Don’t just quit – Retire to something

As a continuation of the Fee-Only Financial Advisor blog sharing group, this month’s post comes to us from Lauren Zangardi Haynes, a Financial Advisor in Richmond, Virginia. She shares her thoughts on how a fee only financial planner can help you with planning for retirement.

Making the leap from a full-time career to retirement can be scary! What if your retirement dreams don’t pan out? Did you know your financial planner is there to help you do more than simply “crunch the numbers?” The core function of a financial planner is to help you achieve your goals. By helping clients align their finances with their values and desires, Fee-Only Financial Planners turn dreams into reality every day.

In this post we will go over three ways financial planners help turn their clients retirement dreams into reality! First, start by clarifying your retirement dream so you are retiring “to something” and not just “from something.” Next, get down in the weeds and figure out the specific steps you need to complete to turn your retirement plans into reality. Finally, get a partner, friend or, dare I say it? A Fee-Only Financial Planner on board to help you stay focused on your goal.

Clarification of goals

Now, you might be thinking – I don’t need help clarifying my goals. I know what my goal is – it’s to retire! (Start a business, write a book, stay home with the kids, etc.)

Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great place to start, but if you’re working with a real financial planner that won’t be where the conversation ends. There is a lot that goes into creating a happy retirement. While you may have started with one big goal (to retire) you might find yourself with a number of smaller goals that will help ensure your retirement success.

Some examples of these smaller goals may include funding an emergency savings account, creating a spending plan you can live with, and perhaps most importantly – mapping out your daily life without the rhythm of work.

Many people don’t fully realize the extent to which their life is wrapped up in work. Work not only takes up the majority of your time but it also provides you with stimulation, companionship (including that co-worker you don’t like) and a sense of purpose. In fact, while you may not love your job, your boss…or your co-workers, they all feed into your sense of self and create structure for your day.

Yes, you may find yourself missing work – at least a little bit.

Seriously, check out the link above if you don’t believe me. You can clarify this dream and turn it into an actionable roadmap for your future. A real financial planner can help you retire “to something” and not simply “from something!”


Once you have clarified your retirement dreams, it’s time to get specific. I think it’s easiest to describe why specificity is important by using an example. Quick quiz: which goal sounds like it’s more likely to happen?

I want to buy a house on the water.June 2017 - Haynes 2


I want to buy a condo in Rocky Mount, VA.

But don’t stop there; you need to be specific on the steps you need to take to get to that big dream. Using our vacation home example some smaller step goals could include:

1. Identify the cost of a vacation home.

2. Figure out much you need to save each month to save up for a down payment (or the entire cost depending on your aversion    to   debt).

3. Set up an automatic monthly transfer from your checking account to an earmarked savings account especially set up for this goal.

A lot of banks and credit unions allow you to “name” your account. Take advantage of this! If you have a special savings account set up for your dream name “Mexican Villa” or “Roman Holiday.” You get the idea.


Get an accountability partner to help you stay on track. If you have someone who shares this dream with you that can help keep you motivated. As Jeff Haden at CBS News points out, we are way more likely to “let ourselves down” than we are to disappoint our teammates, which is why swimmers frequently set their best times during relay races. So find a partner to share your goal with. Maybe it’s your spouse who also dreams of that river house. Or maybe it’s a close friend who wants to spend a month renting a flat in Paris with you.

It’s good to have someone to keep you on track when you feel like cutting out early. Roping in a friend isn’t the only way to stay on track. Feel free to get creative. Vanessa Van Edwards at HuffPost suggests other ways of staying on track such as changing your passwords to reference your goal.

So what does this all mean?

If you only take one thing from this article I hope you will find the courage to get real with yourself about creating the best version of your life. Name that goal, get specific and work with a fiduciary adviser who can help you retire to something!

About the Author

Fee Only CFP® Financial Planner in Richmond and Williamsburg, VA Lauren Zangardi Haynes, of Evolution Advisers, provides investment management and financial planning as a fiduciary. She also writes about money for families with kids at home at Words on Wealth.