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Navigating the Most Dangerous Decade: How To Thrive In Transition

In terms of retirement, there’s one particular span of 10 years that is the most critical. Known as
the “most dangerous decade,” the five years prior and the five years post your retirement are
the greatest predictors of retirement outcome. The term “most dangerous decade” was coined
by retirement researcher Wade Pfau who found that over 80% of retirement outcomes are
determined during these ten years. Reasons for this include the general shift in lifestyle,
spending, and investment management.

As you navigate this fragile phase, careful planning and strategic decision-making become
important to ensuring long-term financial security and health in retirement. It’s key to receive the
advice of a trusted expert in this period especially; however, there are a few things you can do
to best position yourself for this crucial time.

Rethinking Income Strategy

Many people think that achieving a savings goal is the single most important element of
preparing for retirement. The truth is that it’s even more important to create a strategy around
generating income in retirement. You simply don’t know how long savings will last. Creating an
income strategy in retirement equips you with an action plan that continues on. The more
diversified your income streams are, the better off you’ll be. Dividend-paying stocks, i-bonds,
real estate investments, annuities, and more all provide additional income streams. Diversifying
income streams enhances financial resilience and ensures a steady cash flow even as you
move out of the workforce.

Prepare for Healthcare Costs

Healthcare just keeps on improving! As medical advancements continue to progress, people are
living longer. That means retirement income has to stretch further as a result. Planning for
healthcare expenses is crucial, but it’s hard to anticipate these big things that haven’t happened
yet. Additionally, inflation for healthcare services continues to outpace the general economy. So,
costs for care are only going up, up, up.

A lot of people make the mistake of assuming Medicare will cover all of their medical bills in
retirement. But that’s simply not true. Medicare will cover some medical expenses. You’ll still be
on the hook for important things like vision, dental, and long-term care. While it’s difficult,
planning healthcare expenses early on is essential to mitigate financial strain in later years.
Even with the level of uncertainty, insurance premiums and medication costs are things you can
better plan for in advance.

Consider Your Investments

In retirement, your system of adding new money to your savings will shift and you’ll more
regularly be taking money out of your accounts. If the stock market is doing well, the money you take out might be balanced by new gains. But if the market is down for a while, every time you
take money out, it could be more like taking a slice from a shrinking pie. This is called sequence
of returns risk, and it’s something that all investors have to contend with.

If you retire when the market is up, you might be okay even if it goes down later. But if you retire
when the market is down, your savings might not bounce back. This risk is heightened during
the first decade of retirement when your portfolio balance is at its highest, and withdrawals may
have a more substantial impact on its sustainability. The market’s timing is beyond your
control, but you can take steps to minimize the risk. Regularly checking and adjusting your
investment mix every 6 to 12 months can help. Make sure your portfolio is diverse and matches
your age, goals, and how much risk you’re comfortable with. The important thing is to have a

Stay Active, Stay Healthy, and Stay In Touch

Beyond financial considerations, it’s extremely important to prioritize your health – mental and
physical – throughout the period right before and right after retirement. It’s a time of major life
shifts, disruption, and, frequently, some stress – no matter how welcome your retirement may
be! Staying active, engaging in meaningful activities, and maintaining social connections are
vital to a fulfilling retirement. By cultivating a healthy lifestyle, you not only enhance your quality
of life, you also reduce the risk of costly medical interventions in later years.

The most dangerous decade certainly sounds scary! And the truth is, it can have a huge effect
on your overall retirement. However, with planning and proactive strategies relative to your
income planning, healthcare costs, and investment portfolio, you will be well-positioned to
weather the storm. Your journey through retirement is not only about financial security; it’s about
living a fulfilling and purposeful life. Our comprehensive retirement planning aims to equip you
with the full package so you can do just that. To review the strategies for your “most dangerous
decade”, call us today at 952-460-3290.

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Danielle Christensen


Danielle is dedicated to serving clients to achieve their retirement goals. As a Paraplanner, Danielle helps the advisors with the administrative side of preparing and documenting meetings. She is a graduate of the College of St. Benedict, with a degree in Business Administration and began working with Secured Retirement in May of 2023.

Danielle is a lifelong Minnesotan and currently resides in Farmington with her boyfriend and their senior rescue pittie/American Bulldog mix, Tukka.  In her free time, Danielle enjoys attending concerts and traveling. She is also an avid fan of the Minnesota Wild and loves to be at as many games as possible during the season!