Ep. 119 – Wine Down – Tips and Lessons Learned for Retirement Planning

How prepared are you for your retirement? As you get closer to retirement, it is important that you think about how things are going to pan out for you during that period.  

In this episode of the Secure Your Retirement podcast, we have Jay and Maureen Hartford to give a perspective on how to approach the retirement period. They describe what they did right and what they didn’t, and how being agile with their plan served them.

Listen in to learn the importance of developing relationships and connections that you will continue interacting with after you retire.

In this episode, find out:

·      Think of where you want to live and the lifestyle you want to live.

·      Be agile and flexible to any possible changes that might happen before/during your retirement period.

·      Why they decided to settle in Raleigh and not any other city in the country.

·      Why they started a consultant-type business after retirement for connection purposes.

·      They share their love for travel and exploring new places.

·      How it worked out for Jay to retire 12 years before Maureen did.

·      Think of the social networks you want to continue once you stop working.

·      Start engaging an estate attorney for your estate planning early on in your retirement journey.

·      Think of a certain healthcare document and your long-term healthcare insurance.

·      The importance of having retirement goals and plans written down.

·      How to prepare and have the hard and emotional conversations that surround the end of life.  

Tweetable Quotes:

·      “You better be prepared to change your plans, you better be agile, and you better think about things carefully as you go along because you’re probably going to want to adjust.”– Jay Hartford

·      “It helps if you write down your retirement goals and start planning for them.”– Maureen Hartford

Book Mentioned:

·      Guide to the Great Beyond by Jane Brody


If you are in or nearing retirement and you want to gain clarity on what questions you should be asking, learn what the biggest retirement myths are, and identify what you can do to achieve peace of mind for your retirement, get started today by requesting our complimentary video course, Four Steps to Secure Your Retirement!

To access the course, simply visit POMWealth.net/podcast.

Here’s the Full Transcript:

