Life is full of surprises. Things don’t always go according to plan. For example, you hope to retire in the next 5 years. But then something unexpected happens …

  • You’re downsized out of your job.
  • You’re offered an early retirement.
  • Your health takes a sudden turn for the worse.
  • Or someone else’s health fails, and you need to care for them.

Man-Woman-Calculate-FinancesWhatever the reason is, many times, you may be forced to retire a lot sooner than you expected! You’re ill-prepared and now you’re left scrambling to pick up the pieces.

According to a research study featured in USA Today, 60% of Americans do not retire on their own terms. 29% said the timing of their retirement was somewhat unexpected, while 31% said the timing was very unexpected. But, at Brogan Financial, we didn’t have to learn this from a research study. We see this scenario play out nearly every day.

It’s a job loss. It’s a serious health issue. It’s something. If you were forced to retire today, would you be prepared? In this post, I reveal 5 steps that could better help you prepare for your retirement now, no matter what curveballs life throws your way!


  1. It all starts with a comprehensive financial plan.
    Not many people have a complete financial plan. A complete financial plan looks at where you want to be, and how you’re going to get there. By not having one, this is one of the fastest ways to get yourself into trouble. Without a plan, you’re just winging it, and potentially setting yourself for a big financial fall. And if you don’t have this plan set up well in advance, you could be putting yourself at even more risk.

    It’s important to note that a plan isn’t about just one thing, or about an overall number. It’s about many things working together, including social security benefits; income planning; income taxes; healthcare planning; long term care; Medicare; diversification; inflation; estate planning.

    One thing that many people also tend to forget is that a financial plan is a living, breathing thing – it’s not static. It’s not a set it and forget it, and could change frequently. It’s critical you have ongoing meetings with your advisor to update your plan. Saving for retirement is great, but it’s what you do with that money that really counts. How are you going to turn your savings into dependable income?


  1. Have a tax-efficient investment strategy for retirement.
    This is one of the most overlooked areas of investing. Yet, it could have a profound impact on your money and your investments, and ultimately your lifestyle in retirement. Taxes is probably going to be your largest expense in retirement, so it’s critical to get in front of this. You have more control over how much tax you pay in retirement – more so in retirement than any other time of your life.
  1. Have a diversified strategy to generate income in retirement.
    Successful retirements are not built on assets, or the amount of money you’ve saved… they’re built on your ability to generate income in retirement. Record low interest rates; a stock market at all-time highs; and anemic bond yields are making it more challenging than ever before to generate income in retirement today. Couple this with the fact that we’re living longer than shutterstock_264409757-009892ever before, and you have potentially a perfect storm of events facing baby boomers. If you’re struck with an unexpected retirement, your income stream will be more important to you than ever before.

    It’s important to note that longevity plays a key role in retirement planning today, with people living longer and longer lives than ever before. If you are forced into retirement sooner than expected, that could make problems worse if you don’t already have a plan to generate income in retirement.

  1. Ensure your asset allocation/diversification matches your appetite for risk.
    Overwhelmingly, when I talk to people in my office about their money and their appetite for risk, what they tell me does not match with what’s on paper. This is a trouble spot with nearly every new client – they are either taking on far more risk than they know or are taking on more risk than they need to at this stage of their life. This is especially important in the wake of an early retirement.

    Asset allocation/balance of assets is one of the critical pillars of retirement planning. Having a balance that mirrors your appetite for risk could help protect you during a market downturn. If you’re someone who prefers to take a lot of risk, talk to someone who lost their shirt in any of the previous market corrections. They could have avoided much of these losses by having a diversified portfolio.

    When discussing asset allocation, we talk a lot about the downside risk. But there’s also upside risk. You could potentially get higher returns, or generate more income, with less risk. Ultimately, investment is a balancing act of risk versus reward. We all want to make money and have growth, but how much loss are we willing to take? We have to always be balancing those.


  1. Don’t take your Social Security benefits at value.
    Generating income starts with Social Security. This is the one benefit that almost all of us get that is guaranteed by the government that we will not outlive. This is where everything starts. Social security remains to be one of the critical pillars of retirement planning. It is the foundation of your income plan. If you are forced to retire earlier than expected, you might feel pressured to claim your benefits right away. This could be a huge mistake. Or not. But the only way to know for sure is with a Social Security analysis because everyone’s situation is different. You shouldn’t create an income plan without having an analysis.

    The questions as to how or when to claim your benefits is more complicated than you think. Your decision could also cause you to forfeit additional benefits that are rightfully yours. So, the money you were counting on to help support you in retirement, if you make the wrong decision, could be a fraction of what you thought it was going to be.