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5 Critical Steps for Successful and Stress-Free Retirement

The following is from Keith Springer’s latest radio show, 5 Critical Steps for Successful and Stress-Free Retirement. Check it out:

Smiling senior couple

Keith Springer: Welcome to Smart Money with me, your host, Keith Springer. We have a very important show today because, if you’re retired or close to it, this is no time to be fooling around. You need certainty. However, the future is unpredictable, and there’s no way to account for every possible scenario. The simple fact is that those who prepare diligently are sure to succeed, while those who put it off are doomed to fail. It really is as simple as that.

For some reason — it’s really funny, but — for some reason, everyone just wants to focus on the stock market when planning for retirement, and that’s crazy talk. There are so many other things that are more important. Even with that, let’s look at where we are so far this year. The markets kind of close to an all-time high, just a few percentage points away, and very few people have made money. The SNP has closed, but the NASDAQ is down, the international is down and, worse yet, this has come with a lot more volatility, which means a lot more risk.

This is risk you simply cannot afford if you are retired or close to it. Not to mention: Making zero or negative returns is not an option. A lot of people went broke even after six or seven years after the last crash. Well, whoop-dee-doo, it’s great you broke even for seven years. It’s great if you’re 20, but not so great if you are 60, 65 or 70.

Before we need to know where the markets are heading, you need a direction, you need goal and you need a road map. What’s crazy is that most people don’t spend any time at all to properly plan their retirement. You need to plan for it! It’s not just saving as much as you can and just throwing it at the stock market, right? I know that’s rather fun and most people just want to talk about or think about the market and yes, yes, we’re going to be talking about where the markets head and what investments are hot right now in the show today, but I would be remiss my duties to you as your financial adviser, your on-air, qualified retirement advisor, if I didn’t talk about how important the planning is first.

The ship wouldn’t leave port without knowing where it’s headed or where it needs to go, and a plane wouldn’t leave without a flight plan. Naturally, you can’t just be focused on the stock market. The cornerstone of any plan is your portfolio, but it’s just part of the plan. Is your plan just a bunch of scattered statements on the dining room table? Do you know exactly how much risk your portfolio is taking? Potential upside and downside? Do you need that much risk? Remember: If you’ve won the game, stop playing and invest for need — not for greed.

Building that portfolio using that scientific matrix is necessary, such as the standard deviation that we use, which is risk, or beta, which measures volatility, or alpha, which measures the amount of value added by a portfolio manager, or R-squared, which is diversification, or the Sharpe Ratio tells you if you’re getting the right return for the risk you’re taking.

They all must be a part of everything! Remember: Be the expert, or hire one, to help you create the retirement income stream that makes sure you’re never out of money as long as you have life and breath your body. They’ll show you little-known tax strategies in retirement that could save you hundreds of thousands of dollars that would help you along the way, marginal tax distribution strategies, a sequence of distribution strategies, self-security optimization and, of course, it all starts with a properly managed investment portfolio that comes with their confidence of knowing that you will achieve your objectives without the fear of big losses, and the peace of mind that you won’t get crushed again next time the stock market crashes.

We’re going to talk about that. I know the market is fun stuff, but you can’t afford other risks at the moment — that’s why any plan must have an asset protection strategy, a proven system, that monitors it. Remember: You passed your accumulation years and now you’re in your preservation and distribution years. This is why people call us the retirement guys — because your life changes drastically at this point and so must your finances. So very, very important.

Your retirement is up to you alone!

Today we’ve got a big show, because we going to be talking about what investors want in their financial plan and the five critical steps for successful and stress-free retirement. Plus, of course, I’m going to unveil specific strategies to help you get the biggest bang for your buck in this market and how to make money in any market so you’re getting the best return with the least risk possible. Grab a pen and a piece of paper. You’re going to want to take notes — it’s a great show! This is important stuff. Stuff that people tend to put off way too much. It’s important stuff, Michelle, it’s really critical. People tend to put off the planning, and they only think of what the market is doing, but you can avoid so much risk if you plan.

Michelle: Oh my goodness! Planning is absolutely key to having a successful retirement.

Keith Springer: It all comes together. I want to ask everyone — what is your retirement strategy? Do you have a tax strategy? Do you have a written plan that will generate income for you so you and your spouse never run out of money? Have you figured out how to maximize your Social Security benefits? There’s over 1,000 different options.