Radon Stancil:Welcome everyone to our podcast. Today is our wine down, which we are always excited about the wine down, but today we have special guests. We don’t normally get to have people in with us on the podcast and so we’re either doing it through Zoom or whatever, but today we actually have them live here with us in our little podcast studio setup, but we have with us, Jay and Maureen Hartford. So guys, thank you so much for coming in and talking with us today.  
Maureen:Of course.  
Jay:It’s our pleasure, nice to be here.  
Radon Stancil:Well, thank you. Before we get into this conversation we’re going to have around retirement, we’ve got to handle the important stuff and that’s what wine we’re drinking. So, Morgan, could you let us know about the wine?  
Morgan:This is Kerner, which is a white grape variety. It’s known mostly in Germany, but also it’s popular in Italy and it’s similar to a Riesling [inaudible] like a Riesling, but I haven’t even had a chance to sip it yet.  
Murs Tariq:Maureen, what would you say your initial thought is on the wine? Have you had a glass or a sip yet? Not a glass yet.  
Maureen:It’s crisper than most Rieslings. I like it.  
Morgan:Yeah, I’ll have to try it.  
Radon Stancil:So let me kind of give a little bit of a setup here as to why we reached out to Maureen and Jay about coming in. Murs and I, in our practice, we work with individuals that are within 10 years of retirement and all the way through retirement. So we talk about all these things that you got to do to get ready for retirement and then there’s lots of things you got to do throughout to have a good successful retirement, but the real important stuff is that stuff you do probably within that 10 year range of retirement. We were having a conversation one day with Jay in particular and he said, “I’m way down the road in retirement”! And so we said, wait a minute, that’d be a great episode, if we can talk to somebody who’s been retired for some time and maybe get a little bit of their insights. Let me ask you this. What year did you retire, Jay?  
Jay:I retired in 1999 when we moved down here from Michigan.  
Radon Stancil:So 1999. When we’re recording this, that’s almost 22 years of retirement. That’s great. And then Maureen, when did you retire?  
Maureen:I retired in 2011.  
Radon Stancil:So you’re sitting on 10 years of retirement. Can we go back in time a little bit, if you don’t mind. Give us what you went through, maybe some of the steps that you started thinking about before you actually made that commitment to say I’m going to retire, and some of the thought processes that you went through, and maybe as you think back on that and share that story with us, maybe anything that you could share of mistakes or positives or whatever it might be?  
Jay:I think that the first thing that we started thinking about was where are you going to live? Where do you think you want to move to when you retire? That seems to occupy a lot of people’s minds in addition to the other things that they ought to be doing.  
 We were looking at Hilton Head. Maureen turned 50 and we went to Hilton Head for her birthday and we fell in love with the place. So we thought, oh, this is going to be great. We’re going to move to a nice warm climate. It’s a beautiful place. We got all wrapped up in it. We joined a country club. We bought a boat. We were going to live the high life.  
Maureen:We bought a house.  
Jay:We bought a condo. We later traded that condo in. I don’t know exactly how this worked, but we got the attorneys together and we traded it in on a nice house, right there on Braddock Cove, which is right near a place that a lot of people have heard of, The Salty Dog. You see those t-shirts.  
Murs Tariq:I’ve got the t-shirt.  
Jay:Do you have the t-shirt?  
Murs Tariq:It definitely doesn’t fit anymore but I have the t-shirt.  
Jay:That’s what we decided. And so we lived there for about almost 10 years, not live there, but vacationed there. It’s at that time that we ran into trouble. After we had decided that was where we’re going to live, we began to realize the 2008 crisis hit. This isn’t going to work out as well. Prices have gone crazy on homes. They’ve dropped precipitously, all kinds of things. The flood insurance was going skyrocketing. And so that was going to impact our finances.  
Maureen:And Jay worried about hurricanes.  
Jay:I didn’t like the idea of hurricanes visiting us. So anyway, a lesson for people is, you better be prepared to change your plans. You better be agile and you better think about things carefully as you go along, because you’re probably going to want to adjust.  
Maureen:Things that sounds wonderful when you’re working, in a very laid back environment, not much happening, go to the beach, don’t have the same appeal when you don’t have to go to work. People still say to me, well, “what are you going to do for the weekend?” I’m like, “eh, the weekend isn’t really much different than the week”. And that mentality, we actually lived down there for four months and it was like, what are we going to do today? There was no life of the mind there, if you know what I mean. There wasn’t NC state and Carolina and Duke doing programs.  
Jay:And we watched the traffic grows substantially. The place changed over time. Traffic was awful. I mean, at five to eight (07:55) in the morning, all the people that were taking care of the homes, either construction or the maintenance type people or the restaurant workers, those people were in a giant traffic jam in the morning trying to get on the island and a giant traffic jam at night, trying to get off the island.  
 The whole place just sort of changed. And we said this isn’t going to work. We started to pay more attention in healthcare too. Healthcare is a big issue for retirees. So anyone that’s…  
