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Approaching retirement in today's world

Nancy and Terry Koch outside of their apartment complex Friday, May 1, 2020 in West Allis Wi. Nancy a retired psychiatri
Nancy and Terry Koch outside of their apartment complex Friday, May 1, 2020 in West Allis Wi. Nancy a retired psychiatric nurse and Terry a technical writer are struggling to make ends meet in their retirement. (CREDIT: Darren Hauck/For The Washington Post)

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many older workers to reassess their careers and how they view retirement.

People who are fortunate enough to be working from home might be coping with a mix of technological hurdles, while also enjoying more family time and more flexible hours.

Too many others nearing retirement are facing real financial worries due to reduced income, job loss and instability in their investment accounts.

Under ideal circumstances, there are three broad choices about how to transition away from your full-time job — phased retirement, full retirement and continuing to work in retirement.

Due to the current conditions, it has now become even more critical when considering each of these options and which path could be the most beneficial for you.

Phased Retirement

Working from home during the pandemic might be giving some workers a small taste of what phased retirement is like.

Reducing the hours that you are in the office can help ease into a new routine where you will be spending most of your time at home.

You also will have some flexibility with your schedule, which will allow you and your family members to start experimenting with shared and separate calendars that will let both of you get things done without driving each other crazy.

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Most important, the pandemic has forced all of us to reassess the people, experiences and goals that mean the most.

Phasing into retirement can help you adjust your work-life balance as you continue to process how social distancing has affected you both professionally and personally.

Full Retirement

That same perspective and questioning of what life looks like going forward is leading many people “closer” to retirement to think about jumping into full retirement sooner.

Perhaps being away from your job is making you realize you had become accustomed to working for a paycheck only and not necessarily something that makes your overall life better.

Or, if you have been putting off retirement, the experience of social distancing might have motivated you to realize what really is important and has caused you to want to take full advantage of living life once it gets back to “normal.”

Social distancing has created a separation between our sense of self and our jobs that some people find a little unnerving.

That feeling is very common among new full retirees, even those who are following a long-established plan and retiring completely on their terms.

If you’re leaning toward a full retirement right now, talk to the important people in your life about how you’d like to reshape what is important to you and start living a more flexible and fulfilling life after work.

Working In Retirement

Even before the pandemic, more people were choosing to work after retiring. Today’s retirees are healthier and more active.

Some are working past 65 because they love what they do. Others transition to part-time jobs that let them explore other interests while still earning a paycheck.

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Many working retirees also want to bump up their retirement and savings accounts while they’re still able so their nest eggs keep pace with an increased life expectancy.

This not only helps in a way that can be seen and measured in actual account values, but also provides an emotional boost of confidence in retirement security. Could the coronavirus pandemic accelerate this trend?

While social distancing, many people have gained greater proficiency with technologies such as Zoom, Skype and WebEx.

Those skills could open up a whole new world of remote jobs, including teaching and consulting positions.

People with an entrepreneurial mind-set might be looking at the shifting landscape of global business and creating new opportunities for starting their own “dream” companies.

While others may be so tired of being cooped up, that when conditions are once safe again, they will seek part-time work as a way to balance their work and personal schedule.

If retirement was a strong possibility for you at the beginning of the year, the events that have shaped our world over the past few months probably have caused you to take a different perspective when it comes to retirement.

This experience has provided an opportunity to assess what parts of your life and schedule are most important.

It is helpful to illustrate all of your retirement options through an interactive planning program.

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This will allow you to compare each option and help guide you down the path that provides the most security both emotionally and financially.

Pete Alepra is a financial adviser at RBC Wealth Management in Cedar Rapids. The opinions in this article, prepared by ROL Advisor, are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Securities offered through RBC Wealth Management, a division of RBC Capital Markets LLC, member of NYSE/FINRA/SIPC.

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