:

  • What’s your vision of your perfect retirement? 
  • What would you do? 
  • Where would you go? 
  • Who would you spend time with? 
  • Are you going to make sure that you’re going to be able to take care of your grandkids’ college education? 
  • Do you have friends that you want to travel with? 
  • Do you want to have a second home someplace? 
  • If you have that second home someplace, how many years are you going to have that?

This is the hardest part, Bud, I think. But it’s one of those parts of what we do in our prioritization process. So we have a great method, using our Guided Retirement System™, of taking you through a lot of questions and a lot of soul-searching. 

Sometimes it’ll take an hour and a half or two hours to get that vision of what that ideal retirement is. Then we go, “Okay, is this vision possible? Could it be a reality?” Or are there going to have to be some trade-offs? So some things you may not be able to do, other things you can.

Redefinition in Retirement

Bud Kasper: Yeah. What ends up happening is people redefine themselves. Because they define themselves in the past by work, right? And now we’re going to say, “I don’t have to work anymore. So what good can I do for my family, for my community, for my church?” It’s a fun time because now you’re making the decision.

Dean Barber: Right, and it’s a time for you to focus on yourself. Because if you think about it, Bud, when we’re working, when we’re doing the things we’re doing, we’re doing it for someone else most of the time. 

So now this is the time where you get to step back and reflect on what you want. And our Guided Retirement System™ does a great job of crystallizing that and delivering the three things that we want. Clarity, confidence, and control so that you can live your one-best financial life.

Bud Kasper: That’s right.

Get Prepared for Retirement

Dean Barber: Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to get to pick up a copy of the Retirement Plan Checklist. Then schedule a complimentary consultation right here. The complimentary part is genuinely complimentary. We can do the meeting via phone call, virtual meeting, or we can do it in person.

And we don’t have financial products to sell. We are fiduciaries, which means that we’re bound to put your interests ahead of our own, and we only get paid if you decide to hire us, and we don’t earn commissions for anything. 

So it’s a true way for you to be able to get to know us. We get to know you, take a test drive through that Guided Retirement System™, and see if this will help you. 

All right. We’re going to get our money to work for us. It won’t necessarily talk, but that’s the idea. We’re talking about 20 Things to Do Before You Retire in the 2020s.

#18 – Find a Partner You Can Trust

We covered number 20 and number 19 in our opening segment, Bud. Let’s do now number 18. Find a partner you can trust. 

Bud Kasper: That is so critical.

The Financial Services Industry Over the Years

Dean Barber: All right. So let’s talk a little bit just about our industry, the financial services industry. And Bud, when you started and when I started, you have 37, 38 years.

Bud Kasper: 38.

Dean Barber: 38 years. I’m 34 years. And it was all about selling financial products.

Bud Kasper: Products. That’s right.

Dean Barber: Right? It was about selling the hot stock. It was about selling the hot mutual fund, but it was all about selling products. Our industry and the insurance industry have done a fantastic job creating some of the best salespeople in the entire world. 

Dean and Bud Navigating the Financial Services Landscape

So you and I both recognized very early on in our careers that there was something wrong with that approach because basically, it was all about the salesperson. “How much money can I make? What can I get this person to do?”

Neither one of us liked that approach. What we said was, “Well, this should be all about the client.”

Bud Kasper: Exactly.

It Should Be About the Client

Dean Barber: I should get paid a fee by the client, never charge a commission, and have a relationship that I continue to get paid if I’m doing the right things. And if I’m adding value, I’m getting paid. If I don’t add value, then nobody should be paying me.

Bud Kasper: Yeah.

Dean Barber: So that is the fiduciary approach. And to me, that’s the key thing. Find someone who is a fiduciary and, specifically, an Accredited Investment Fiduciary® where they’re bound by law or a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. We have a team of CFP® professionals here at Modern Wealth Management. Right?

Bud Kasper: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dean Barber: That CFP® Professional is also bound by the fiduciary duty. If you go that route, you’re going to, in most cases, find somebody who is not a product salesperson but is someone who is an actual planner and who can look at all aspects of your overall retirement plan.

Transitioning to the Fiduciary Standard

Bud Kasper: Oh, you’re so right. I remember so vividly in 1994; it’s when I took my personal practice at that time to being fee-based, no more commissions, and secondly, accepted a fiduciary standard. 

I can’t tell you how liberating it was. I will also tell you it was very costly because I couldn’t make as much money as doing all commission types of business.

Dean Barber: Right.

Bud Kasper: But it was the right thing to do. It put me on the same side of the table as my client and looking for solutions that would generate the best thing for them, not necessarily for me. 

The Industry is Still Behind 

Through that process, we’ve seen the industry much more attuned to that type of focus, although there are still tons of people out there that are still doing it for me, me, me, and not necessarily for the good of the client.

Dean Barber: Right. I would still say that that’s the majority.

Bud Kasper: Yeah. Probably, just based on numbers.

Dean Barber: Right. For sure. Well, I followed you about two years after that, in ’96, and then you and I joined forces and merged our two firms, back in the early 2000s.

Bud Kasper: Yep. The best thing we ever did.

Dean Barber: It’s been amazing. 

#17 – Start Planning Your Taxes for Retirement Now

Here’s another critical thing, number 17 on this checklist of 20 things to do before you retire in the 2020s. You need to start planning your taxes for retirement now. You need to do this before you retire, but you and I recognized that taxes were an integral part of the financial planning process.

