Many people create a financial plan for when they retire, but they must make sure that it coordinates with their life plan.

Retirement planning always begins with an income plan. How much money do you need to pay your bills? At the lowest level, that is surviving – having a home and all of the expenses that go along with life. The next level is the ability to enjoy the things you like to do.

Many people continue to work after retirement. Sometimes, this is necessary to make ends meet. Some people, however, like to try a new career, start a business or volunteer. Starting a business can require more financial resources than you may think. Not every hobby can become a money maker, and a new business may require more of the time you previously had for other activities.

For many people, retirement has three stages. At the beginning, during the go-go years, you may have a bucket list of things you did not have time to do while you were still working. This may entail travel, golf, camping or some other activity. Many people would like to be a snowbird and go to a warmer climate during the winter.

Many of these things require money, so you may spend more during this phase of retirement. You must have room in your budget for these expenses, and plan for them. This phase may last 10 to 12 years if your health remains good. You need to have more income planned for this time.

The next phase is sometimes known as the slow-go period. You are still relatively healthy, but sitting on the porch or watching softball games is more the norm. Usually, you will spend less money during this period. This is probably the least expensive time in retirement.

The last phase is the no-go years, when your health concerns limit your options. You want to remain close to your doctors and family. You may have to hire someone to do home chores, such as cutting grass and other maintenance issues. You may have to make expensive changes to your house, such as modifying bathrooms, kitchens or putting in ramps. One of the most expensive things during this time period is if you would need long-term care.

Sometimes a child may have to move back in with you to help provide your care. If the child has to give up his or her job, you may have to find a way to compensate them for this help. At some point, you may have to consider downsizing your house to better meet your financial and physical needs. Many seniors want to live close to their families.

You need to make sure you plan for a retirement that could last 20 to 30 years. Very few people can vacation their entire retirement. Whether you have a temporary bridge job or an encore career plan ahead, consider all of the options to make your income match your goals.

Sometimes the transition from full-time retirement, to being finished working, takes many turns and detours. Plan to give yourself as much financial flexibility as possible.

Gary Boatman is a Monessen-based certified financial planner and the author of “Your Financial Compass: Safe passage through the turbulent waters of taxes, income planning and market volatility.”

To submit columns on financial planning or investing, email Rick Shrum at rshrum@observer-reporter.com.

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