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Lifestyle Upgrade

The key to stress-free retirement living is having your plans—and finances—in order.
| |Photography Courtesy of Highland Springs and CC Young

There’s a lot to love about today’s retirement living options, and it’s fun to dream about all the places to see and activities to enjoy once a work-filled schedule becomes one filled with nothing but R&R. Of course, a price tag will be attached to these experiences—from traveling the world to the senior living community you choose. For those who are nearing retirement age, it’s imperative to begin researching living options and to work with a financial planner so you know how much you’ll need to afford it. By the year 2034, the U.S. census projects that older adults will outnumber children for the first time in history, and from 2024 to 2039, the population in the U.S. of those age 75 and older will increase from 20 million to 45 million. One of the biggest challenges for this group during their retirement years will be affordability, which is why proper research, planning, and budgeting cannot be delayed. Once a plan is in place, retirement can be something to look forward to rather than fear.

Retirement Redefined

At the beginning of one’s career, retirement seems so far away that it’s difficult to envision, which means big-ticket items often take priority over saving for retirement—paying off student loans, weddings, traveling, buying a home, and building the kids’ college funds among them. Those in good health who have managed to plan and save for retirement in between life’s milestones have a good shot at the opportunity to design and enjoy their retirement exactly as they wish. 

Baby Boomers are next in line to make the move to senior living communities, with Gen X right behind them. Whether these communities are rebranding, remodeling, or in development, they are well positioned to serve new generations of residents who have more defined and vocal demands about how they want their senior years to look; they are tech-savvy, educated, well-traveled, and accustomed to service and choice.

CC Young, a senior living community in Dallas, has answered the demand of today’s seniors who want a retirement experience unlike what their parents and grandparents experienced. Above all, they want choice, and CC Young has delivered this in numerous ways, including The Point & Pavilion. The Point is a 20,000-square-foot center of activity for CC Young residents and the public “age 55 and forward.” An art gallery, café, meditation center, chapel, fitness center, library, auditorium—these are just a few of the on-site perks to be enjoyed. For nonresidents, an annual membership fee allows access to everything offered at The Point. 

“Everything you can imagine is offered here. Exercise classes, from Zumba, Tai Chi, and HIIT training to Aqua Boot Camp with underwater cycling at the indoor pool, and even lectures by Fulbright scholars,” says Brian Parman, director of The Point. “We offer technology classes for mature adults to discover how to program and use an Apple watches and other technology, such as ordering rideshare for errands. The campus also has a resident-operated television station. The Ticket radio station was just here broadcasting during our weekly community happy hour. We have two art gallery spaces that feature works by both resident and local artists and writing contests for residents and nonresidents. Our goal is to curate whole-person wellness opportunities for mature adults and provide them with what they need to live out their dreams and interests. We want to change the paradigm about senior living. For us, it’s about thriving and finding passions you didn’t know you had while having fun along the way.”

Highland Springs, a senior living community in North Dallas, continues to grow and expand its amenities for the same reason—consumer demand. A new residential building, Uptown Park, will be open in the fall. The Eastside Village Clubhouse just opened, and the all-new Cypress Landing building filled quickly. The community just added its eighth restaurant, a new pickleball court, and an updated woodworking shop. “We are seeing a strong demand for an active, engaged lifestyle,” says Christina Christie, director of sales. “Folks are attracted to a wide scope of services and amenities, and more younger seniors are moving in because they are ready to be free of the upkeep and maintenance of their homes. They want to age and place and simply enjoy. We also have people who move here in their 80s. They have enjoyed their longtime homes but are ready to have more social connections. We always encourage making the decision about moving to a senior living community before you have to, rather than being reactive to a situation. You want plenty of time to enjoy all the benefits and services offered.”

retirement financing

Money Matters

Planning for retirement involves much more than deciding where you will travel or researching senior living options. It also involves determining how much you need to save to eventually afford it all. Although most people understand the importance of saving and investing as early as possible, urgency isn’t always top of mind in one’s 20s and 30s because retirement age seems so far away. As the decades pass, suddenly saving for retirement becomes a priority. Whether you’re unsure you have saved enough, want to invest more, or need to catch up as your retirement age nears, partnering with a financial planner who can expertly guide you toward meeting your retirement goals is crucial.

“I never cease to be amazed by how many people are in their highest earning years and have been great savers—but have a complete lack of direction and plan—or who are high income but under-funded,” says Jimmy Zimmerman, a partner with Beaird Harris Wealth Management. “If you don’t know what direction to aim your arrow, you aren’t saving with a purpose. We are here to lead them through that process. For married couples, we really like to get both spouses involved in the discussion to determine what they want for their future lives then determine how they can prioritize paying for these things.”

Tai Chu, a wealth manager with Beaird Harris, says in many households, one partner is the “money person”—the one making most of the financial decisions—and the other partner trusts them to do so. In a perfect world, this could work, but sometimes life happens. Should the partner making the financial decisions pass away or become unable to make financial and estate planning decisions, the other spouse needs to be informed enough to confidently step in and continue the plan without having to learn a new financial landscape on their own. 

“We have experienced a lot of life’s unexpected moments in this industry,” Chu says. “In many cases, clients may find themselves ill-equipped to manage these situations, yet they are familiar to us, which enables us to effectively guide them through these challenging times by offering advice on which accounts to use, the tax implications, and other important matters, alleviating the need for them to navigate everything on their own. This is also why it’s important to plan early. We can point out what could potentially happen. We emphasize this quite a bit with our cilents so that we cover all the bases.”

For aging couples, joint decision-making in financial matters, combined with comprehensive estate planning and organizational strategies, is important when working toward securing a stable and fulfilling future. By actively involving both partners and seeking support from a knowledgeable advisor, couples can navigate the complexities of aging with confidence, ensuring peace of mind. Involving a financial advisor can streamline these efforts, providing guidance on comprehensive planning, facilitating conversations between spouses and adult children, and offering support in organizing financial affairs and estate plans, ensuring a legacy that reflects their wishes and values.

Uncoupled? Retirement Saving Advice for Solo Agers

Whether single by choice later in life or divorced or widowed, there are no guarantees that you’ll be planning your retirement alongside someone else.  The number of solo agers in the U.S. is on the rise. When this growing demographic works with their financial advisors, in addition to discussing plans and savings, advisors are urging them to designate someone who can advocate for them should the need arise. 

“Not every retiree has a strong support system,” says Grant a Certified Financial Planner™ with Perryman Financial Advisory. “Those who don’t have children or have children who don’t live locally often need someone who can step in and help make important decisions when it comes to healthcare and finances in retirement.”

Grant encourages her clients who are solo agers to begin building a community as early as possible—those who may not be family but are considered family. “Part of this involves making friends of different ages. Friends who are younger can step in and be your advocate, if needed,” she says. “Most people realize they will not always want to live alone or won’t be able to live alone, and at some point, they may not want to write their own checks or handle their own bills. Hiring a bookkeeping assistant or CPA is another idea. People are living longer, and many are outliving a lot of their family members. We have a whole generation of men and women who didn’t marry or didn’t have children. The generation before us knew that if they couldn’t care for themselves in their senior years, their children would. This isn’t the case for everyone anymore, which is why building a community of friendship and designating a financial advocate early is important.”

An experienced financial planner will look at a client’s assets and personal situation holistically, tailoring a plan that suits his or her individual needs. “If you haven’t, now is a good time to decide the planner you want to work with it,” Grant says. “If you are diligent, you can put away a lot of money to make your retirement more enjoyable, and it begins with assembling a team working on your behalf.”