Have you developed a strategy to pay fewer taxes in retirement? It’s true — you can do that! What’s your plan with inflation? Skyrocketing medical expenses? What’s your plan the next time the stock market crashes? Let me ask you a question: We have a special offer today just for the first 10 callers on the show to make sure do you have the knowledge and the expertise and the ability to apply these financial planning techniques to your personal situation. Does your advisor have the experience and expertise and the knowledge to apply them? Are they a qualified retirement advisor?

I hope you’re keeping notes, because we’re doing two things. We’re going to learn what investors want in a financial plan and then cover the five critical strategies for a successful and stress-free retirement. All this stuff is important! It doesn’t matter if you’re already retired or planning for it. The show isn’t necessarily for you if you’re 17 years old and still in college, but I want you to enjoy it and have some fun anyway when you’re thinking about retirement. That’s why they call us the retirement guys — right Jared?

Jared: You got it, Keith! I love that name. So many people call us that now, Michelle — we’re throwing it out there a little bit and people go in and go, “I’ve been with my other advisor.” I had a guy recently who came over from Margaret Stanley’s, he’s twenty-something, and he’s like, “I’ve always known that when it was time to retire, I’ll come to you — you’re the retirement guys!”

Keith Springer: It’s funny. I’ve been doing this for 32 years now, and Jared, you got almost a dozen under your belt. All the fancy names. I write a new book, I do a lot of radio, a lot of TV.

Let’s get into what investors want in a financial plan and what do they need. It’s an article I found in a forum, and it interviewed thousands of people who are pre-retirees and retirees, and some of the stuff it says may make sense, but you really needed to see it written out.

Jared is a qualified retirement adviser. You focus on the planning, of course. The investment is just as important, but when you look at some of these, people would say rate of return is the most important thing they need to get to their financial goals. That’s number one. It’s amazing — it’s higher than tax planning advice and guidelines. It’s amazing, because you don’t think of tax as being an issue in retirement, but it really is a key issue.

Jared: It really is a key issue, and this is what advisers should be doing. If they’re not, you really need to think about who you’re working with. You really need to see to come and see us. I know “the retirement guys” is a compliment, because that’s what we do. Tax planning advice and guidance strategies are key, because, as we see, there are a lot of different tax strategies that are specific to seniors.

Keith Springer: We talk about some of the planning and remember the best three legs to the investment and retirement investment plan. First of all, you want to make sure the planning is done first. Nobody ever really does the planning. It is creating a retirement income analysis so you can get that income stream you and your spouse cannot outlive, and tax strategies in retirement to reduce your taxes in retirement. You have more control over your tax situation than you do when you’re in working. Very, very important.

Social Security optimization and marginal tax distribution strategies to make sure money is in the right bucket so when you start pulling money out — also known as the sequence of distributions. Then, you pull money from the different buckets to put yourself in the lowest tax bracket now and, really, for the rest of your life. Tax strategies are critical. The second leg is the investment platform and the third leg is asset protection. You got to have a protection plan.

Tax advice was right up there. Some of the things I was surprised at: Debt ratio is only at 20%. That was much lower than I would have thought. Spending budget schedules to avoid withdrawing money too early was only at 40%. That should have been much higher. It’s really interesting — only at 30% is the state succession and planning guidelines. Nobody really thinks about stuff down the road. Everyone’s thinking about today. The typical American way of what it looks like today and what am I going to get today. Mostly on the market, basically focused on the stock market. Make sure you do the planning and tax strategies. Luckily, people noticed that — more than 48% worry about that. It’s really interesting. Unfortunately, charitable giving advice and guidelines was down around 15%, and a little bit higher than none-of-the-above.

Michelle: That’s a plus. I have a question about this, because I find this interesting when people look for what they want or need in a financial plan. A lot of it, as you mentioned, is they’re looking at what their present net worth is and how much they can get. In that, you can have that amount, but you need to plan it out so it just doesn’t go away.

Keith: We talked about that a lot. You’ve got to tell your money what to do or it’s not going to do anything at all. Many people, as they get into retirement or get close to it, that’s why we like to plan with someone for five years and within retirement. Typically, we work with — we’re a very niche group. We work with people typically five years from retirement or people who are planning seriously for retirement and are already retired. That’s the people we work with in our clientele.


You want to make sure that you’re telling your money what to do. So many times, way more times than that, probably three to one. People are there, they’ve won the game. They are riding the market up and down. They don’t need that much risk. Remember: You want to get the best returns with the least risk possible. Let’s just say it needs to be preservation or purchasing power, which is inflation and taxes. Meaning: If you just got a nice 7% return, 7 or 7 1/2% return, that’s great! They might be invested in the market with a standard deviation of 15, where they really should be at an 8 or 10.