Bud Kasper: Exactly.

Dean Barber: Yet in almost every firm out there, there’s a massive disconnect because people have their CPA separate from their certified financial planner. They have their estate planning attorney separate from their CFP® Professional. They have their insurance agent separate. 

You Need a Team

What we did was say? We said, “You know what, that doesn’t work.” When you’re a CFP® Professional, yes, you have to understand all these things, but it doesn’t make you a CPA, and it doesn’t make you an estate planning attorney, and it doesn’t make you a risk management expert. Right?

Bud Kasper: Right.

Dean Barber: So we decided we’re going to hire all those people, and we’re going to bring them in-house. So that when we’re working on somebody’s retirement plan, we do what we said, let’s paint that ideal vision of your perfect retirement. 

Then we get to go to work doing the plan. Once the initial plan is ready, we understand what you have, and we know what you want to have happen to your life. And we get that all laid out. 

The Tax Plan

Then we bring in our CPA. Okay? CPA then reviews. Okay, how do we minimize taxes for the rest of your life? Not in a given year, but how do we reduce taxes for the rest of your life?

That takes forward-looking tax planning. It requires reviews of that tax situation on an annual basis. That’s part of one of the reviews that we do is to make sure that we’re looking forward five, 10, 15 years on how do we reduce taxes? 

Tax Planning Education

There are many things that people miss, and they overpay their taxes because they’re missing opportunities. We have a great video called Tax Reduction Strategies. It’s on-demand.

Also, I did an interview on the SECURE Act with Ed Slott, America’s IRA expert. It’s Episode 31 on the Guided Retirement Show. So you can find the Guided Retirement Show on your favorite podcast app or YouTube. So those two things are excellent at actually helping you understand what that tax planning means.

Comprehensive Financial Planning Includes Tax Planning

Bud Kasper: Right. And what you just described there was why we use the word comprehensive financial planning, which means we’re taking into account all the ingredients, all the things that we need to understand as we approach retirement and go into retirement. 

The tax element of that is so significant because, as you said, most people are just filing their taxes. They’re not doing tax planning. By the way, the earlier we get started on this, the more money you’re going to save, put in your pocket, and have more money to work with your family.

Get Ahead of Your Taxes

Dean Barber: Yeah. It’s one of those places where you can make an incredible difference if you start five to 10 years before retirement. Even if you’re already retired, though, you can still impact your retirement with forward-looking tax planning. But starting before retirement does help.

Bud Kasper: Exactly right.

Paying Uncle Sam Less

Dean Barber: So here’s the next thing. Why are taxes important? Let’s back up just a second. Because you can only spend the net amount, right? You can only spend what you have left after you pay Uncle Sam. So if we can figure out how to pay Uncle Sam less, legally, that’s more money for you to spend.

Bud Kasper: Why would you not?

Dean Barber: Right.

Bud Kasper: It’s just so obvious.

Dean Barber: But it takes time to put the plan together, Bud, and I think that’s one of the reasons why people don’t, is just because they believe they are too busy. But again, we talked about how people spend more time planning an annual vacation than they do planning the longest vacation that they’re going to have in their entire life.

Bud Kasper: Well, too many people, and I’m quoting you now, take taxes as a matter of fact. Well, facts can change, and how you take them and make those facts work to your advantage can put dollars in your pocket.

#16 – Properly Claim Your Social Security

Dean Barber: All right. Number 16 on our list of 20 Things to Do Before You Retire in the 2020s is to properly claim your Social Security. Bud, I can’t tell you, we’ve got so many great things out there. 

Social Security Decisions Guide is a white paper we put together with a checklist and other resources. We also have a video on Claiming Your Social Security and Episode 34 of the Guided Retirement Show on how to maximize your Social Security benefits. So, we have a lot of information and details on Social Security. 

Bud Kasper: So many people say, “Well, whatever the age I am when I retire, that’s when I’m going to claim my Social Security.” Oh, no! You lost sight of perhaps a bigger prize. However, you have to understand how to get there.

Social Security and Tax Planning

Dean Barber: So those two things that we just talked about, taxes and Social Security, we have seen in so many cases where if you do those two things correctly, it can add $200,000 to $300,000 of additional spendable income over your retirement lifetime.

Bud Kasper: Yes, sir.

Dean Barber: That’s a huge amount of money.

Bud Kasper: You bet.

Dean Barber: Take a look at our Social Security Decisions Guide, the Tax Reduction Strategies webinar, Claiming Your Social Security video, on and on. While you’re browsing, schedule a complimentary consultation.

You can schedule your meeting right there. We can discuss with you by phone, virtual meeting, or we’re happy to meet in-person in either our Lenexa office, Lee’s Summit, or North Kansas City office.

Dean Barber: Bud, the next one we’re going to talk about is knowing where your retirement income will come from. We call this the bucket strategy, right? And this is all about asset allocation, asset location.

#15 – Know Where Your Retirement Income Is Going to Come From & #14 – Plan Your Withdrawals

Know where your retirement income is going to come from is number 15 on our list. Number 14 on our list is to plan your withdrawals.

So you think that it’s simple, right? You think, “Well, I’ve got $1 million, or $2 million, and I’m just going to follow the 4% rule. I’ll just take 4% of the value of my portfolio, and I’ll spend it.” 

Okay, that’s the wrong answer, right? 

Bud Kasper: Correct.

