The Keys To Living “Your Best Financial Life”

5 minute read

For many Baby Boomers, entering the Peak 65 Zone comes with a lot of uncertainty and a number of what-if’s. You’ve done your best to save for life’s next chapter, but how can you make your money last? What if you outlive your retirement savings? And, perhaps the biggest—what if you got a late start, and haven’t saved enough?

Anne Lester, former head of retirement solutions for J.P. Morgan Asset Management Solution Group and an Education Fellow with the Alliance for Lifetime Income’s Retirement Income Institute, has been there. In her new book, “Your Best Financial Life: Save Smart Now for the Future You Want,” she takes readers back to a time when she was managing billions of dollars worth of retirement assets for clients, yet was living paycheck-to-paycheck herself, due in large part to what she says was a lack of willpower when it came to spending. “Learning more about behavioral economics and about brain wiring, it was like a light went off in my head,” says Lester. Acknowledging that her poor spending habits had to do with the way she thought about money, she started to develop a plan that included creating mental guardrails to help her stop overspending and save for the future. The end result was being able to retire early, on her own terms.

WATCH Your Money Map: The Keys To Living “Your Best Financial Life”

For pre-retirees, saving for your golden years can seem daunting. But, as Anne Lester, former head of retirement solutions for JPMorgan Asset Management and Alliance for Lifetime Income Fellow explains, everyone can find a way to save for the future. In her new book, “Your Best Financial Life,” Lester outlines actionable steps to identify what retirement tools are best for you and an easy-to-use roadmap to ensure you’ve saved enough. On the next “Your Money Map,” Lester joins host Jean Chatzky to share how you can lay the groundwork for a secure retirement and ultimately, live “your best financial life.

While Lester was able to right her financial ship, there are many Americans hitting the Peak 65 Zone who haven’t. According to a new survey from the Alliance for Lifetime Income, 48% of Peak 65’ers believe their retirement savings aren’t going to last their lifetime. If you’re one of them, you’re probably concerned, wondering what steps you can take to secure your future. “For some people in those circumstances, they may not have the choices or the time available to make it good, but there are things we can do to make it less bad,” explains Lester.

For many Peak 65’ers who haven’t saved adequately, making things “less bad” involves resetting retirement expectations as well as assumptions about what is “enough.” By identifying that baseline, as Lester puts it, people can look at how they are spending and where cuts can be made. “The earlier you can start having that conversation with yourself to start making those decisions, the better your long-term outcomes will be,” notes Lester. For some, it might be as simple as cutting streaming services or reassessing the financial help you provide to your adult children, which is something 46% of Peak 65’ers say they do. “Put your own oxygen mask on first,” stresses Lester. “If you do not think you have enough money, you are helping nobody by spending money on them. Because they might not understand the implications [specifically, that they may have to take care of you down the road.]”

For others, cutting spending won’t be enough. In that case, Lester recommends the following:

Consider protected income: If you’re a Peak 65’er who hasn’t saved sufficiently and is concerned about covering basic, monthly expenses, Lester says protected income can help play a role in securing your financial future. “I’m a huge fan of annuitizing a lot if you are under-saved, because you can’t afford to lose what you don’t have,” she says.

Delay taking Social Security: When it comes to Social Security, the longer you can delay taking it, the better. “If you have reason to believe you are likely to live into your 80s, that’s probably a very sensible thing to consider,” notes Lester, who points to part-time income as a way to “bridge that gap more efficiently.”

Reconsider a retirement that includes work: Studies have shown those who stay engaged in the world live happier, healthier lives. Lester encourages those who have under-saved for retirement to think about what they do—or did—for work. What part of that inspires the most joy? “There are ways to think about replicating some of that experience for 10, 20 or 40 hours a week that may be earning minimum wage, but guess what? That icing on top of your cake might be very, very helpful,” she says.

Stay informed with the latest updates on protected income planning.