Murs Tariq:Yeah. I think this is great because Radon and I, we talk all the time about, when we’re talking about these retirement financial plans and how we build these out, we never say that they’re set in stone and we often times say that, hey, when you do retire, it’s going to take a few years before you actually feel like you’re comfortable in retirement. Whether that’s figuring out your expenses or figuring out where you want to be, or figuring out what you want to do – that takes quite a bit of time. So, how did you decide then to stay in Raleigh or was it you were moving down to Raleigh or were you already in Raleigh at this point?  
Jay:We were already in Raleigh.  
Murs Tariq:Other than the fact that I would say it’s one of the best cities in the country and even more so now than back then, what was the drawing factor rather than looking at maybe the West Coast or something like that?  
Jay:There were two biggies and one is healthcare. This area has probably some of the best healthcare in the nation. With three different hospitals competing with each other – Duke, UNC, and it’s a big, huge issue and it’s great here for healthcare. Then there’s also the people and, what’s the word, the…  
Maureen:Social environment…  
Jay:Social, but also the entertainment. It’s more than just entertainment. I mean, it’s got the museum of art, it’s got culture, it’s a lot of really, really smart people here that have decided to stay here, that’s the big difference. That’s a huge difference.  
Maureen:I think the life of the mind, as I mentioned before, you can’t underestimate that in retirement. Keeping you intellectually engaged is important, you have to find ways to make that happen.  
Radon Stancil:Yeah. You know, we were talking just briefly before we started this discussion and I think something that we talk about a lot with folks is, sometimes people go into this idea of I’m going to retire, but then they retire and they go, well, now what I’m going to do? You kind of mentioned that earlier. Like I, well, I don’t really have the things to do that I was doing before when I was working so now life is different. I know with you two, that you did decide after retirement to do a consulting type business.  
Maureen:We did.  
Radon Stancil:And so could you tell us how that, maybe the why, and maybe even the pros and cons of that, if there are any?  
Maureen:We had a colleague and in fact, he was on my board and he was doing presidential searches for colleges. He first asked Jay to join him and then when I retired, he asked me to join him. So the three of us formed a small company and he was getting tired of traveling so we did more of the traveling and we did it for about six years. It was fun. It kept us connected with people. We could do a lot of the work from our home office and traveled to meet boards. It was fun. And then the boards got really political and it became less fun.  
Jay:It became less fun. We closed it down in 2017. It became much less fun and so we decided to get out of it.  
Maureen:It wasn’t for the money. It was for staying connected to colleagues.  
Jay:Yeah. And the travel.  
Morgan:And the travel, I was going to say.  
Jay:Visited some really interesting places. Yeah. That was good.  
Murs Tariq:Yeah. We do see that all the time someone could work for a company for years and years and years, and then they build up this group of connections that they’ve gotten, whether they were in a situation where they got laid off or whether they just decided I’m going to retire early, and then they retire. And they’re like, well, I don’t like retirement. I’m going to go back and use my skills set, but they do a consulting job rather than trying to go find another W2 type of job.  
 Oftentimes it works out that they end up making a little bit more than they were, or they have a way more flexible schedule than they did. And they’re ultimately a little bit happier. And then, like you guys said, you kind of call the shots. Hey, this has run its course and now we’re going to shut it down. Now we’re going to hit that next phase of retirement.  
 So what does the next phase of retirement look like for you guys since you’ve shut it down and you’re not so involved in the consulting work that you did?  
 I know we talked to you guys a couple months, maybe a month ago about a massive trip that you guys took, and we don’t need to get down into the details about it, but what’s going on since you’ve shut down the company?  
Maureen:We do travel.  
Jay:We do like to travel.  
Maureen:And somebody will frequently say, “oh, I’m not interested”. But if I put the details together, it’s interesting… We’ve done a lot of cruises. We’re now focusing on hiking in national parks and in even the state parks. We just spent a day up at Hanging Rock State Park, which is interesting because it’s very vertical. It’s not a flat hike. And it adds to the benefit. It keeps us more in shape so that we’re able to enjoy things like that.  
Jay:We combined a trip to go to Seattle also to see our granddaughter graduate and decided to stay there for five days, but then to go to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and visit that place. And it’s gorgeous and fun. And then we went to…  
Maureen:We did the state parks, the National and the Tetons and the Yellowstone.  
Jay:Yellowstone had… Six inches of snow at Yellowstone in May. It’s hard to, by the way, take a cardboard box and scrape snow off your car! Anyway. And then we drove out of the park and we drove 1500 miles to South Dakota and really had fun there at Rapid City. We spent quite a bit of time there and then flew home. And that was a great trip. That was a lot of fun.  
Maureen:Our next trip is a cruise.  
Radon Stancil:Oh, fantastic.  
Maureen:We’re trying, we think.  
Radon Stancil:Yeah. So I got a question for you and this is not uncommon by the way, because of who we work with, to see this, I would say very often, but based on what you said is that you retired, Jay, I guess it was about 12 years prior to Maureen. So could you tell us a little bit about how that dynamic is? One retires, the other one’s not retired, they’re still working. Maybe how that was and maybe some advice for our listeners that might be going down that path.  