It Ties Back to Social Security 

Dean Barber: Believe it or not, how we figure out your right withdrawal strategy is a combination of a deep dive in Social Security. So, looking at your Social Security maximization strategies. And remember, you’ve heard us say this before, but I’ll repeat it.

The difference between the very best claiming strategy on Social Security and the worst claiming strategy is often $100,000 or more of additional income coming out of the same system over the same life expectancy.

Bud Kasper: On average, that’s true.

It Ties Back to Taxes Too 

Dean Barber: Once you’ve done that, now you bring in the CPA with a tax team to look at the tax ramifications of the withdrawal sourcing. So which accounts at which time, in what combination will allow me to get the maximum amount deposited to my checking account, whatever I want to spend every month, with the least amount of taxes possible. That’s the only way, Bud, that you can create a proper withdrawal strategy.

If you do those two things, you could reduce your tax liability through retirement by $200,000 to $300,000, and you could increase your Social Security take by another $80,000, $100,000, $120,000. 

You’re talking about significant differences, and what does that do? It takes the pressure off of what the underlying investments have to do for you to get the income you want, or it allows you to spend more money.

Sourcing Your Income

Bud Kasper: That’s right, and what you’re saying is taking this from a net perspective. A lot of people don’t understand. Taking money from the wrong source could very easily make you pay more taxes. 

So Social Security is an excellent example of that. People think that Social Security is a check that just comes out. Sorry, there are taxes that you may have to pay predicated on the other sources, such as your 401(k). Now your IRA distributions coming out of that are what? 100% taxable. “Oh, you have a Roth. Great! That’s nice to have.” 

All of these factors need to be in perspective. So we understand from a net perspective, why in the world would you not want to eliminate Uncle Sam legally when you have the opportunity to.

Required Minimum Distributions 

Dean Barber: Exactly right. Think about this. Required Minimum Distributions changed. Now, you don’t have to take a required minimum distribution until age 72. Even if you retire at 60, 62, 65, or whatever your date is, you need to plan for the future of those RMDs will be and how it will impact your taxes after. 

Bud Kasper: Yeah, planning.

Dean Barber: Right. 

It’s Complicated

Bud Kasper: It’s funny. It seems so simple. And yet, it’s complicated.

Dean Barber: Oh, it’s super complicated. And the thing is that there are no two people that are in the same situation.

Bud Kasper: Sure. You have a spouse that still has income. So, that comes into play. And you had an inheritance and a beneficiary IRA. You have to take distributions over ten years. When should you optimize that? Should you take it all at once? Should you take it in five years? Or should you spread it over ten years? I mean, the options are limitless.

Roth Conversions

Dean Barber: Right. Well, when you start thinking about those required minimum distributions, what you want to think about is, “After I retire, can I get money from my traditional IRA or traditional 401(k) over to a Roth IRA, Roth 401(k)? Can I do it at a lower tax rate where the money in the Roth grows tax-free forever and passes tax-free to the beneficiaries? Can I do that at a lower rate than what my tax burden will be once my required minimum distribution starts?”

If the answer to that is yes, through proper planning, Roth conversions are a very powerful method to reduce the long-term tax burden throughout retirement.

Understand Your Investments 

Bud Kasper: I have never done more Roth conversions in my entire career than we did last year. And really, it comes from the meetings, the face-to-face with clients, and understanding not just what investments are doing.  

Dean Barber: Well, it’s simple for you, Bud, because you’ve been doing it for 37, 38 years.

Bud Kasper: Yeah, but it’s the impact that the rest of this has. And once you understand this, then you’re going to say, “My gosh, I never really quite understood exactly how I was going to source my income. But now that I do and then I can do things from a planning perspective today that will impact my income next year, which means it’ll impact your next year and next year, next year.” 

This is money you’re putting back in your pocket that you arbitrarily would have been giving to Uncle Sam because you didn’t understand how to source your income properly.

It’s a Case By Case Situation 

Dean Barber: That’s right. We could do an entire show on how to source that income properly. But really, it comes down to being a personal deal because each couple or each individual, they’re different and the strategies for each is different, and the strategies change, Bud, based on tax law changes. 

So we’ve seen a plethora of tax law changes in the last 24 months. And with that has come adjustments to our distribution strategy, our arbitral strategies.

Tax Laws Change, CPAs Should Adapt

Bud Kasper: Yeah. We joke with the CPAs in our firm about the fact that they’ve got job security because Congress is always changing something from a taxing element. And of course, that is our job as planners to stay on top of that. So we see that not necessarily as a problem. We see it as an opportunity.

Dean Barber: Absolutely. Let’s talk a little bit, Bud, about number 13 on this list of the 20 Things to Do Before You Retire in the 2020s.

#13 – Understand Your Portfolio

So let’s talk about understanding your portfolio. You said, Bud, that’s easy, right? 

Bud Kasper: I did say that, didn’t I? 

Dean Barber: You did say that’s easy, and you and I both know that it is not easy. You and I both also know that the financial services industry places almost 100% of the emphasis on the portfolio and the investment. And we know that we can’t control what the markets do. We can’t control what interest rates do, and we can’t control Fed policy. You can get whipsawed around.

If you build the right portfolio, you can isolate yourself from some of that stuff. When you’re building your portfolio, the idea is to try to build a portfolio that will allow you to live that ideal retirement we talked about in the first segment and do it with the least amount of risk possible. 

Bud Kasper: There you go.