They might be taking too much risk to the Sharpe Ratio and not getting the return for the risk that they’re taking. It doesn’t necessarily tell you how much risk you’re taking —it just tells you that you’re getting the right return for the risk you’re taking. More times than not, I see a Sharpe Ratio of point 5, meaning they’re getting half the return they should be getting for the risk. What that implies is that they’ve been subjected to too much downside.

Back to what I was saying a minute ago: Your goal is just to keep pace with inflation and taxes, because you’re close to winning the game. Let’s say you need a rate of 7 to 8%. Maybe your downside only needs to be 7 or 8, or 10 maybe. Not 30 or 40 or 50. Why would you risk taking 50% of the downside and losing half your money, like in ’08, to make maybe 9 or 10%? Because the market historically only provided a 10.2 rate of return. Do you want to invest?

It’s one thing if you’re 20 or 25 or 30 and you’re making a go of it. You’ve got plenty of time. But if you’re 60, there’s no do-overs again. If you’re there and you might be saying, “I’m riding the market up and down. On average, on the best of years, it says you should make around 10%, or probably a little higher.” But we know it could lose 50% or more because of you can’t afford to lose half of it. Make sure that you’re getting the right return and taking the right risk to get there, because that’s how you optimize your risk return — you invest for need and not for greed, and it’s really, really critical to employ somewhere.

Michelle: And I think that’s a great point, looking at that plan. I know that we’re also talking about the five critical steps for a stress-free and a successful retirement.

Keith Springer: Yes, exactly, and this comes from a report I wrote a couple of years ago and I update every couple of years. Really, the rules of retirement have changed — you’ve got to understand that what we were told by our parents and our grandparents 40 years ago, 30, 20, even 10 years ago, it’s a pipe dream now. It used to be if you are loyal to a company, you get a lifelong pension, save some money in a 401(k), you’ll have an income, you get Social Security, which we are not even sure if it’s going to be there in this current situation. Our parents or grandparents bought a house and it quintupled. Unless you live in San Francisco, you’re not living on your house, I hear these stories of people who bought a house in San Francisco for $20,000 and sold it for $2 million. That’s not the rest of the world.

When it’s time to retire, your investments and your home will have grown many times over. That’s what we were told, but it doesn’t work that way. Social Security will always be there for us, we know that’s not the case, I don’t know if we were sold a bill of goods or just a natural order of things, but one thing is for certain: The rules of retirement have definitely changed. You’ve got to take risk out of your retirement, take control of your finances and again if you’re at the retirement age. We’ll talk about that.

If you’re within five years of retirement, you’re already enjoying your golden years. You’ve got a new set of concerns that other generations didn’t have to worry about. When they start taking Social Security, you’ve got to figure out long-term care, you’ve got to think about elder care, not only for you, but for your parents. And people are living a lot longer. Let’s face it: People used to live five years into retirement. Social Security was designed only to supplement two to five years of your retirement, not people who are living 30, 35, 40 years on Social Security. It isn’t designed for this.

You’ve got to make sure that you and your advisor — make sure they’re qualified — are talking about everything, and not just your investments. If you’re just talking about your investments, you’re missing the boat. It’s complex. You’ve got to talk about tax strategy, talk about creating an income stream, because you’ve got to replace the pensions that were once offered and are not offered any more. You’ve got to talk about Social Security optimization. For our parents, it used to be that they flip them on and they got them for life.

It’s different now. We’ve got them covered: The five often-overlooked strategies that are critical to successful and stress-free retirement. And let me ask you something real quick: Is your solution to retire that you’re going to work until you’re 70 or 75, or maybe for the rest of your life?

Keith Springer wealth

If you’re being truly honest with yourself and what you really want to be doing when you could be doing anything and everything you wanted to. What if you retired sooner than you think? What if you’re retired and you don’t have to sweat on being retired ever, because you know your setup properly. You can, and it all starts with the cornerstone of every retirement master plan.

To make it easy for you today, I’m going to continue with a special offer I have for the first ten callers for a free customized retirement income plan tax analysis. In this customized analysis, you discover exactly when and how you could retire sooner or later and stay retired without ever having to sweat it. How to maximize your return while minimizing your risk. How to bring every nickel out of your Social Security benefits, how to reduce your taxes in retirement and how to prepare and protect your retirement savings from inflation, skyrocketing medical expenses, as well as the next stock market crash.

