Closing In

The Closing In Stage

means you can see the finish line. As you near your retirement date, you may wish to become a little more conservative in your investments. “Protection” may become your motto as you get closer to using your retirement funds. During this stage, you may also need to adjust your goals to align with changes that have occurred through the years. With retirement “closing in,” you’ll be able to better judge how your retirement savings will sustain you in your retirement years.

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"41% of Americans working at age 58 wind up retiring earlier than they’d planned"1

"Social Security benefits can be claimed as early as age 62, though the average senior signs up at 64."2


"Retiring later: 37% of workers report that they expect to retire after age 65."3


"Holding off pays off: monthly benefits at 70 are 76% more than if you start getting benefits at 62 — a difference of $570 each month."4

"Unless Congress enacts reforms, the Social Security trust fund is expected to be depleted by 2034, at which time, it would be able to pay just 79% of its promised benefits. No problem for a planner."5
The Basics
I’m planning for retirement. How can I estimate my social security benefits?

The Social Security Administration's website,, features a retirement estimator calculator that allows you to estimate your retirement benefit based on your actual earnings record. You can also sign up for a my Social Security account so that you can view your online social security statement. This statement contains a detailed record of your earnings, as well as estimates of retirement, survivor, and disability benefits.

If you're not registered for an online account and are not yet receiving benefits, you'll receive a statement in the mail every five years, from age 25 to age 60, and then annually thereafter.

Should I wait until full retirement age to collect social security or retire early at age 62?

When you retire is a very personal choice, and it depends upon your own personal circumstances and preferences. Remember, though, if you collect social security before your full retirement age, your benefit will be permanently reduced. Depending on the year you were born, you'll receive 25-30% less per month if you collect benefits at age 62 than if you wait until full retirement age to begin collecting benefits.

Of course, if you begin collecting benefits at age 62 and live to an especially old age, you may end up getting more money because you’ve collected more benefit checks.

There are many factors to consider and the Social Security Administration (SSA) has several online benefit estimators that can help you make an informed decision. Find them at (if you’d rather talk to an SSA representative, call (800) 772-1213). You can also sign up for a my Social Security account so that you can view your online social security statement. This statement contains a detailed record of your earnings, as well as estimates of retirement, survivor, and disability benefits.

Should I add long-term care insurance to my retirement plan?

There’s no standard yes or no answer. It all depends upon your medical history, your age, your assets and your income. Medicare, HMOs, and Medigap won’t pay for home care, nursing home care, or other assisted-living arrangements, so you may want to consider it if you meet some of the following criteria:

  • You are between the ages of 40 and 84 (generally, LTCI is not available to those over 84)
  • You are in good health and are insurable
  • You can afford the cost of premiums now and will be able to afford them in the future
  • You own substantial assets that you'd like to protect
  • You have family members to whom you wish to leave your assets
  • You have a family history of Alzheimer's disease
When should I start planning for the succession of my business?

Now. Your exit strategy and the subsequent transfer of power can be a complicated and emotional issue. The sooner you make a formal plan, the sooner you can start to groom the next generation of business leaders or keep things on track for a successful sale, if that’s what you prefer.

The key is deciding now what you want the future of your company to look like. Do you want control of the company to go to certain people, or do you want to provide for those people without leaving them the responsibilities that go with running a business? Both courses of action require prudent planning on your part. In fact, the process could take years. The right business succession plan will help you make important decisions about ownership, maximizing your company's value and identifying beneficial tax strategies.

You’re Closing In. What’s Your Plan?

You’re getting close to retirement. Now, more than ever, you need to have a plan in place. No less than one year from your planned retirement date, you should:

  • Get your debt in order.
  • Maximize social security.
  • Make sure your allocation fits your income needs.

An advisor can help you with all these points (we even have social security analysis software). So why wait? If you sit down and do these things, you can walk out the door with a better understanding of what you can spend in retirement. And that’s a good feeling.

Go-Go. Go-Slow. No-Go.

While planning your income strategy for retirement, keep in mind that your spending will likely change over time. In his book, "The Prosperous Retirement: Guide to the New Reality," Michael Stein introduces three distinct stages of retirement.