Investment Education

Dean Barber: We did a great couple of podcasts on that subject. They are episodes 12 and 13 of The Guided Retirement Show™. So I encourage you to get out to The Guided Retirement Show™ and check that out. It’s on your favorite podcast app and YouTube.

In those episodes, we dig into a lot of detail on understanding your portfolio. We talk a lot about the difference between mutual funds and ETFs and the pros and cons of both, but it helps you understand building a portfolio. 

The more educated you are, the better you’re going to be able to make financial decisions. That’s what we’re all about here on America’s Wealth Management Show. 

[Music Playing – Livin’ on a Prayer by Bon Jovi] 

Bud Kasper: Yeah. Do you know who’s singing that?

Dean Barber: Bon Jovi. 

Bud Kasper: Yeah. And you know what he is? 

Dean Barber: What?

Bud Kasper: 59 as of yesterday.  

Don’t Go Into Retirement Livin’ on a Prayer

Dean Barber: Well, Livin’ On A Prayer, that’s not what you want to do when you head into retirement. And we’re talking about the 20 things to do before you retire in the 2020s. But I’ve had this person in my office before, and I know you have, too.

Bud Kasper: Bon Jovi?

Dean Barber: No. The person who has underestimated what it’s going to take for them to have the lifestyle they want in retirement and isn’t willing to accept the truth. The last thing that you and I want to do or any of the certified financial planners in our organization, the last thing we want to do is tell somebody that it’s going to be okay and that you’ve got enough when you don’t.

Bud Kasper: Right.

Dean Barber: Right? And just one thing popped into my head as that song was playing. 

It’s Important to Set Expectations

I had a couple, and we went through things, and we were discovering what they had and what they wanted and everything else. 

I’m like, “I’ve been doing this a long time.” At that time, I think I’ve been doing this for 30 years. And I said, “I don’t have to put your data into our Guided Retirement System™ to tell you that you’re not there. You have a lot of work to do if you want the lifestyle you’ve laid out to me. It’s not going to happen with what you have. Now, if you’re willing to say you could live on a little bit less than what you talked about, we can talk about that.”

Bud Kasper: “We can make it work.”

Dean Barber: And they’re like, “No, that’s our lifestyle. That’s what we’re going to do.” And I’m like, “It’s not going to work for you.” 

Interestingly, Bud, I got a phone call from that individual, that couple, about two weeks later. They said, “Dean, we just want to call you and tell you. You were wrong because we found a financial advisor that told us we had plenty of money.” That’s what I call Livin’ On A Prayer because I have seen it happen.

Stay Realistic

Bud Kasper: Yeah. Well, too often, people want to hear what they want to hear instead of the facts. But you’re right, and as fiduciaries, we have an obligation to make sure people understand the facts associated with what they’re trying to accomplish. 

Whether or not they have the wherewithal, whether or not they’ve done the right things to get to that point where they can make that decision with confidence that they can retire. And that’s why people come to us.

Dean Barber: Right. And the problem was they came here, and they were planning on retiring in six months. They made the decision, “We’re retiring, and there’s so much we’re going to be able to spend.” 

I’m like, “No, you have another five years at least.” That’s why we encourage you, if you’re within 5 to 10 years of retirement, this is the time to plan. And you may have thought, “Well, someday, I’m going to talk to somebody. Someday, I’m going to get my act together. Someday.” Well, today is someday, right?

See the Whole Picture

Bud Kasper: Yeah. 

Dean Barber:  So schedule a complimentary consultation. If you’re ten years out or five years out, or even if you’re already retired, we can sit down and look at your overall picture and make sure that everything is buttoned up and we’re following these 20 things that you need to do to retire in the 2020s. 

Just click here to schedule a complimentary consultation. We can do it through a phone call, a virtual meeting, or in-person. 

Bud Kasper: You know what came to my mind when you said that? One of the firm’s partners, Bruce Godke, had made the statement about looking at retirement as a puzzle and asking the question, “What’s the most important part of the puzzle?” And the answer is- 

Dean Barber: It’s the box. It’s the picture.

Bud Kasper: It’s the box. It’s the picture.

Dean Barber: Right.

We Can’t Plan Without Vision 

Bud Kasper: That’s your frame of reference. So I think that’s an accurate way of addressing what retirement planning is, is we’ve got to put the picture together. We have to know how they fit in the proper places to accomplish what our clients would like us to do.

Dean Barber: Well, that’s why one of the first things you do to retire is you want to envision and get that vision clear to your financial planner. What does your ideal retirement look like? Then they can go to work and start to craft and make sure that you’re going to be able to do it.

There are Very Few Ideal Plans 

Bud Kasper: Yeah. Obviously, there’s a lot of data that needs to be collected to do a proper financial plan. And I bet I can count on at least one hand, maybe two, probably not, the number of times that people have come in to visit with me, who said, “I’ve got a financial plan.” “Do you have it with you?” “Yes, I have it with you.” 

And I go in there and look at it. All of a sudden, the wrong assumptions were in the plan, Dean. One of the biggest ones is inflation. So I always go to whatever the factor is. “What did you say inflation was going to be?” “1%.” “Are you serious?”

Dean Barber: Or two, yeah.

Bud Kasper: “Are you serious?” And therefore, I know that it’s a bogus plan.