Keith Springer: These are often overlooked. These are strategies and steps that you’ve got take that not everybody thinks about. And let’s jump right into number one. What do you think, Michelle?

Michelle: I think that’s great, especially if they’re overlooked. I want to know what they are. So, Keith, what is the first strategy?

Keith Springer: People underestimate understanding today’s economy. It’s what I wrote about in my brand-new book. I do talk about it extensively in the new book, we’re not in the typical market cycle that most of us are used to. There’s a large majority of our population well past their peak spending.

I talk about a lot people who spent the most in their 30s and 40s and slow down drastically when they hit their late 40s and into 50, and the economy needs more spenders than savers, which is what we had in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Let’s think about it; We had 90 million baby boomers who hit their peak spending in the 1980s and 1990s. Every baby boomer is over 50. We know that people peak their spending at 48. You spend the most at 31 to 48, so let’s say at 50 years old, people are done spending the most. It doesn’t mean you quit spending and you just go hide under a rock. No, no.

Three things you spend more money on at 50 is nicer wine, nicer vacations and nicer cars, right? But still, your kids are pretty much grown-up and they are outgrowing faster than anything else, you’re not buying clothes, you’re not hitting the clubs as much and you tend to spend less. 90 million baby boomers we have, who will be replaced by 65 million of the next generation, and 65 million cannot replace the buying or purchasing power of 90 million people.

You naturally have slow growth, which is what we’re in. I covered this in my first book — it’s important to understand the economy. The good news is the echo boomers, the kids born of the baby boomers, there are 85 million of them. In 2023, they will hit their peak spending. We’re going to have probably another roaring ‘20s. It’s going be great.

The bad news is for the next five, six, seven years, it’s not going be so good. It’s going to be very low inflation or deflation, as I keep saying. Without the Fed stimulus, we would have been in a deflation environment. That’s why a lot of people said I was nuts in both books calling for no inflation.

Keith Springer 2 inflation

Everybody said, “The Feds are pretty much going out of style.” No, we have to create inflation. They were just replacing money that was destroyed. Wealth is so much destroyed, and you’ve got to understand how to apply this to the market and understand where you are. So very, very important. Understanding the economy, you read about it in the book, but you’ve got to follow it. That’s the importance of working with a qualified retirement advisor like yourself, Jared, because you stay on top of everything. Not just the planning, but you’re watching the markets and economy every second.

Jared: You really are, and it all comes down to planning at the end of the day. It’s not only the economy, but how to make sure everything’s in place so that you can retire, you can have that successful retirement.

Keith Springer: Putting all the planning in place. But it does start with what the economy is doing, and I’m not saying the daily stock market. It’s understanding what’s moving the stock market in the big segment. I talked a little about it a couple of seconds ago. Demographics — they’re very predictable. You know, in the broader sense, we’re going to have certain spenders. If we know people spend the most from 30 to 50, we need to know how many 30 to 50 year olds we have in the economy.

Right now, we don’t have many, because Generation X? They’re in their peak spending, but there’s not enough of them to replace the baby boomers. Then again, not until the echo boomers really start to kick it in will we see a difference. You always want to pick up extra income when you can, invest for dividends. And Michelle — remember that great report from Alpha Beta Gamma?

Love that report. It’s a recent research study by Morning Star who concluded that people who work with a qualified retirement advisor generated 23% more income in retirement. When you think about the numbers, if you’re making 60 grand in retirement, you’re now making 74,000. If you were making 75,000, now you’re making 92,000, or if you’re making 100,000 know you’re making 123,000. 23%! I want you to see this for yourself.

These are things that are often overlooked, but they’re critical. It means you’ve got to do them. You’ve got to think about these. The first one was understanding the economy. I went into detail about that.

The second one is something I say quite often: Invest for need, and not for greed. Yes, I trademarked that thing. I have it on shirts and hats — it really should be a way of life, because you got to create an investment strategy that gets the best return based on what you need, so your finances get the returns, but with the least risk possible.

A way you can win by not losing, and your portfolio should be made up of investments that perform well if it goes up, but more importantly, outperforms when it goes down, meaning it goes down less. As you get older, you don’t have time to recoup large losses. The market took eight years to get back to where it was. You don’t have time for zero games or negative games. You don’t want to lose 50% of it when it drops. So make sure you can afford these big losses and get the returns that you need but with the least risk possible.

Number two, Jared, actually that was number two. What do you think of number three?

