How Are The Five Phases of Retirement like Golf? – Finger Financial Five #87


“Knowledge of the path cannot be substituted for putting one foot in front of the other.” – M.C. Richards

The 5 phases of retirement are like golf.

You prepare to retire like you learn to play golf.  You save, invest and work with a retirement planner in the same way you buy clubs, hit balls and take lessons from a pro. 

The Retirement Transition is the first phase.  Some of the things to think about are:

  • Can you afford the lifestyle you want?  In golf-speak, this means being able to afford the greens fee.  Obviously, it is important to have a retirement plan that supports your lifestyle on and off the course.  To that point, you may want to play Augusta National, but you might not be able to.  Remember to keep things realistic. 
  • What city do you want to live and play in? Are you going to relocate? If so, click here for a relocation checklist. 
  • How will you spend your daily time on and off the course?  Think about who you will have breakfast and dinner with.  Not everyone important in your life will (or should be) a golfer — social connections of various kinds are important for your well-being. 

Getting through that retirement transition is important in order to:

  • Maximize your Social Security benefits for you and your spouse.  This is like getting the right shaft for your swing.  
  • Consider Roth conversions.  This is like knowing to hit the ball high when you have the wind at your back.
  • Know when to use a Donor Advised Fund or do Qualified Charitable Distributions.  Know the local rules for the course you play (like a free drop from the flower bed behind 18 green at the Dunes Golf and Beach Club). 
  • If you have low cost basis stock in your company’s 401k plan, you might be able to take advantage of Net unrealized appreciation (NUA) by moving stock from the 401k plan in a tax-advantaged way. This is like hitting the ball low when facing a headwind.  

After the transition, you finally get to retirement’s first tee: the Leisure Phase.

This is where you get to do all of the things you’ve always wanted to do. The leisure phase is like a permanent vacation; a lifetime of Saturdays. Your calendar is empty.  This presents many opportunities, but also poses potential dangers.

You can use the leisure phase of retirement to travel, read or work on the home project you have been putting off.  Take up a new hobby.  Perhaps golf. Might be nice, right? 

Left unchecked, you may unknowingly transition into the Languishing Phase of retirement.  Many people who are newly retired lose a sense of identity and purpose without their work life.  Work usually provides mental stimulation and meaningful relationships. A languishing phase would be like playing golf alone and with no rules. Even shooting your best round ever wouldn’t feel rewarding. 

Does this mean you can’t have purpose, meaning and mental stimulation in retirement?  Of course not.  But it could mean you don’t get retirement exactly right the first time. 

The number one thing retirees do is go back to work. But they go back on their own terms. They do what they love and what they are good at.  Maybe they work 3-4 days a week instead of 5.  Maybe they work remotely for part of the month or take extended vacations throughout the year 

They are taking a “retirement rain check” and heading back to the driving range to work on their game. They are in the Learning Phase of retirement and it has many benefits.  It sharpens the mind, stretches money out and gets your feet settled, so you can figure out what you really want to do and how you want to spend one of the great parts of your life!

This is when you start to feel more confident and step back onto the first tee. 

You give retirement another try.  

Now you shape your retirement routine.  Get into groups of people who do things you like or have always wanted to try — bridge, mahjong or, of course, golf!

Take your pick because it’s your retirement!  You can learn a second language.  Take an online class on about any subject you can imagine. Join civic clubs and make an impact in the community.  You can take care of grandchildren or mentor a business owner in your area of expertise

Find joy in the game. No judgment; just playing.  You know how you play and who you are with are far more important that the score.

Congratulations, you are now in the Living your Best Life phase.

Here is some Live Your Best Life extra credit (shots):

Let me know if you have any questions. Feel free to email me at [email protected] or CLICK HERE for a phone appointment.

On the lighter side, I got a to-go order from the Bagel Factory early this week. Walking to my car, I heard the wonderful song Don’t Stop Believing by Journey blasting from a car parked on my left. The guy had his window down and was wearing his hat sideways.  He was from a generation that came along well after the song was released. He turned and looked at me. I nodded in approval that he was playing such a good song and smiled. He nodded in acceptance and smiled showing his diamond studded teeth. We did not speak a word at that moment, but we said a lot. 

We are way more alike than we are different. We are playing the same game. 

I wish you well,


Finger Financial Five – 5 points in 5 minutes or less – is to provide you with a weekly shot of useful financial information.  My intention is to share principles, so you will have more clarity and peace and make better financial decisions.

Investment advice offered through Stratos Wealth Advisors, LLC, a registered investment advisor; DBA Riverbend Wealth Management.

This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information and provided by Riverbend Wealth Management. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Stratos Wealth Partners and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.

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