Question: I’m a 57 year old clinical physician thinking about slowing down in the next few years. I don’t feel I have enough money to retire but maybe I do? How do you analyze a client’s finances to make this determination? Any thoughts you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Lia, MA

Answer: In essence Lia, you want to know when enough is enough. It’s a tough question to answer because everyone’s “enough” is different. As an advisor, I like to perform what I refer to as a S.W.O.T. analysis for my pre-retired clients. The acronym S.W.O.T. stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Here’s an example.

STRENGTHS
1. No debt except mortgage
2. Drive and willingness to continue working
3. All portfolio expenses under 1%
4. Pension with cost of living adjustment

WEAKNESSES
1. No Long-Term care insurance
2. Interest only mortgage
3. Not enough in Emergency Fund
4. Under $250,000 in investments

OPPORTUNITIES
1. Group LTC insurance available at discount through employer
2. Can decrease portfolio risk and potentially enhance return by making allocation adjustment
3. Can carry-forward realized losses on tax return in perpetuity until used up
4. Use small inheritance as seed money to fund home-based business

THREATS
1. Time/expense of caring for elderly parent
2. Potential layoffs at work
3. Loss of own health
4. Age discrimination

Lia, once I have the S.W.O.T analysis done it’s time for a chat to talk about potential options and considering what solutions will help you achieve your goals. In this case, the woman and I agreed for her to work longer, save more, adjust her portfolio allocation, consider LTC insurance, get her estate plan updated, refi her mortgage, consider starting her own business, etc. It can be hard to be objective if you choose to do this S.W.O.T analysis yourself but it has been done before. As an alternative, consider seeking out a fee-only financial advisor who will work with you on an hourly or flat-fee basis (no product salesman please) to give you a second opinion and help you arrive at your retirement destination.

Bill’s Bottom-line: Learn when enough is enough by working with a fee-only advisor. Find one at www.CFP.net or www.GarrettPlanningNetwork.com.

Author's Bio: 

Bill Losey, CFP®, CSA, America's Retirement Strategist®, is the resident retirement planning expert on CNBC's "On The Money" television program. He has been named one of America's Top Financial Planners (2008 & 2009) by the Consumers' Research Council of America, is the author of Retire in a Weekend! The Baby Boomer's Guide to Making Work Optional, Founder of National Retirement Planning Month, and he publishes Retirement Intelligence®, an award-winning weekly newsletter that reaches thousands of subscribers worldwide. Bill is a highly sought-after advisor, retirement authority, thought-leader, author and TV personality because he makes the complicated and mundane topics of investing and retirement fun!

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