You’re still pretty active in this first stage, and spending more than in any other stage. This is where you may travel, take up new hobbies and spend time (and money) on the grandkids. This stage typically lasts until age 75.


Around 75-85, the energy starts to slip and the pace begins to slow. Homes are downsized and spending is too. In fact, annual expenses typically decline 20-30% in this stage.


As you pass 85 until the end of your life, your world and your expenses tend to shrink. The one exception, of course, is medical and long-term care costs. Planning for these uncertain expenses is one of the greatest challenges of retirement planning.

Five Retirement Income Strategy Options

Retirement planning boils down to this: making sure you have enough income to meet your retirement goals once you’ve stopped working for income. That is, you need to create a stream of income from your pool of assets. But how? Here are five strategies to consider:

Systematic Withdrawal.

At retirement, you take an initial withdrawal from your portfolio of a certain percentage, and then adjust that withdrawal that same percentage each year for inflation. You can do this with any percentage, but the strategy started with 4% as the standard. For example, with a $500,000 portfolio, you would take $20,000 in year one (4% of $500,000), then in year two you would adjust by 4% and take $20,600 and so on. Some researchers have shown that this  strategy could make your money last for 30 years. Others argue 4% is too low and you could end up leaving most of your money behind, while still others have data to prove 4% is too high and you’ll run out of money altogether. If you go this route, resist the temptation to set it and forget it. It requires monitoring and adjusting as needed. Remember, everybody’s situation and objectives are unique.


The Financial Planning Association (FPA) defines the bucket strategy as setting up separate pools of investments with lowest-risk investments in the near-term segment, somewhat higher-risk investments in the next segment, and the riskiest portfolio (highest reward) in the longest-term segment. You then draw income from one segment at a time, using assets from the next bucket for income when the current bucket is depleted. Sounds good, right? But spending isn’t equal across the short- to long-term (see “Go-Go, Slow-Go, No-Go” above). And many planners recommend more than three buckets, while others pull from other buckets before the first one is empty. Like any strategy, it isn’t totally black and white. It takes constant monitoring and adjusting to match the dynamic nature of retirement.


The FPA defines flooring as classifying retirement expenses as essential or discretionary. Essential expenses are funded by annuity guarantees or low-risk investments. Discretionary expenses are funded by a mix of medium- and high-risk investments. By annuitizing a portion of the portfolio to pay for everyday expenses, you can lock yourself into fixed income. The good: you don't run the risk of running out of money at the end of retirement like the first two strategies. The bad: you run the risk of under spending and living at a reduced lifestyle. In addition, you could run short on liquidity if an unexpected expense calls for a large lump sum of funds.

Required minimum distributions.

While assessing strategies that "best balance the risk of outliving wealth against the cost of unnecessarily restricting consumption,” the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College concluded that the IRS's required minimum distribution rules may be a viable alternative. Under the RMD rules, assets must be distributed and included in taxable income on the April 1 after a person reaches age 70½. Using this worksheet, you can figure this year’s required withdrawal for your traditional IRA. Each year the divisor changes, as does the amount in your account based on investment performance. This is a simple, straightforward income strategy. But is it right for you?

Interest only.

An even more straightforward approach is leaving the principal in your accounts and using only the dividends on stocks or the interest on bonds or certificates of deposit to provide income in your retirement years. The trouble is, only a small percentage of people are able to afford to use the interest-only strategy to fully meet their income needs in retirement.

Not sure which strategy is right for you? Start by asking the right questions. Check out “Designing a Smart Retirement Income Strategy—5 Questions to Ask” … then talk to an advisor.

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"Good news: 38% of those aged 62-67 chose retirement to spend more time with family, higher than other listed reasons of “disliking work” or “poor health.”"6

BOK Financial Corporation (BOKF) offers wealth management and trust services through various affiliate companies and non-bank subsidiaries including advisory services offered by BOKF, NA and its subsidiaries BOK Financial Asset Management, Inc. and Cavanal Hill Investment Management, Inc. each an SEC registered investment adviser. BOKF offers additional investment services and products through its subsidiary BOK Financial Securities, Inc., a broker/dealer, member FINRA/SIPC, and an SEC registered investment adviser and The Milestone Group, also an SEC registered investment adviser.

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