Retirement Income Literacy – You Don’t Want To fail This Test!

Our aging population is lacking in knowledge around vital topics such as long-term care, Social Security, preserving assets, Medicare planning and creating sustainable retirement income streams according to a 2017 retirement income literacy survey conducted by The American College.  The results were chilling.  Only 26% of the respondents passed with a score of 60% or higher, with only 17% of women passing and 35% men.

I encourage you to take part in either the six question version, or the comprehensive 38 question quiz:


What I found intriguing was that respondents rated themselves as being knowledgeable.  88% responded that they were moderately to extremely knowledgeable, yet only 28.6 percent passed the literacy quiz with a score of 60% or more. I have been working with clients for over twenty years and I can empathize with the reasons for the disconnect.  It is challenging to comprehend the permutations that happen when moving from the “accumulation” to the “distribution” phase of life and the complexity of moving parts involved.  I also feel that many people have been shamed, talked over, or misled by the media and the financial services industry so much so, that they unwittingly don’t know what they don’t know.

It is time to #DoYourDollarsDifferently! If people THINK they are educated, but in reality they are missing the mark on addressing financial issues around lifestyle, liquidity, longevity and legacy, what can be done?

Three ways to increase your financial efficacy

  1. Take a realistic accounting of your situation.

In the same way having a fridge full of food doesn’t mean you are eating healthy, having money in various accounts, doesn’t mean you are optimizing your potential for sustainability  as you move into and through your fall season of life.  Accept what is.  It isn’t about having a lot of money or what you perceive is too little heading into retirement.   When you accept that you are financially where you are, because of your decisions, you can also choose to be the answer to doing your dollars differently.  You can spend a lot of time blaming others, the market, the government, your spouse or you can decide what attitude will serve you better and move forward.  You can decide what knowledge you want to attain and who to can advocate for you.

  1. Incorporate both knowledge and wisdom.

Retirement income planning goes beyond grasping basic financial principles.  Especially as people enter the fall season of life, the complexities of economic environments, tax laws, and personal life circumstances breeds an unstable and constantly changing ecosystem of decision making.  Many times financial decisions are emotional.  Who can walk alongside you to keep the emotions tempered and behavior attuned to your unique version of prosperity?  Albert Einstein quoted “Knowledge is realizing that the street is one way; wisdom is looking in both directions anyway”.  It is subtle, but financial knowledge can sometimes cause us step out without discerning possible consequences or unanticipated ramifications.  Bringing together the wisdom of others can serve you to see different perspectives or consider new ideas.

  1. Focus on process over product.

Many times we head to the physician and request a pill to cure what ails us instead of looking at our lifestyle, and taking charge of our destiny.  With your retirement income, you need to navigate and course correct as you move in the direction of your rewirement dreams.  While there are financial tools that can serve you, you need to understand what you are building, why you are building it and how each financial tool can best be utilized for your benefit.  Stay curious about your circumstances.  Live in a state of constant learning and strategic planning.  Don’t let any salesperson sell you a financial product that is the answer to your financial prayers.  Like a well scripted movie, each financial piece plays a part.  You are the producer – the vision of what you are creating is yours!  Find a good director that will assist you in defining and refining the part Social Security plays, your real estate or business dealings role, and how will your investments come into play.

Take the test and decide what you want to do with the results.  Did you do well or where you discouraged?  Either way, continue to build on your wins and stay astute.  Take the next step – read a book, sign up for a class, hire and advocate or advisor.  It is your life, you are in charge of creating your next best self in and throughout the “rewirement” season.  Make sure your character and financial assets are in place to support you.

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