Jared: Number three is Social Security. It’s a tax-free asset, which, obviously it’s not any more. It was designed to be, it was supposed to be, and it was for a very long time, but you’re right — it’s not any more. It all depends on what we call the sequence of distribution. By choosing the right option, it can be a very daunting task. There are over 1,379 options to choose from, and choosing the right option can mean a difference of six figures: $100,000 up to $250,000. That’s a lot of money, Keith.

Keith Springer: That’s crazy, especially when you’re thinking about retirement income. Social Security was designed to be a tax-free asset, but it’s like everything else when you putting together your retirement master plan: There are a lot of landmines in retirement. Inflation, it’s not here now, but it’s going to be. Healthcare is certainly inflating by 9%-17%. We know taxes are going up, no matter who gets into the White House. We still have record-low interest rates, a bipolar stock market that seems to take away faster than gives, or doesn’t go anywhere at all, and you’ve got to make sure that if you’re retired, or ever hope to be, you take into account how you’re going to make your savings and investments generate income in retirement while minimizing your risk.

It’s eally, really important that you put all these together, and you have to know how savings and investments generate income while minimizing risk. How long your money is going to last until retirement, how and when to maximize Social Security benefits. Jared, what we just talked about —  protecting your savings and investment from inflation, medical expenses and raising taxes, and how you prepare your portfolio for the next stock market crash so that you can make money in any market.

Keith Springer: Jared just talked about Social Security, number three. And this is all part of the retirement income analysis. To recreate a retirement income stream that will last the test of time. Something that you and your spouse could never outlive as long as there’s breath in your body. People are living longer and longer. You’ve got to make sure you have the right distribution plan. That’s never been more important.

25 years ago? I used to plan for clients to live until 80 and 85, and I’ve been doing this for 32 years. Then it was 90. Now we’re using a hundred. Just a few years ago it was 95, now we’re using 100. Social Security wasn’t designed to last 30 or 40 years. So we’ll plug right along. Number four. Jared —  will we need elder care? Do you think so?

Jared: We will need elder care, absolutely. If you’re think about working your entire life, scrimping and saving, only to see your savings decimated by an illness in the family or someone retiring early. It really isn’t a question of if — it’s a question of when it’ll happen to you, your spouse or your parents. Here’s an interesting stat, Keith: Up to 80%-90% of your wealth can be spent in the last 30 months of your life.

Keith Springer: That’s true. 80-90%.

Jared: That’s a lot of money. You really have to plan. It will mean the difference between travelling to visit your kids in first class on a plane or taking the bus, right? It’s definitely important to plan for elder care.

Keith Springer: Yeah. These are all things I talk about in my new book.

Number five is be the expert or hire one. If your advisor is just an investment guy or an investment buyer or a stockbroker, and he’s just talking about your investments, you’re missing the boat. If you’re like most people, you’re probably good at saving, or maybe saving for retirement, but maybe not so good to plan for retirement, a retirement master plan. It’s a lot like running a marathon without knowing the course or where the finishing line is.

The most important takeaway you can have from anything — reading my book, these reports or listening to the show — is that you need a comprehensive financial game plan. What we always call a “retirement master plan” or a “retirement income and tax strategy analysis.” It’s a plan that addresses all facets of your golden years to make sure you can live stress-free in your retirement. The one you truly dreamed of that includes Social Security, a tax-efficient retirement income plan, investment management with risk control so you get the best return but with the least risk possible, estate planning, legacy planning, tax strategies, sequence and distributions and marginal tax distribution strategies. And the sooner you do this, the better off you and your family will be.

Stop procrastinating! Take the first step. As I said, call for that customized retirement income strategy analysis. I can’t stress that enough, Michelle. We talk a lot about it on the show, and I write about it in my newsletters, which you have mentioned. They are written for clients, and they’re available on the website,, but too many people overlook the planning and everybody just wants to talk about the stock market, which is crazy, right?

Michelle: Right! And the key is everybody’s looking at the stock market and they’re trying to get to this number, but when you hit this number, you need to tell your money what to do, because it could just go “poof,” and that would be bad.

Keith Springer: Most people don’t know what the number is, and it isn’t really necessarily a number. It’s how much income it will generate. But more importantly, how do you generate that, or how do you invest your money? Remember: Get the least risk possible, at least on your core investment. At least set it up so the amount that you absolutely need is set up and guaranteed, because you basically have to replace a pension that no longer exists. Your granddaddy had a pension, but you don’t.

Create a pension and an additional source of security. Once you have that money set up, then you can take some risk. But until you’re to that point. Don’t take risks you can’t control or afford.

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