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Retirement Planning Means More Than Saving In Your 401K

Most Americans don’t have a retirement plan, even the ones who max out their 401(k)s.

The meaning of retirement has been reshaped as people live longer, healthier lives. Building a nest egg is essential, but that alone isn’t the same thing as mapping out what to pursue in your post-career decades. Retirement coaches suggest putting in the work of setting priorities and boundaries for the future can help prevent the common stumbles made by new retirees.

New retirees who neglect to plan can flounder without the structure of their careers, unsure how to fill their days, some retirees and advisers say. Their social connections may dwindle suddenly, and those endless rounds of golf or hours spent babysitting the grandchildren turn out not to be as relaxing or fulfilling as envisioned.

It takes about two years to settle into retirement, research suggests. Among those who have been retired for less than two years, 46% struggled to find their new purpose, according to a study this year by retirement think tank Age Wave and brokerage Edward Jones. Among the challenges they face, 36% said they mentioned the difficulty in learning how to organize their time, while 27% reported feeling out of sync with their unretired partner or friends.

The uncertainty and anxiety around this life transition has led some to turn to retirement coaches to help them adjust to the shifting schedules and priorities. These coaches, which typically charge between $150 and $300 hourly, sometimes have backgrounds in social work or human resources, though others have no formal training.

“People spend more time planning a two-week vacation than a lifetime of retirement. You need a thoughtful plan,” said Jaye Smith, a retirement coach and co-founder of Reboot Partners LLC.

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