#12 – Make Sure Your Properly Covered & #11 – Understand Medicare & Plan for Rising Health Care Costs

Dean Barber: Well, one of the biggest ones, which is number 12 and 11 on our 20 things to do before you retire in the 2020s, is ensuring you’re properly covered in inflation and health care costs

These two things go hand in hand because when we’re building a plan, we know that healthcare costs have been increasing at a far faster rate than what normal inflation is. So we want to apply a separate inflation rate to healthcare and understand what that does inside the overall plan. That’s a big deal.

Bud Kasper: Yeah. Which we’re using right now, 6.8%. That’s a heck of a lot more than the inflation rate for other items you have in your life.

Long-Term Care Considerations

I think considering a spouse having a long-term care stay is critical in this whole risk management process. If one spouse goes in and the other spouse still has their normal living expense outside of it, and you haven’t done planning for that, it can devastate the person still living or lives beyond the person that goes into the nursing home.

Bud Kasper: And the other part is debt. If you have debt and you’re taking it into retirement, and God forbid your spouse passes away, and now that debt is being handled by one person, the survivor in my example here, that can upset the plan. So we need to understand what we would do if that were to occur. 

Newly Single Tax Payer and Tax Brackets

Dean Barber: Right. And also, remember that if one spouse passes away, now all of a sudden, you’re a single taxpayer, so you hit those higher tax brackets at half the income, right?

Bud Kasper: Exactly.

Dean Barber: So you’re not going to live on half the income you were living on just because your spouse has passed away. But guess what’s going to go up? Your tax bill because it will be taxed at a higher rate at lower income levels. 

Social Security and Spousal Benefits

It would help if you considered that. You have to make sure also that you consider the fact that one of the Social Security checks is going to go away. 

Suppose one spouse has a pension and you haven’t done pension maximization strategies to maximize what that pension is that goes beyond the individual who has the pension’s lifetime. 

In that case, there could be a reduction in income there. So all these things when we say make sure you’re adequately covered, we stress-test the plan for all the potential risks that are out there.

Do You Have Your Bases Covered?

Bud Kasper: So as you’re listening to what Dean was talking about and all of these different factors associated with it, that should frighten you a little bit. 

It should make you concerned about whether or not you’ve covered all the bases necessary to assure yourself and assure your spouse that you’re prepared for retirement. Ensure that you have done the appropriate things at the appropriate time to exercise the best possible retirement we could create for you.

Keep Reading to Find the Remaining List Items

Dean Barber: So the 20 things to do before you retire in the 2020s. We got through ten of those here on the show. Keep reading the article below, and you’ll find the remaining items on the list.  

Bud Kasper: That’s pretty good for us.

Learn More About Retirement Planning

Dean Barber: Well, but the thing is, if you’ve been listening to the entire show, you have to start to understand how complicated this is. And when we established our firms and joined them together, Bud, we said, “We’re going to focus on making sure that we’re going to help people get to and through retirement,” right? 

That’s our focus. That’s what we do. And we’ve become just marinating in that type of situation. We’ve got all the subject matter experts, the CPAs, estate planning attorneys, the risk management experts, CFP® team members, all working collaboratively to help people live their one best financial life. Get that clarity, confidence, and control.

Bud Kasper: Absolutely. And it’s all available here on our website. There’s so much education there, Dean.

Dean Barber:  Check out the education while you’re here. Click complimentary consultation. You can schedule a quick phone call, a virtual meeting, or an in-person meeting. We appreciate you joining us here on America’s Wealth Management Show. I’m Dean Barber, along with Bud Kasper. We’ll be back with you next week. Same time, same place. Everybody stay healthy and stay safe.

18. Find a Partner You Can Trust

As with most service relationships, there is trust to be gained and bonds to be built. Doctors, lawyers, and even the kid down the road who mows your lawn are trusted to do their jobs in the best interest of their patient or client. These relationships are what the service industry is built upon. Trust is of the utmost importance in your health, personal, and financial wellbeing. 

The financial industry is a mess of actual financial planners and product salesman masquerading as financial advisors. For your average consumer, it can be hard to tell who is who. An excellent place to start is by looking for an AIF® or Accredited Investment Fiduciary®.  

At Modern Wealth Management, our financial planners are Accredited Investment Fiduciaries®. Your needs take precedence over our financial planners. They are required to put your interests ahead of their own. Our financial planners work directly with our team of in-house CPAs, estate attorneys, Medicare experts, insurance specialists, and a top-tier customer service team to address all your retirement needs. 

Our holistic approach is a full-service retirement planning system called The Guided Retirement System™. It’s designed to help guide you to and through a successful retirement. Finding a partner you can trust is not a task to take lightly. Fill out the form at the very bottom, or give us a call at (913) 393-1000 if you’d like to talk with no obligation. We will let you know if we can add value to your retirement plan or if you’ve got a solid plan already.

Many of you might have a CPA of your own, and that’s great, but it brings us to our next thing to do before you retire in the 2020s…

17. Start Planning Your Taxes for Retirement Now

A common misconception about taxes is that you’ll stay in the same tax bracket or even go to a lower tax bracket, but that’s often not true. Taxes in retirement are more complicated than while you’re in your earning years. Your retirement income is often located in different types of accounts, all which have different tax implications. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you need to understand how to utilize these accounts in a tax-efficient manner. 

Tax diversification and asset location are only part of the puzzle. Understanding how Social Security can affect your taxes is also an essential factor. You might say, “But Social Security is tax-free, right?!” Not always. There are considerations to analyze like required minimum distributions (RMDs), which we will discuss a bit later as well. 

