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What Will Retirement Income Look Like for You?

By Money & Finance Editor Ellen Duffy, CFP™


I spend a lot of time thinking about and reading about all things retirement. It is a vast topic! What does retirement mean to you? How do you envision retirement? How do you plan for retirement? What will income in retirement look like for you? We know that women may have retirement challenges including…

  • Longer average life expectancy requiring women to plan for additional years of income.
  • Higher healthcare costs.
  • Lower earnings throughout their working years due to serving as primary caregiver to children and aging parents, and the wage gap. Lower earnings translate to lower retirement savings and social security benefits.
  • Likelihood of widowhood or divorce – it’s imperative that women understand their financial situation.
  • Lack of confidence in matters of money, investing and financial decision-making.
  • Money belief systems – are you comfortable making financial decisions? What messages did you receive about money growing up? Do you feel that you are in a place of abundance or scarcity?

I think about my own group of seven high school girlfriends. We are still good friends today, almost 40 years after graduating in the Class of 1985. Out of the seven of us, only one has a dad who is still living. Our mothers were widowed/divorced at various points along the way, and many inherited sordid financial situations to manage…ready or not! This speaks to the need to feel informed and engaged throughout your financial life, whether you are single, married, primary breadwinner, primary bill payor, or operating in any other household role.

When we think about retirement, much is focused on the financials. How much income do we require? Is there an optimal time to pull Social Security? Consider the alphabet soup of investment accounts – IRA, ROTH, 403b, 401k, HSA, 457, Non-Qual accounts, etc. Is there an optimal way to draw upon assets? What about Medicare? Am I investing in stocks, bonds, CDs, cash, real estate, or some combination of all? What is an appropriate strategy for me and my goals? Is the estate plan in place? Is there a way to minimize taxes? Can I afford to gift some money to my kids? These are financial considerations that many may contemplate as part of ongoing retirement planning.

Still, much has been written lately about non-financial challenges in retirement. Many folks anticipate retirement with great excitement as a reward for many years of hard work. Visions of great travel, ample time spent with family and indulging in long, neglected, favorite hobbies resound. Yet retirement, like any major life transition, may prove to be a destabilizing shift that surprises with feelings of loneliness, missed routines and colleagues, and a lack of purpose.

Couples may find that they have different priorities in retirement, or that the sudden increase in “together” time may require an adjustment period.

In discussing a 2023 report entitled “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation, the US Surgeon General’s Advisory on the Healing Effects on Social Connection and Community,” US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy MD identifies loneliness as a corrosive condition with grave consequences. Dr. Murthy indicates that social disconnection increases our risk of depression and anxiety and heightens our risk for stress related physical ailments such as heart disease, stroke, and dementia.

Feelings of isolation may tend to decline during young adulthood and throughout mid-life, only to emerge again after the age of 60 – and increasing through age 80. As people get older, relationships from working or raising a family tend to fall away. It’s important to continue building your tribe or your community. According to Dr. Murthy, we have social muscles just like physical muscles – and we must keep exercising these muscles or they will weaken. So, let’s exercise our physical and social muscles, make informed financial decisions, nurture our key relationships, and build our community. Plan for an enjoyable retirement  you deserve it!

Ellen Duffy CFP™ simplifies money and investing so that her clients feel confident about making decisions for their financial future. She is a Certified Financial Planner™ and owner of Parkway Wealth Management, an independent wealth management firm in Boston offering investment advisory and planning services. After spending 20 years in investment management with “downtown” firms, Ellen founded Parkway Wealth to serve clients in an authentic way and offer personal financial advice. Her business has a focus on women, helping women feel more confident and informed. Today, women have more responsibility for the financial well-being of the household than ever, yet despite this increased role and responsibility, many women feel uncomfortable talking about money and investing.  Ellen works with clients to understand their questions, concerns, hopes, and fears. Financial planning is about freedom and choices. Ellen lives in West Roxbury with her husband Tim Turley and their three teenagers. An active community member, Ellen believes an integrated approach to “health, wealth, community” can build a strong foundation for a lifetime of financial well-being. (Investment advice offered through Private Advisor Group, a registered investment advisor.)

Health, Wealth, Community – It’s All Connected. Investment advice offered through Private Advisor Group, a registered investment advisor.

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