Time Is Your Scarcest Resource in Retirement

By Chris Duderstadt

May 4, 2023

Time Is Your Scarcest Resource in Retirement

Key Points – Time Is Your Scarcest Resource in Retirement

  • Spending Time Doing the Things That You Love
  • The Fear of Running Out of Money
  • Planning for Retirement Helps to Highlight How Precious Time Is
  • Why Time Is Your Scarcest Resource in Retirement
  • 12 Minutes to Read | 23 Minutes to Listen

Why Is Time Your Scarcest Resource in Retirement?

Time is always precious, but it becomes even more precious in retirement. Whether it’s spending time with loved ones, time doing the things you love, or time free from financial worries, it’s easiest to see that time is your scarcest resource in retirement.

At Modern Wealth Management, our mission is to give you confidence in doing the right things with your money, freedom from financial stress, and time to spend doing the things you love. The importance of cherishing your time in retirement isn’t lost on us one bit. Dean Barber and Bud Kasper are going to further explain why time is your scarcest resource in retirement on America’s Wealth Management Show.

Dean and Bud Have Countless Examples of Why Time Is Your Scarcest Resource in Retirement

When you put Bud and Dean’s careers together, they have about 77 years of experience in the financial services industry. That’s a lot of time. So, when reflecting on their long careers, how could one of their main conclusions be that time is scarce? Their 77 years of combined experience has included many, many stories watching people get to and through retirement. They’ve seen several people do it right by living long, healthy, and happy retirements. And they’ve seen several instances of people who have had retirement go terribly wrong with not being as fortunate in retirement.

When we say, ‘go right’ or ‘terribly wrong,’ that’s not necessarily from a financial perspective. When you think about time in your life to do, you’re only going to be 65 once. You’re going to have limited chances to spend time with your grandchildren before they’re grown up. You’re going to have limited time to where you’re healthy and active enough in retirement to travel the world. Time is such a scarce resource in retirement.

“We have seen people get so focused on the money part that they miss the part of life where the real reward comes from.” – Dean Barber

The Journey to Financial Freedom and Freedom to Do the Things You Want to Do

Freedom and time are things that we’re constantly chasing for much of our lives. You think you get a taste of freedom to do the things you want to do when you move out of your parents’ house and go off to college. But then you spend so much of your time studying and might need to support yourself with a part-time (or maybe even a full-time job). You start to get the same sense once you’re about to graduate, but then you’re starting your first real job, trying to find a place of your own, etc.

That’s why Dean refers to retirement as achieving financial independence. You’ve finally attained the confidence to do the right things with your money, freedom from financial stress, and now have time to spend doing the things you love. So, how are you going to make the most of that time sense it is such a scarce resource?

“Innately, people know that they’ve wanted that feeling sense they’ve started working. It’s that one day of freedom that suddenly launches you into the last part of your life. Money can do funny things to people. The fact the things change, goals change, and account values change causes consternation for retirees. That’s why it’s so necessary to build a comprehensive financial plan where you can review it any time to see what it’s telling you whether the market is up 20% or down 20%. It conforms what you need to enjoy your retirement.” – Bud Kasper

Stories That Illustrate Why Time Is Your Scarcest Resource in Retirement

It’s one thing for Dean and Bud to realize that time is your scarcest resource in retirement, but their goal is for you to understand that as well. Some people can struggle with having the confidence that they’re doing the right things with their money. Not having that confidence can cut into the time to do those things that you want to do. Confidence, freedom, and time are all correlated to one another when it comes to planning your retirement.

What Are the Things That Are Most Important to You?

The message of time being your scarcest resource in retirement really hit home for Dean as he was meeting with a client and her three daughters shortly after her husband passed away. They wanted to make sure that she could still live the lifestyle she desired in retirement without making any significant changes to her plan or needed to go back to work. The first thing Dean needed to know was what she wanted the rest of her life to look like and see if/how the things that had been important to her had changed. The most important thing to her was spending time with her kids and her grandkids.

After learning that, Dean wanted to know what she thought would be an ideal way to bring her family together so she could spend time with them. Her grandkids were in their 20s and 30s, so they weren’t living with their parents anymore. She decided that she wanted to pay for her, her kids, and grandkids to go on a ski trip vacation to Colorado. She knew she would need to rent a big place for them to stay so there was a lot of research and planning that went into that trip.

Stress Testing Your Financial Plan

Once the details of the trip were planned, she put it into her financial plan to see if it would impact her probability of success. It didn’t move the needle much because her and her late husband had done a very good job of saving. So, they booked the trip and were all good to go. However, due to the poor market conditions we experienced throughout 2022, she began having second thoughts about her ability to pay for the trip.

