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3 Stages of Retirement: Go-Go, Slow-Go, and No-Go

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3 Stages of Retirement

I’m going to make one partner of mine, Kyle Hill, very happy with this post. We always tease him because one of his favorite sayings is: “go-go, slow-go, no-go.” Perhaps it’s time to reveal our inside joke.

The average couple retires in their 60s and lives until their 90s. With that in mind, there is said to be three stages of retirement. The go-go years, the slow-go years and the no-go years. Let’s take a few moments and understand these stages and what it means to you or your loved ones.

The Go-Go years:

For our example, the roughly 30 year retirement can be broken into three equal stages. The first are the go-go years. These are the years clients start making up for lost time. They go and do all the big trips they’ve never had the time to do–like that month long cruise or a trip to Asia. They start visiting family all over the country, sometimes even the world. Many times, they’ll live in different places and simply rent a house for their stay.

In essence, this stage is their “go,” as they are always on the move. We see those bucket list items get checked off one by one at a rapid pace. Of course, this means they’re spending is equal to, or in some instances higher than, what it was when they were working. When planning for retirement, it’s safe to assume this first third of retirement will be every bit as expensive as it was when they were working.

The Slow-Go Years:

The next stage of retirement is known as the slow-go years. Typically, couples enter this stage somewhere in their 70s and after the rigorous “go” years. Now, they’ve started to slow down. Their energy and zest for spending has come down, as well. We see clients do more low key cruises and trips to the shore with their kids and grandkids. If the go-go years are ripe with spending, these years change course.

We see many start to down-size their lifestyle during the slow-go years. Financially, it should be planned for them to spend less–less on cars, less on homes, less on travel, less on just about everything. This doesn’t mean this group does nothing, but it does mean they are living a simpler, and thus more inexpensive, lifestyle. Quite frankly, this is the easiest stage generally for us as planners. There aren’t too many big surprises and many times this is the first time people have surplus in their lifestyle.

The No-Go Years:

At last, we get to the final third–the no-go years. These are very interesting years to both live in and plan for. Generally in their 80s, this is when they have even less energy to spend money, but more energy to spend with family. Many reading this are in this stage, have parents in this stage, or even grandparents in this stage. Take a second to compare your lifestyle to theirs. Who do you think is spending more?  It’s you, most certainly.

The challenge with the no-go years isn’t on normal monthly expenses. They are easier to plan for, as generally debts zero out and expenses are low. The big challenge here is planning for health care. In one hand, their normal monthly expenses can be very low. But in the other hand, health care costs can range from nothing to six figures (yikes) worth of expenses.

Certainly there are certain things to do to get ahead of these threats (like purchasing long term care insurance, for instance). However, the unknown creates plenty challenges for both retirees and their financial planners.

No-Mo:

I’ve found understanding the three stages of retirement lets us compartmentalize retirement lifestyle expenses and it allows for the best possible predictions of the unpredictable.

The only thing you should know for certain about this article is… Kyle Hill will smile when he reads it.

Related: When to Bring Your Children into Your Finances

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