Don’t just retire; plan an exit strategy. |

Don’t just retire; plan an exit strategy.

Jeffrey Apps and Tracy Tutag

Don’t wait for a crisis to begin plan and finance an exit strategy. If you have not already done so, Start now, it’s wise to spend some time seriously envisioning life after work. With increasing conversation around the impending adjustments to Social Security and collapse of once dependable pension systems, consumers are beginning to realize that important benefits once held sacred will not be available in their current format and certainly will not represent adequate retirement income to maintain current lifestyles over the long-term. Without proper planning, the possibility of outliving ones assets remains a threat. If you have not already done so, ask yourself the hard questions such as:What does retirement mean to me? What will I transition to? How much money will I need to maintain my current lifestyle in retirement? What about tax planning? How much do I need to invest systemically over a specific period to maintain my current lifestyle? Am I using credit wisely? What will my life, disability and health insurance needs be over the long-term? Will the right people benefit from my assets?Financial planning offers a common sense approach to help you reach your life goals. To achieve the best results, considering the following:Be specific. Set measurable life and financial goals. Determine what you want to achieve and when you’d like to see results. For example, if you’d like to pursue a second career after you retire, take concrete measurable steps to meet your goals now. Seek help. Establish relationship with a reputable financial team.If you don’t possess the relevant financial expertise, seek professional help. A typical financial team consists of a financial professional, an accountant and an attorney. These relationships should help educate you about the benefits and downsides of investment choices, offer useful tax advice and empower you to make educated decisions. The suite of services provided by financial teams includes but are not limited to: financial planning strategies; cash flow and budgetary planning; life insurance planning; bill payments/bookkeeping; tax planning and preparation; financial planning assistance for family and relatives; investment management/portfolio asset allocation; charitable giving planning; disability and long-term care insurance planning and Estate planning.Put a systematic plan in place.With the help of your financial team put a plan in place and follow a common sense course. Develop and live by a realistic budget. To be successful, it is important to be disciplined. Avoid wasting resources that may be difficult if not impossible to regain. By developing good habits in saving, budgeting and investing early, you will be better prepared to meet changes in your life.As part of the process, you might develop discretionary and non-discretionary spending plans. Planning for tomorrow doesn’t have to mean suffering today. Often times a prearranged amount is set aside for the purchase of items sought for personal gratification. Examine your current financial state.Gather and organize important financial papers and share with your financial team. You must be forthright. Armed with the relevant information, your team can adequately help you define your financial status and chart a realistic path. Take time to understand the effect of each financial decision and how they impact other areas of your life. For example, an investment decision may have tax consequences. It is crucial to understand your level of risk and how it alters the time frame in which you can expect results. Ask questions, if you do not grasp what is being recommended, do not be embarrassed to say so — a competent financial team educate clients so they are empowered be in charge of their financial destiny. Be clear about what is being recommended before you sign on the dotted line, no matter who’s looking over your shoulder.Revisit and revise your plan periodically.Periodic review is critical. As time goes by, life issues evolve; a new baby, a marriage, a new house, a change in contract or governmental legislations. Shifts in ongoing personal circumstances may require adjustments to your existing financial plan. The acquisition of a new home or some form of large indebtedness may require moving dollars into a different savings vehicle. A contract change may warrant the review and purchase of additional disability coverage. Likewise a marriage or divorce may involve asset protection planning to secure parties’ interests. With the help of your team, revisit your plan from time to time and make realistic revisions so that you stay on track.Every working professional will face retirement eventually. Ideally, the decision to leave a profession should be yours, and if not, a well thought out, executed financial plan can help you prepare for a graceful exit.Jeffrey Apps & Tracy Tutag offer securities and investment advisory services through AXA Advisors, LLC (member NASD, SIPC) 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY (212) 314-4600 and offers annuity and insurance products through an insurance brokerage affiliate, AXA Network, LLC and its subsidiaries. They can be reached at (970) 926-6911 or tracy.tutag@axa-advisors.comVail Colorado

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