“She called me in October and asked me if she needed to cancel the trip. I said no. We ran it through the plan and did the necessary stress testing. When we run it through the plan, we’re taking into consideration that a bear market or poor market performance could occur at any point. Her plan was fine, so I said to take the vacation.” – Dean Barber

If she didn’t have the clarity from her financial plan, she likely would’ve canceled it. That was going to be very precious time with her loved ones that she missed out on. She shared with Dean that the trip was amazing and sent him photos to prove it. That’s just one example of why time is your scarcest resource in retirement. We have a few other examples that we’ll share as well.

“A lot of people think that everything is all about the money or investment strategy when working with a financial advisor. That is a component of what a good financial advisor will do, but a good advisor that works more in the capacity will help people live the way that they want to live and do so with the freedom of knowing that there’s no financial worry there.” – Dean Barber

An Example from Bud to Highlight Why Time Is Your Scarcest Resource in Retirement

Obviously, the older we get, the less time were going to have to do the things that we love. We’re all hopeful that we can live long and healthy lives to get as much quality time as possible to do those things. Unfortunately, tragedy can strike at any moment and take that precious time away. Bud recently saw an example of that with one of his clients.

The client couple had downsized into a smaller home and was very excited about it. But right after they did that, one of the spouses was diagnosed with cancer. They don’t know what the outcome will be yet, but that can be a game changer that changes your goals for retirement.

“From a survivorship perspective, the concern isn’t as much about what they’re going to need in the next few months. It’s if the outcome is bad, will the other spouse be able to continue their desired lifestyle as a surviving spouse? People don’t want to think about that because they want to think that their spouse is going to live forever.” – Bud Kasper

Becoming a surviving spouse means that becoming a single tax filer. That’s a big change in your tax status. And what’s going to happen with Social Security? The surviving spouse will get the greater of the two benefits. But once all those changes are considered, can the surviving spouse still live that desired lifestyle in retirement? Working with a CFP® Professional to build and review your plan is critical to getting that clarity.

Defining Financial Independence

Before we share a few more stories about why time is your scarcest resource in retirement, we want to talk a little bit more about financial independence. When you’ve achieved financial independence, you can do the things that you want to do every day because they’re important to you. There are some people who reach financial independence but are still working because they truly enjoy their job. However, there are a lot of people who are financially independent, but don’t realize it.

“There are so many people who go into retirement and don’t do the things that they really want to do because they don’t have the confidence that they can spend in that manner. So, they live below their means. They forego things. My favorite thing to do when I’m building a financial plan is to cover all the necessities first. What are the necessary expenses for you to live the way that you want to live with nothing extra? That’s your baseline. Then, what are the extra things? What are the things that you really want to do? That could include traveling, gifting to kids and grandkids, new vehicles, a second home, etc. Those are your wishes and wants. Build your plan and plug all those wishes and wants in there and see what happens.” – Dean Barber

If you’re not exactly sure of where you’re at on your journey to financial independence, we have a resource that can give your some clarity on that. With our Retirement Plan Checklist, you can gauge your retirement readiness by going through 30 yes-or-no questions and reviewing an important age-based timeline and date-based timeline with things to consider with retirement planning. Download your copy below!

Time Resource

Download: Retirement Plan Checklist

Front-Loading Your Spending in Retirement

There could end up being some tradeoffs involved to live out those wishes and wants, but you won’t know you can do them and know whether your probability of success will change without a financial plan. Dean has a conversation about time with most people that plan to retire in their early to mid 60s.

“If you’re 65, you probably have 15 years where you’re really going to feel like traveling and spending on all the things you want to do in retirement. I’ve witnessed a lot of people get into their early 80s or even late 70s and just slow down. They don’t have the energy or desire to do the things they wanted to do in their mid 60s. So, let’s front-load the spending in your retirement. What does that look like? Ramp up your spending in the early years of retirement while you have your health and then you can back down to your necessary expenses in your 80s and 90s.” – Dean Barber

We understand being concerned about the possibility of outlasting your money in retirement. It’s a valid concern, but you validate it by having a financial plan.

The Impact of a Long-Term Care Stay

Bud also has a story about the importance of time that involves a client whose has husband unfortunately passed away. The wife is now unfortunately starting to have issues with dementia. She ended up going into a long-term care facility to get her the care that she needs. She and her husband and saved up quite a bit of money. So, the cost to get into that facility wasn’t a problem. However, she wanted most of her wealth to be passed on to her children.

Her children then met with Bud because she wanted to know if they should be gifting away to get on Medicaid so they could pay for the long-term care stay. Leaving a legacy was very important to her. So, Bud got a hold of an attorney and talked through that process with them.

“We’re working toward what she wants to do, but there is a five-year lookback rule with Medicaid that she and her children were unaware of. While it’s a sad story with her dementia, it’s an example of a manageable story because she’s looking to the next generation in terms of where the distributions will go.” – Bud Kasper

What Do People Usually Regret Late in Life?

Most people who are planning for retirement or in retirement probably know some who is receiving long-term care or has recently received long-term care. But oftentimes, people tend to ignore the reality that something like that could happen to them.