Jay:One of the big reasons, I had several bouts with cancer, so I was ready to retire. When we left Michigan, I said I’m going to retire, but the other thing is, the circumstances were really interesting because I became the first gentleman at Meredith State College and I used to interact with the board and I would spend time with the business people. Then it was a lot of entertaining. And then of course there was a lot of golf to play. Somebody had to do it!  
Morgan:You poor thing! [crosstalk]  
Jay:We actually had a ball. We lived in that great big house. We didn’t have to do anything, the maintenance was all taken care of. Maureen enjoyed the job.  
Maureen:I did.  
Jay:So the circumstances are kind of different and I was very active. So it worked out really well. We probably had fewer arguments than we do now.  
Maureen:The hardest thing – we share an office, we have a partner desk, and there are times when I want a wall that I can just close. It was awful when hen we were consulting because [inaudible] would be, “can you do this? Can you…”  
 “I’m not your secretary! I’m your partner!”  
Jay:Yeah, that was a trial.  
Maureen:I’m still the tech support in the house, which is a problem. I think another thing for people to think about as they’re preparing, is what are your social networks that will continue once you stop working?  
 So many of us are so vested in our work that we don’t have contacts outside of work. When you retire and everybody else that you interact with is still working, the dynamics change. So what do you put together? It’s not something that can happen by accident – you have to work on developing relationships and people that you connect with. I got very involved in working at Rex Hospital as a volunteer and my dog and I are a therapy team at Rex. That’s been a really good experience for me. Jay volunteered there too.  
Jay:Yeah. I was an escort for about six years and that was enjoyable. You meet a lot of people, you take them to different places in the hospital, you get lost while wandering around. It was fun. I enjoyed it.  
Maureen:And I’m in two book clubs, a card group, a golf group, and then do the work at the hospital. So I stay pretty busy.  
Murs Tariq:Well, I think that’s great. That was a great piece of advice. For our average listener, they’re kind of in that zone of either they’re right at retirement, or they’re getting close to retirement. So you guys have done a fantastic job and you, like Jay said a long time ago, you’re well into it and more than not, you’ve figured it out and you’re enjoying it to a great degree.  
 So if you were to say, look back in your early fifties, mid fifties, your sixties, is there any advice that you’ve got out there for someone that is approaching that age or approaching that decision as things to think about or things that you guys wish you may have done differently? Anything out there that you could provide for us?  
Jay:I think one thing is, we prepared some estate plans and we did it because we were working with a bank, for instance, and I didn’t think they did a very good job. I even think our personal attorney did one for us. That really didn’t even cover the basis as it should have. It wasn’t until we worked with you guys that you had somebody that you recommended and they do a whale of a good job. I would get somebody that’s definitely an estate attorney to address your problems. I would do that sooner than we did.  
 That’s something you probably want to start thinking about pretty quickly. That’s really important. The healthcare part of it is really important. There’s one element of that healthcare problem that is overlooked – that’s a thing called MOST, and it’s a Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment after you hit an emergency room. We learned that you need to have that with your physician and you need to have it on your chest when you get in the ambulance so that people know what it is you want. Do not resuscitate, or do you want to be resuscitated?  
 What is it you want? What is it you don’t want? And you clearly have that readily available when you have to go to the hospital. If you can’t speak, you don’t want to get in. And even, if you can speak, you don’t want to get in an ethical argument with the physician who wants to keep people alive versus what you may want and that’s important.  
Radon Stancil:That’s very interesting. You know why? Because I just took my mom to the hospital. She had a scenario. My mom is 83 and I took her to the hospital and I’d never had an [inaudible]. So what’s funny is my mom, I support and work with her quite a bit, but anyway, we go in and my mom was not in any kind of bad condition that way. She just had some, a couple of scenarios, but so it was not a bad ordeal that we were there. It was just something we need to have checked out.  
 And the doctor says, “Mrs. Stancil, if something happens, do you, and we need to, do you want us to resuscitate you?” And I had never heard that question. My mom looked at me and she goes, “well, Radon, what do you think?” And I’m like, “I’m not answering this question!” What am I supposed to say, mom? Yeah, don’t resuscitate her. Whatever you do, just let her.  
Jay:That’s exactly right. [inaudible]  
Radon Stancil:And I’m like, no. I said, mom, I think, yes, unless there’s something here bigger, let’s go ahead and resuscitate her. And my mom was like, “thank you. I love you too, Radon.”  
Jay:Yeah. People don’t realize though that usually that estate plan and that healthcare document is somewhere in your trunk or someplace so that when you hit the hospital, that’s not accessible. And the doctors win the argument, generally, if you’re not careful.  
Maureen:The other thing I would say is, it’s in your fifties and sixties, that you should be buying long-term health insurance, and…  
