At Parsec Financial I work as a one of the two tax directors along with my former business partner, Brad Burlingham. Joining Parsec has been a great opportunity and blessing for both of us and a great transition from our years in public accounting and the several years I spent in private banking. We enjoy working with our financial advisors, clients and being part of a growing, dynamic firm. Brad and I are working with our colleagues and planning for the next five to ten years and what Parsec Tax Services will look like when presumably both Brad and I will likely be ready to retire. Planning for the time that you will stop from full-time labor in your lifelong career makes you reflect on retirement.
I turned 65 in March of 2019. It was a very normal and happy birthday, but at 65 you are confronted with the need to consider all your options regarding Medicare. I think of myself as someone who can work through information with some level of competency and arrive at a reasonable conclusion. This assumption is challenged once you get into the tangle of Medicare. Going through this process can certainly make one contemplate mortality. It made me wonder who would help me negotiate Medicare, insurance and health care as I grow older and may become less capable of doing so.
Turning 65 also made me think about financial security, or perhaps to think about it differently than I did at 45. My perspective on what exactly financial security is has evolved over the years. I think financial security in retirement is being able to maintain a reasonable semblance of the cash flow and lifestyle you enjoyed while you were in the “working years.” But there is more to financial security than cash flow. Financial security, in large part, is about being informed, realistic and having a plan to address the reality that you find yourself in regardless of age. I usually find most clients are happier when they know what is going on rather than the alternative, which creates a lot of fear and angst. Some people might need to reduce expenses in retirement, some may need to create some additional income or both. Some may need to plan for the efficient deployment of their wealth.
I recall a news article noting that a retired local TV weatherman and TV personality was identified at a local Ingles bagging groceries. Indeed, this was true, and the retired local celebrity told the Asheville Citizen-TImes reporter that he wanted to make enough bagging groceries to pay his property taxes and that he enjoyed the experience. I am not sure that this guy truly needed to bag groceries, but facing reality is a good thing. Financial security is about being informed and planning accordingly.
Personal appearance at 65 requires some creative and agile thinking. I am bald and my wife tells me she thinks it makes me look younger since there is less white or gray. She is very insightful and sweet, but I wonder if she is biased. Catching an impromptu visual of yourself at age 65 can be weird and can make you reflect on aging and retirement. It is my hope that my retirement years will bring new opportunities and time to serve others, or more opportunities to be with my loved ones. Retirement years may also produce a growing perspective on one’s faith and its essential place in governing your plans, perspectives and relationships.
Considering retirement from one’s full-time work and considering the reality of aging is thought provoking. If you are nearing retirement or already enjoying your retirement, it is a good time to evaluate your financial condition and to make — and carry out — a plan. At Parsec we can help you do just that!
Larry Harris, CPA, CFP®
Director of Tax Services