How to Approach Retirement Conversations with Positivity - 5 Topics to Help You Achieve Goals

Approaching conversations with optimism can be tough when we face sensitive topics like retirement. Through positivity, we’re often able to find solutions that we didn’t think about before and motivate others to step in and help us find a pathway to success. Here are our top five topics you should address to help create positivity around retirement planning.

A couple sitting in front of a laptop reading.

Retirement brings a tremendous number of potential changes, including the loss of work-related routines, like commuting, conversations with coworkers and work outings. This can lead to losing a sense of purpose in life. 2020 numbers show that almost one-third of retirees in the U.S. show symptoms of depression.1^National Library of Medicine, Prevalence of Depression in Retirees: A Meta-Analysis, September, 2020That’s why it’s even more important to be prepared and explore the positive aspects of retirement early in the planning process

The Significance of Positive Conversation

With the indicated risk for depression also comes a tendency to not think about emotional needs in retirement. Retirees are more likely to prioritize financial needs and estate planning, before addressing what makes them happy, what they want to achieve in retirement or any other goals they might have. By trying to think about your own emotional needs, you can build positive habits once retirement starts.

Consider this experience from Professor Emeritus Terry Mitchell who is the recipient of the UW-UWRA Distinguished Retiree Excellence in Community Service Award. Mitchell chronicles his own retirement by using his experience and work in management organization research. Mitchell points to emotions like loneliness and disorientation being normal, because "interpersonal engagements" change in retirement.

For example, you'll likely experience an emotional response as you say goodbye to people, places and experiences that were a normal part of your daily work-centered routines. 

Paying attention to how you engage with people before you retire is key - this will help in creating a clearer picture of what's important to you, etc..., how you want to live in retirement and how to get there. By embracing new opportunities and finding meaning in your retirement, you are more likely to set yourself up for success in retirement planning.2^University of Washington, Retirement Association: The Retirement Process: A Psychological and Emotional Journey, Terry Mitchell, September, 2023

Retirement planning can be overwhelming. That’s without adding other stressors like emotional wellbeing to the equation. Here are five topics that can help you be better prepared and set you up for a positive approach to retirement planning and help others understand your plan.

1. What does your dream retirement look like?

This is a great first step that can help determine where you stand and how to express what you would like. Is there a specific location you’re interested in? Do you want to continue living independently or are you interested in communal living? Is there a need to work part-time or do you prefer a job that might help you find a sense of purpose? What are some of the purchases you’d like 

2. Who provides health care in retirement and why is it important?

An IRI study highlights one of the major concerns for near-retirees and retirees is health care and staying healthy. Roughly 80% of both groups said they worry about increasing health care costs and the impact of long-term care, specifically.3^Insured Retirement Institute, American Equity: Aligning Retirement Expectations with Financial Resources, May, 2022What will health care look like for you? If you retire before you’re 65 and lose your job-based health plan when you do, you can use the Health Insurance Marketplace®  to buy a plan.4^ Health Coverage for Retirees, September, 2023Keeping enrollment information, potential costs and more in mind is important when going this route. Asking yourself, how would I deal with a health event or if something happens is a great way to start filling in the blanks.

3. Where does my money come from once I retire?

This ties back to our first conversation starter. What are your dreams and goals? Income will likely determine how to prioritize your wishes and can even determine a potential retirement location. Use the graphic below as an exercise to see how you can build your retirement income. You can also find more pointers on potential strategy here. 

Social Security and pensions have changed drastically over the past couple of years and will continue to change in the future. The Social Security Administration estimates that benefits are only payable in full until 2037.5^Social Security, Office of Retirement and Disability Policy: The Future Financial Status of the Social Security Program, 2010This is echoed by Americans feeling less secure about their potential retirement income with more than half of near-retirees saying they will need more than twice what Social Security provides to make ends meet.3^Insured Retirement Institute, American Equity: Aligning Retirement Expectations with Financial Resources, May, 2022Products like fixed index annuities can provide guaranteed income that cannot be outlived and potentially supplement shortcomings in retirement income.

Click here to read more about their benefits and how they work.

4. When is the right time to retire?

This is a question that’s very individual and depends on circumstances mentioned in our previous listings. It’s important to ask, because it’s going to have an impact on potential goals and needed income. Generally, full Social Security isn’t available until age 67 and often retirement plans offered by companies are also tied to certain service records or employment history. You can check out our retirement income calculators to calculate how an annuity might fit into your retirement income plan and help you determine if your set-up would enable you to retire early or at the point you choose. One emerging trend that’s important when trying to answer this question is longevity.

With modern medicine and lifestyle changes, we generally live longer than previous generations. The Social Security Administration estimates that, once men turn 60, they may live another 22 years and women could live 25 years longer.6^Social Security Administration: Actuarial Life Table, June 2023Being aware of this factor will set you up for success when figuring out what your retirement income plan looks like. No matter what your timing is, taking the factors discussed into account will help you start a conversation with family or friends when you want to retire.

5. Have you talked to a financial professional?

While friendly advice from your family is important to consider, asking a financial professional that’s familiar with current market conditions, product lineups and can analyze your current retirement readiness is crucial. Recent research also shows near-retirees and those in retirement have high confidence in financial professionals and prefer getting information on retirement products from them.3^Insured Retirement Institute, American Equity: Aligning Retirement Expectations with Financial Resources, May, 2022Recent changes in the economy have also reinforced the need to get professional opinions and a want to turn to trusted sources.

While a new study indicates many people do not have access to financial professionals, the study also illustrates that making them a resource is important. 30% of people asked in BlackRock’s Read of Retirementstudy  said they feel more on track for retirement because they have access to an advisor.7^BlackRock, See the Moment: 2023 Read on Retirement, August, 2023This blog is all about conversations and a combination of drawing from you friends’ and family’s experiences and professional advice can help you in having a positive experience during retirement planning.




This content is for informational purposes only, and is not a recommendation to buy, sell, hold or rollover any asset. It does not take into account the specific financial circumstances, investment objectives, risk tolerance, or need of any specific person. In providing this information American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company is not acting as your fiduciary as defined by the Department of Labor. American Equity does not offer legal, investment or tax advice or make recommendations regarding insurance or investment products. Please consult a qualified professional. Annuities are long term vehicles designed for retirement income and are not suitable for everyone. They involve restrictions and charges, including possible surrender penalties for early withdrawals. Annuity distributions are subject to ordinary income taxes, and if taken before age 59-1/2 may incur an additional 10% federal penalty. Guarantees are based on the financial strength and claims paying ability of American Equity and are not guaranteed by any bank or insured by the FDIC. Availability may vary by state. Possible interest credits for money allocated to an index-linked crediting strategy are based upon performance of the specific index; however, fixed index annuities are not an investment, but an insurance product, and do not directly invest in the stock market or the index itself.

Under current tax law, the Internal Revenue Code already provides tax deferral to qualified money, so there is no additional tax benefit obtained by funding a qualified contract, such as an IRA, with an annuity; consider the other benefits provided by an annuity, such as lifetime income and a Death Benefit. Indexed annuities are not stock market investments and do not directly participate in any stock or equity investments. Market indices may not include dividends paid on the underlying stocks, and therefore may not reflect the total return of the underlying stocks; neither an index nor any market-indexed annuity is comparable to a direct investment in the equity markets. 

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