Q: I'm 62 and trying to make some decisions about retirement. I'm confused and overwhelmed with information. Recently a friend told me about a retirement coach. I've never heard of this before. Is this a good idea or just another scheme to siphon money out of people nearing retirement?
A: A retirement coach might be helpful, but the fees can be pricey. A retirement coach differs from financial advisors by helping clients with nonfinancial social issues you need to consider in retirement. These include finding the right type of housing, figuring out Social Security and Medicare benefits, transitioning into second careers or volunteer work, and staying engaged with others in the community. A retirement coach will help you think through what you want and help you develop plans to attain those goals. A coach can also advise clients on managing aging parents or younger family members and provide help for maintaining a healthy state of mind.
Fees vary, and are commonly more than $100 - $300 an hour, with clients frequently committing to buy a package of several sessions. The field is still new and there are not many standards or regulations yet, so it's vital to check a prospective coach's credentials and references.
Before spending the money, you may be able to accomplish a lot of your own retirement planning by exploring free or low-cost resources in your community. Try starting with educational programs offered by your local senior center, community college or public universities. Ask about classes and workshops specifically designed to help people over 60 learn about and think through major aspects of retirement and aging. Here are some questions to help get you started:
- How do you envision your perfect day in retirement? Are you the type that needs to be busy with work and projects to feel fulfilled, or do you look forward to spending time puttering around on your own, traveling or just enjoying leisure? Note how you like to spend your time.
- Where do you want to live and how will you get around? Do you plan to stay where you are, move to senior housing, or someday move in with family? Is it cheaper to rent or to buy? If you own a home, will your financial plan cover the annual maintenance and inevitable upkeep and repairs such as painting or replacing a roof? Will you have access to public transportation if you can no longer drive or afford a vehicle? Look for local workshops that review the types of housing options in your area for people over 60.
- How will you maintain interaction with others and enjoyable relationships? If you live alone do you have opportunities for regular activities with friends and family? If you were to move to new housing, how would that change things? Do you have good computer and internet skills? Are you active with volunteer activities?
- Do you have a plan to manage aging parents, siblings, or the needs of children or grandchildren? Do family commitments require your time, attention or other resources, including finances? If something were to happen to you, how would that impact other family members? If children or grandchildren come to you asking for loans or childcare, how does that impact your retirement finances and how will you manage that?
- Do you have a plan for changing health and lifestyle that may affect your income? How would you cope if you developed a chronic health condition that required expensive drugs? How would you know if you start having memory problems? Have you looked into the various types of senior housing, including those with plans that provide greater continuing long term care as you age? Have you discussed your plan or desires with family or other caregivers?
To help with your planning process, TSCL has pulled together a number of resources that can help. Visit TSCL's Retirement Resource Center.
Sources: "Now We Need A Coach For Retirement Too?" Elizabeth O’Brien, Market Watch, November 1, 2014.