Forward-looking tax planning is a strategy of saving money on taxes over the years rather than looking at each year in a vacuum. If you plan your strategy over the years instead of one year at a time, you’ll see net savings on your tax bill over those years. It might be a bit late for these strategies in 2019, but JoAnn Huber, Partner and CPA at Modern Wealth Management, wrote 2020 Year-End Tax Planning for Retirees. I suggest you read it to get a better understanding of the complexities of taxes in retirement. 

Learn More About Taxes in Retirement

If you want to learn more about how different types of accounts can affect your tax bill and other tax-related discussions, listen to episodes one and two of The Guided Retirement Show. In these episodes, Dean Barber and JoAnn Huber discuss traditional and Roth IRAs and 401(k)s. It’s a topic we’ve covered at length, and we encourage you to visit our Tax Education Center for more. Our next thing to do before you retire in 2020 is also a subject we’ve thoroughly examined…  

16. Properly Claim Your Social Security

This is a crucial part of a properly constructed retirement plan. Yes, there are wrong and right ways to claim your Social Security. And according to a recent study, nearly 96% of Americans are claiming their Social Security at a sub-optimal time, collectively leaving $3.4 trillion on the table. That’s $111,000 per household of lost retirement income due to claiming at the wrong time. Crazy. 

There have been some changes to Social Security in 2020 that you might want to catch up on, but if you have any questions on the subject, you can always get our Social Security Decisions Guide to get you started. Or, like I previously mentioned, we’ve extensively covered Social Security on this blog, visit our Social Security Education Center for more.

Social Security guides us perfectly to our next thing to do before you retire in the 2020s…

15. Know Where Your Retirement Income Will Come From

It seems obvious enough, but when you get to retirement, it’s important to know which accounts to draw from and when. Like we discussed earlier, there are tax implications to taking money out of different types of accounts. However, you also need to be aware of how Social Security will impact your income and taxes after you begin claiming it as well. 

You also want to be aware of having your assets in the proper types of accounts depending on what stage you’re at in the retirement process or how your plan is structured. You could be a strong candidate for a Roth conversion, and you don’t even know it. It’s also important to understand where your retirement income needs to come from to plan for things like RMDs and qualified charitable distributions (QCDs). 

You can learn more about retirement income in our America’s Wealth Management Show episode Where is My Income Going to Come from in retirement?

This leads us to our next thing to do before you retire in the 2020s…

14. Plan Your Withdrawals

This topic is obviously connected to knowing where your income is going to come from in retirement, but planning your withdrawals is essential in retirement, especially when you hit RMD age. The age for RMDs actually just recently changed with the passing of the SECURE Act and takes effect on January 1, 2020. Now, you don’t have to take RMDs until age 72, which seems like a win, right? Well, there are other details in the SECURE Act that make it not so pleasant from our perspective. Listen to our recent episode Presidential Elections & the SECURE Act for more information on the SECURE Act. 

Understanding when to withdrawal is just as important as knowing where to save. Which takes us to our next thing to do before you retire in the 2020s…

13. Understand Your Portfolio

Understanding why your investments are allocated the way they are is a highly important factor in a retirement plan. You need to know how your investments are allocated and how they are working for you in different market cycles. This allows you to understand your level of risk and protection in a market downturn, bear market, or recession. 

If your financial planner doesn’t illustrate and explain how and why your investments are allocated, this should be a red flag. You need to know the reasoning behind your investments and how those allocations align with your retirement goals. If not, you might be opening yourself up to undue risk. 

Speaking of risk, let’s talk about our next thing to do before you retire in the 2020s…

12. Make Sure You’re Properly Covered

Risk management, or as it’s more commonly referred to, insurance. No one buys insurance hoping they have to use it. You don’t buy a new car, get updated insurance, and go immediately wreck the vehicle. However, insurance is a primary piece of any solid retirement plan. You need to know if you are adequately insured on the property and casualty side, but also from a life insurance or long-term care perspective as well. There’s a point where you can be over-insured. Not only is it unnecessary, but it can also cause more damage than protection. Another consideration is for those who are retired and no longer on a company policy but are too young to enroll in Medicare. Knowing your options for coverage is vital. 

We encourage to check out Episode 60 of The Guided Retirement Show, where Dean is joined by Sarah Askren to discuss the Ins and Outs of Property & Casualty Insurance

Our next thing to do before you retire in the 2020s is…

11. Understand Medicare & Plan for Rising Health Care Costs

You don’t have to be on Medicare to know it’s complicated and messy to understand. Even just comprehending what the Medicare Annual Open Enrollment period is can be a task. Luckily, there are experts and resources like to help you out. We have Medicare expert Tom Allen on our team to help guide people through the process of enrollment, coverage options, costs, and more. 

Even if you’re not ready to enroll, chances are if you’re nearing retirement age, you have parents or family members who are Medicare age. With how complex it is, it can be comforting to have someone on your side when you’re learning about Medicare. For that reason, Dean Barber sat down with Tom Allen for two episodes of The Guided Retirement Show, to talk about Medicare and break it down into simpler parts. Listen to the two parts here: Part 1 & Part 2

Tom also joined us on Season 2 of The Guided Retirement Show to take a closer look at Medicare Supplement Plans

Even with Medicare, the cost of health care in the U.S. is continually rising. From prescription drug increases to higher-cost new procedures, health care costs are projected to rise by 5.5% year over year for the next decade. That’s according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). It’s essential to plan for the rise in these costs. Especially as we age, we become more and more susceptible to the need for medical care. Planning as best you can for these costs can save you enormous headaches when you retire. 

