Retiring Solo: How Linda Prepared with Savant’s Help
You see the ads all the time – a couple in their golden years, walking on the beach, living their best lives in retirement. But what about those who enter retirement widowed, divorced, or never married? A 2021 report from the U.S. Administration on Aging found that more than half of women and nearly a third of men over 65 fall into this category. Without a spouse or partner, those who retire solo often worry about being able to retire comfortably on their own. That was the case for Linda, who turned to Savant to Savant advisors Don Duncan, CFP®, CFA®, CPA/PFS, SEP, MBA, and Cory Buehler, CFP®, CRPS®, CPFA, for help.
Linda’s Perspective: “I needed long-term, big-picture thinking.”
When Linda retired at age 70, she knew there was no turning back. “I had been stretching out retirement for quite a while, but I knew I was getting close. And I’m divorced, so single. I had worked really hard in the high-tech industry, and knew that once I quit working, I couldn’t go back to my job in sales,” she said.
Linda wasn’t new to working with an advisor, but her experience hadn’t always been positive. “I had worked with a stockbroker-like planner, who never called unless he wanted something, and that wasn’t working for me,” she said. “So I thought, you know what? I need somebody who thinks more long-term and big-picture, and really thinks about me and my investments.”
Linda began working with Savant about seven years before retiring, and knew she needed structure and a plan. “I had no financial background, but I couldn’t afford to lose my nest egg,” Linda says. “My previous advisors had loaded me up with annuities, and I needed to understand what that meant. Savant did a full analysis of my situation and explained it to me in a way that made sense. They even helped me call the annuity company to try to get answers to my questions.”
Collaborating to Reduce Uncertainty
“We kept getting different answers every time we called,” said Cory Buehler, who contacted the annuity company with Linda. “Then we finally reached someone who gave us what we needed to help Linda make an informed decision. Not all annuities are good, but not all are bad, either. We just wanted to make sure we understood them. We really tried to step into Linda’s shoes to make sure she’d have a high degree of certainty that she could maintain or enhance her lifestyle in retirement,” he added.
Together, Cory and Linda called her annuity company six times over a three-month period. On one of their early calls, the insurance company recommended annuitizing the contract, which would give Linda regular monthly payments. But the two weren’t satisfied with that recommendation, and decided to dig deeper into the issue.
Linda’s annuity had a guaranteed minimum income benefit (GMIB) rider that included a death benefit. “After a few more calls, one representative recommended not annuitizing the contract, and to instead enact the GMIB rider,” Cory recalls. “This resulted in higher monthly payments for Linda that did not impact the income base of her policy. Now, when her rider account value finally drops to zero, she will then be able to annuitize the income base. Essentially, she’s receiving larger payments during the first nine or 10 years of her withdrawals until she has to annuitize the income base amount,” Cory adds.
“If I had not had Cory by my side, I would have made a bad financial decision,” says Linda, “and I respect that, because I believe a lot of financial planners would not have done what Cory did.”
In addition to working with Cory and Don Duncan, Linda has also worked with Savant Tax & Consulting and received assistance from Savant’s estate planning team. “I was on my fourth will,” says Linda, “and I needed to update all of my beneficiaries. It’s nice having a one-stop shop where everyone is converging to help meet my needs.”
Now that she’s retired, Linda is frequently on the go. “I’m taking three or four trips a year, taking classes, playing bridge, and started to play golf, tennis, and pickleball again,” she says. “I’m a lifelong learner, and I think that’s why I appreciate working with Savant. I enjoy watching the webinars and educating myself, because I want to understand the big picture,” she adds.
But most of all, Linda enjoys the partnership she has with Don and Cory. “Don really understands not only the financial side, but also is super comfortable with technology. And I like that Cory is confident enough to go to Don when he wants a second opinion, and that they collaborate on my behalf. That speaks volumes to me. And it helps give me peace of mind so I can finally enjoy my retirement.”
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