“Talk to someone who is late in life and ask them their regrets. Nobody is ever to say that they regret not saving more money or leaving a bigger legacy. The regret is going to be that they didn’t get to spend as much time with their kids or grandkids. Or that they put off a trip or something else that they wanted to do but didn’t do because they didn’t have the confidence that they could do it from a financial perspective. Those are their biggest regrets because they never took the time to build a financial plan or didn’t understand how it could help give them permission to do those things.” – Dean Barber

For Dean, Bud, and our other CFP® Professionals, it’s their job to be as experienced as they can to handle each person’s situation delicately but with confidence to still arrive at an agreeable outcome.

A Flashback Story About Time Being the Scarcest Resource in Retirement

The stories that Bud and Dean have shared so far have all been from the past couple of years, but Dean was one from 1998 that he wants to share. At the time, the wife of the couple that Dean was working with had already retired while the husband was still working. It was the husband’s intent to retire at 70.

“Their dream was to do the Great Loop. You go through the Great Lakes, down the Mississippi River, into the Gulf of Mexico, and loop back around through the Atlantic. It’s a six-month trip and it’s supposed to be amazing. As they were planning for retirement, they bought the boat and eventually planned the trip. But three months before the husband was set to retire, he died from a heart attack. So, they never got to do the trip. I had been telling them for five years that they were financially there and that he didn’t need to keep working. They could’ve gone on the trip at that point, but they wanted to have a little bit more saved. They gave up time and exchanged it for a little bit more money. The widow said that she wished she would’ve listened to me.” – Dean Barber

An Art and Science to Financial Planning

That was 25 years ago, but Dean still remembers it because it made him realize that his most important role as a financial advisor was to understand what’s important to his clients and help them realize that. He wanted to help people understand that money is important and allows you to do the things you want to do, but should never be the most important thing in their financial plan.

“I always say that there’s an art and a science to financial planning. The science is the numbers, laws, and technical analysis of how the money should be invested. It’s the application of proper tax planning. That’s the science part of financial planning. The art of financial planning is understanding what a person wants to have happen in their life and shaping their plan in such a way to where they get to live a rich life from a personal perspective, not a dollar perspective. You can live a rich life from a personal perspective without being lavish or overspending.” – Dean Barber

We don’t want you to think that you should spend, spend, spend. We just want to define what the spending patterns are going to be. They’re going to vary from year to year.

Don’t Overthink It

It can be very easy to make emotional decisions related to retirement, but not the way to go about it. Your financial plan is designed to give you that confidence, freedom, and time in retirement that we’ve talked about.

“When you’re working, you know exactly what’s happening. You know what your paycheck is going to be, how much is going into your 401(k), how much is being withheld for taxes, what your health insurance costs are, and how much you can safely spend. It’s all crystal clear. Then, you get to retirement. Unless you’re fortunate enough to have a big pension that’s replacing your income, and your Social Security so that you have all these fixed sources of income, it’s cloudy. You have money that you’ve worked hard for and have saved. It’s time to ask that money to go to work for you. Again, confidence, freedom, and time is what you’re looking for.” – Dean Barber

One More Quick Story

As we wrap up discussing why time is your scarcest resource in retirement, Dean has one more story. It’s another one from early on in his career when Dean and his wife went down to his client’s lake house.

“I was fishing and my wife was talking to the wife of the client couple. She told me on the way home that I got the biggest compliment ever. My client told her that they really feel confident that they can do everything they want to do and don’t worry about it anymore from a financial perspective. That was the biggest compliment that I can get. I’ve taken that and want to repeat that. That’s what we’re all about at Modern Wealth Management is helping people gain confidence, freedom, and time.” – Dean Barber

Working with a CFP® Professional

The most important takeaway from this article about how time is your scarcest resource in retirement is that it’s important to work with a CFP® Professional who understands the art and science of financial planning. If you want to determine how to make the most of your time as you’re planning to get to and through retirement, you can schedule a meeting with one of our CFP® Professional to see what that process will look like for you. We can meet with you for a 20-minute “ask anything” session or a complimentary consultation, which can be in person, virtual, or over the phone.

We’re also giving you the opportunity to begin building your financial plan with our industry-leading financial planning tool. You can access it at no cost or obligation from the comfort of your own home. Just click the “Start Planning” button below to begin building your plan today.

Time Resource


If you have any questions as you’re building your plan, just let us know. We hope that this article has shown you how important a financial plan is to giving you the time to do the things that you want to do in retirement.

Time Is Your Scarcest Resource in Retirement | Watch Guide

Introduction: 00:00
A Story About Financial Planning and Time: 03:08
Time’s Scarcity in Retirement: 07:42
Reaching Financial Independence: 09:13
Front-Loading Retirement: 11:30
Ignoring Realities of Time: 14:38
Art & Science of Financial Planning: 18:59
Conclusion: 20:37

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

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The views expressed represent the opinion of Modern Wealth Management, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Adviser. Information provided is for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute investment, tax, or legal advice. Modern Wealth Management, LLC 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.