And on the topic of age, our next thing to do before you retire in the 2020s…

10. Plan Your Legacy

Planning your legacy for your loved ones is more for them than yourself. While we often tell our clients to enjoy their wealth now with their family rather than leave it all to them later, it’s important to know that what is left when you depart, and ensure it goes where you want it to go. Having a proper estate plan not only means knowing your estate is transferred to the appropriate parties, but it means a certain amount of peace-of-mind for your heirs. 

We aren’t talking financial peace-of-mind either; we’re talking about having the time to grieve and deal with their loss rather than being stuck in legal minutiae. Give your heirs the gift of focusing on what really matters when you’re gone, each other. Probate court is not a fun time and can be a long, arduous, and expensive experience that can be avoided with a proper estate plan. 

Understanding if you need a will or a trust is an important decision. Working with an estate planning attorney to discuss your options and put together a plan is also vital. Using online services like Legal Zoom can potentially lead to missed signatures or even inadequate plans. Our estate planning attorneys sat down with Dean Barber for a two episode series of The Guided Retirement Show™. Listen to those episodes here: Part 1 & Part 2. They discuss wills and probate as well as the pitfalls of going online for your estate plan.

Not only is it important to plan for your family, but it’s also important to plan with your family – this leads us to our next thing to do to retire in the 2020s…

9. Plan with Your Spouse

All too often are we told that one spouse or the other doesn’t want to deal with the finances, doesn’t understand them, or just plain doesn’t want to be involved at all. This is a serious problem when it comes to planning for your retirement if you’re married. After all, it’s your retirement together that you’re planning for, not just one or the other of you. You need to work on a plan for a dream retirement together, so you’re on the same page and know how you need your wealth to work for you. 

Another reason why it’s extremely vital that you plan with your spouse is that, barring a freak accident, one spouse is going to pass before another. Often, the husband passes before the wife. And knowing that 95% of women will be their family’s primary financial decision-maker at some point in their lives, it’s important that both spouses be involved because right now, only 10% of women feel financially secure. 

Planning together can help mitigate some of the fear of being alone with a financial mess after one spouse passes. If you both understand your plan and are working with a team you can trust, you can focus on your loss rather than your finances. And when you’re ready, you can know that you’re in hands that understand what your plans were together and can start to plan where you will go in the future. 

The idea that you plan together is important for so many reasons, but it’s also something to consider in our next thing to do before you retire in the 2020s…

8. Plan Your Living Situation

A common practice after retirement is to downsize the home or plan to do so in retirement. It’s a significant thing to plan for in the event you buy or rent a new home and incur new debt. What if you want to relocate to be with kids and grandkids? Plan for it! The better you plan, the more information you can provide to your financial planner, and they can build it into your retirement. 

Also, living situations can change multiple times in retirement. Like in the event mentioned previously, if you were to lose a spouse, maybe you’ll no longer need a full home to live in on your own. Or what if you or your spouse experience a life-changing medical event and need long-term care or live-in care? These are things you need to consider and have addressed in your retirement plan.

7. Pay Down Your Debt

Should I get out of debt before I retire? This is a very common question our financial planners get when they sit down with new people. What is the most tax-efficient order to invest and pay down debts? This order needs to be adjusted based on each person’s individual goals and risk tolerance, but paying off high-interest debt was one of the highest priority items. In fact, paying off moderate interest rate debt was still ahead of making a contribution to a taxable brokerage account. Interestingly enough, paying off low-interest-rate debt was not on the list at all.

6. Save Diligently and Track Your Progress

Save, save, save. I take it if you’re reading this and have made it to item 6 on a 20-item countdown, you’re taking retirement pretty seriously. So, it might go without saying that saving is important, but I’m going to say it anyway. Saving is important. 

You should always take advantage of any company matches on your 401(k). Diversify your savings vehicles for tax purposes once you’re in retirement. Talk to a trusted financial planner to help you make decisions on traditional versus Roth 401(k)s and IRAs and take advantage of your best option. 

Another key component in saving is, well, not overspending. Make sure you aren’t paying for unnecessary things like insurance coverage you don’t need. Chart your expenses and create a budget while you’re working to understand your spending better. This will help you determine your budget in retirement. 

It’s critical to have goals – not only for retirement but for savings. Track your progress toward your goals, this can help motivate you toward your next goal. It’s also crucial that you protect your savings. Don’t go spending your retirement savings if you can help it since there are fees and tax implications to taking retirement money early. While you need to protect your savings from your own bad decisions, you also need to do our next thing to do before you retire in the 2020s…

5. Protect Yourself from Predators

Predators are everywhere, and they hunt in all sorts of malicious ways. Some of their tactics can seem very real, while others are ridiculous. Nevertheless, when your money and sense of security are potentially at stake, taking time to assess the situation and ask all the necessary questions is the right thing to do.

Let’s go over an example that our Director of Marketing, Paul Manger, and his grandfather found themselves in a few years ago thanks to one of those predators. Paul’s 82-year-old grandfather called him in the middle of the workday in a panic. 

He said, very worried, “Paul! Are you okay?!”

Paul replied, “Yeah, are you?”

“Well, I just got a call from someone claiming to be a police officer who had you in custody and needed five $500 gift cards from Lowe’s to bail you out.” He says, “Thought it was fishy…you’re obviously not there, so I guess it was a scam.”

