Personal Finance column: Five steps to embrace change as you head towards retirement |

Personal Finance column: Five steps to embrace change as you head towards retirement

Danielle Howard

As I say in my book “Your Financial Revolution,” don’t wait until there are five feet of snow in your driveway before you get a snow blower, or hope yours has enough gas in it. As much as is within your control, you want to be pro-active, not reactive as you move towards retirement.

The excuses sound reasonable at first glance. (e.g. “Time flies.”) There is a perception that paying attention to retirement before it unfolds is too painful, and what lies on the other side too daunting. As human beings, we tend to avoid things that make us uncomfortable. It’s important to get past the emotion and take a logical approach towards the change that is inevitably coming upon us.

I have had times in my life where change was hard. Let me share one of my experiences. My husband and I worked together in the financial services world for about 10 years. As we moved toward creating a life of no regrets, my husband wanted to fulfill his dream of becoming a teacher. We had to make some big changes in our life, emotionally (he had been the primary bread winner — that was about to change), physically (we moved), and financially (we had to assess our income and expenses as we made this shift).

Getting into a positive mindset

So how can we recognize where we are and then make the most of creating momentum that we feel good about?

1. Precontemplation: You are not ready to do anything in the next six months. This transition is, in your mind, still so far away. You are resistant to change, unmotivated or unready to reconnect with the financial tools you have and the mindsets needed to look at what will transition in retirement. Accept that you are in the phase, but know you don’t want to stay here.

2. Contemplation: You are ready to dive into change within the next six months. Actual retirement may still be a few years down the road, but the idea that it will be here sooner than you know is enveloping you. You have created an awareness of the positive benefits of looking at what lies around the financial corner but are still hindered by the challenges of the hard work ahead.

3. Preparation: You are prepared to immerse yourself in an action-oriented program. Understanding that the sooner you dive in, the more alternatives you are going to have is motivating you. This is where you will start doing your homework on what type of a financial team you want to build. Look for a fiduciary that will walk alongside you with a process, not necessarily a product. You are ready to face realities, knowing you have options and opportunities to move forward in a positive direction.

4. Action: You set your course with a time frame in mind, and you have picked your team to support you in the process. You are ready to recognize, revitalize and release your financial power. You are focused on being S.M.A.R.T. with your financial intentions. Are they suitable, meaningful, articulated, revitalized and timely?

5. Maintenance: As you transition towards retirement, you grow increasingly confident that you are headed in the right direction. You have support systems in place and you have established foundation to start building on. You have reconnected with the financial tools you have and how to keep them sharp and working properly. You have educated yourself around the techniques of taking money from different sources for your advantage. You have embraced that this new season of life has temperaments and mindsets that are very different from other seasons.

You can download my Monetary Manifesto at and join the financial retirement revolution now.

If you’re within five years of retirement and would like a copy of my book “Your Financial Revolution – Time to Recognize, Revitalize and Release your Financial Power,” send us an e-mail at

Danielle Howard is a Certified Financial Planner practitioner. Her office, Wealth By Design LLC, is in Basalt. Visit her at Advisory Services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research Inc., a broker/dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Cambridge and WBD are not affiliated.

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