So, Paul replied, “Um, yeah, that’s crazy grandpa. You did the right thing calling me; always call any of us first if you get calls like that in the future. Glad everything is okay.” 

Paul’s grandpa did two things right here; he questioned the whole scenario, and called me to verify his inclinations. Go, gramps. This example was a very simple, unsophisticated approach to scamming. Sadly, it’s probably successful at times since they continue trying scams like this. Scams can get so much more involved, complex, and harder to spot. Learn more about scams targeting seniors by listening to Dean Barber and Brie Williams on The Guided Retirement Show. They discuss the Top 10 Financial Scams Targeting Seniors, listen here. According to Brie, over $3 billion is reported as lost to scammers, fraud, and financial abuse each year, but the actual number is likely much, much higher.

Cyber Security is HUGE

A more sophisticated approach to scamming compared to my grandfather’s caller comes online in the form of cyber scamming. From email phishing scams to hacking webcams to capture potential blackmail footage, cybersecurity has never been a bigger issue. To address this ever-growing problem, we hosted a Steps to Reduce Your Cyber Security Risks workshop and webinar presented by financial planner Wayne Robinson.

While cybersecurity is definitely a massive issue you will be hearing more from us on, we also want to address another internet-related thing to do before you retire in the 2020s…

4. Cut Through the NOISE

It’s been a topic of interest for us as of late to talk about how so many current events, namely Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has been affecting the stock market. In the February 2022 Monthly Economic Update, Dean and Logan DeGreave addressed the importance of staying calm during economic uncertainty, especially because of how conflicting economic news can be with coming from multiple sources. It’s even confusing following news from the same source at times. So, what should we believe? 

It’s important to do research on your own and review multiple sources to give yourself a wider view outside of news media echo chambers. A couple of years ago, Shane Barber did a great job bringing together research from multiple sources to deliver a well-thought-out article on Presidential Elections and the Stock Market to see if there was a correlation between the two. Give it a read to find out, but the moral of the story is following market fundamentals based on what’s important to you, and your plan will outweigh most news-based market fluctuations. 

Emotions are high and only getting higher as we move along in the 2020s. Don’t capitulate based on your emotions, understand your plan, and talk to your financial planner. Make adjustments together that make sense to your overall goal and aren’t just knee-jerk reactions to market scenarios. 

While it’s key to cut through the noisy news media, it’s also imperative you do the next thing before you retire in the 2020s…

3. Pay Attention: Understand the Rules, Follow Changes, Stay Tuned-In

Yes, we just told you to cut through the noise. However, you still need to pay attention. Again, doing your own research is essential, as is finding resources you can trust. Like we mentioned earlier, the SECURE Act is a great example of why it’s important to stay tuned-in. Listen to our episode of America’s Wealth Management Show Presidential Elections & the SECURE Act to learn more about the SECURE Act. 

Our team stays on top of trends in the market, government, and technology to make sure we don’t miss a beat when it comes to planning people’s retirement. As I’ve previously mentioned, we have our radio show America’s Wealth Management Show, our podcast The Guided Retirement Show™, the Education Center, educational workshops and webinarsMonthly Economic Updates with Dean Barber on our YouTube channel, and much more. Our financial planners are also available to talk with you on the phone, in person, or via virtual meeting to address any questions you have with no-obligation. Just fill out the form at the bottom or give us a call at (913) 393-1000. 

Educating yourself before retirement is paramount. However, it might not be enough to prepare you for our next thing to do before you retire in the 2020s…

2. Prepare for a Change in Lifestyle

Before you fully retire, it’s important to prepare yourself for a completely new journey. You may think you’ll easily fill your time with new or old hobbies, travel, family, and friends, but things might be very different when retirement finally arrives. Just make sure you understand the shift in lifestyles and give yourself the opportunity to adjust mentally. 

Retirement is what you’ve been working for your entire life; don’t let it slip away to boredom and loneliness. Find ways to keep yourself busy in retirement. We know it can be hard to find activities to do with peers in retirement, and that’s why we’ve created our BFG Travel Club and BFG Art Tasting Club. Juls Cook Tramposh hosts cruises and events like museum tours on a regular basis for our BFG Community. Each patron pays their own way, but it gives them an opportunity to share an experience with peers and make new friends. If you’re interested in learning about these events, email us at [email protected] with the subject line Add Me to the BFG Art Tasting & Travel Club Emails. We’d love for you to join the BFG Community. 

This brings us to our final thing to do before you retire in the 2020s…

1. Plan, Plan, PLAN

An obvious one, but it all starts with deciding to put the plan together, bringing all the other 19 points into a beautiful living, breathing ideal of what you consider your perfect retirement. Using The Guided Retirement System, we can build you a plan covering the factors we’ve covered today in this article. 

As we move onward in the 2020s, it’s time to get into gear and put your plans to retire in motion. Start with looking forward to the longest vacation you’ll ever take, put the plan together, execute the plan, and in the end, enjoy the retirement you planned. 

We want you to retire and create memories that last with your family, create a lasting legacy, and, most of all, live your one best financial life. If you’re ready to get on the right track to retirement, reach out to us by scheduling a complimentary consultation below or giving us a call at (913) 393-1000. We’re excited to help you live a rich life. 

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The views expressed represent the opinion of Modern Wealth Management an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Information provided is for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute investment, tax, or legal advice. Modern Wealth Management does not accept any liability for the use of the information discussed. Consult with a qualified financial, legal, or tax professional prior to taking any action.