Jay:Or earlier.  
Maureen:Or earlier. It’s astonishing how much care costs. My mother was in a care home. She did not have long-term healthcare insurance, and it was 10,000 a month. You think of, even if people have a fair amount put aside, if you were in for years, how long that would last.  
 It’s an important decision to make and people are living longer. You really need to think about it. If you get it young enough, it’s not that expensive.  
Radon Stancil:So we were just having a conversation with a client about housing in all essence. This person was looking at what’s called a CCRC, a Continuous Care Retirement Community.  
 We had a conversation with some folks that do retirement planning from a living perspective, not financial, like what we do, and they said, the number one thing is that they find that people need to really talk about and decide what they want to do, is housing. What are you going to do? So now that you’re into retirement for some years, what has been your conversation around housing and where are you going to live? And what’s your thoughts on that?  
Jay:One of the first traps you get into is answering the question, well, where do you want to die? You want to die in your home? Or do you want to die in some healthcare facility? I’ve got a fear of being in a nursing home and that scares the daylights out of me. So I’d be the first one to say, don’t resuscitate. A good way to go would be a heart attack, rather than in a nursing home. And now I forget the question you asked.  
Morgan:Where you would live…  
Radon Stancil:Have you talked about, first, when I talk about housing, you know what I’m saying is like, some people say, I don’t want to be in a two-story home anymore. I want to be in a ranch, or I want to have this type of… I want low maintenance. I want to make sure that we don’t have to have the yard care or whatever those things might be. I’m curious as you’ve built throughout this retirement, what’s been your conversation around housing?  
Maureen:We’ve talked a lot. In fact, when my mother passed away, we talked about when she started downhill was when she fell down steps and we looked at each other and we had a massive flight of steps and we had big high ceilings and just a giant dramatic stairway. And we looked at and went, that’s not going to work.  
 Two years ago, we moved into a brand new ranch. Everything on one level and that was a good decision and the Homeowners’ Association takes care of the yard and the shrubs. So it’s not quite totally maintenance-free, but it’s much closer than we were before. And our next step is, we’re looking at a CCRC also.  
 For me, it feels like a big commitment because I’m 73 and my mother lived to be 93, my grandmother lived to be 99. I could be talking about 25 years somewhere. That’s a bigger commitment most people think about when they’re moving into more… [crosstalk]  
Jay:I got both of my parents die of heart attacks. My dad at 57, my mother at 78. So I don’t share that same view. I feel like I’m ready to go out the door at any moment.  
Murs Tariq:Well, because of the day that we live in and the medical care that we have and the technology that we have, that we didn’t have back when your parents passed, they say, you can’t really base it off of your parents anymore. And you’re key to that. You’re way past their age. And so, these are things that we have to plan for. And sometimes they’re not fun conversations, sometimes they can put a little bit of strain between us because one wants one thing and the other wants the other thing.  
 The client we just talked to, we had that same issue. One wanted to go into the CCRC. The other said, I just don’t want to be in it at all, because it has a stigma of eventually we’re going to be in assisted living. But eventually they worked through it and said, okay. They eventually said, yes, this makes sense. And that conversation was covered. And now it’s like, okay, well now what do we do? Where do we go? And so I think the moral is you take things one step at a time.  
Maureen:And things change.  
Jay:And things change.  
Murs Tariq:All the time.  
Maureen:I think one of the things I would say to people getting closer to retirement is, what are your goals for retirement? Some people think they might want to run a book or start a totally new career or climb all the major mountains in North America.  
 It helps if you write that down and begin to plan for it. We didn’t have that ambitious goal. Our goals were pretty simple, we wanted to enjoy retirement with financial security. We wanted to travel and be active and we wanted to make sure that as we got older, we weren’t a burden to our kids. That’s the commitment we made to them is, you’re not going to have to worry about us financially, as we get older.  
Jay:One of the tough parts of this is actually having a really good conversation with the kids and that’s really hard for some people. They don’t want talk about this and the kids don’t want to talk about it.  
 It’s a really important piece of it. You’ve got to level with them. You’ve got to be honest there, you got to talk about it and that’s missed by a lot of people. There’s some good books about that, by the way. I’ve got one right here and I’ve got a friend that’s dying of cancer. This is a book about the Great Beyond and how you plan for it. So I picked up the book so I could have a conversation with him and it’s really good, particularly about the emotional part of it.  
 Later that’s something.  
Radon Stancil:What’s the title of the book?  
Jay:This is one of many, by the way, that are out there, but this is Jane Brody’s Guide to the Great Beyond and it’s not only a practical primer on preparing medically and legally, but it’s also emotionally, how you get the family together and actually having a discussion about that.  
Morgan:Starting those conversations that nobody really wants to have.  
Jay:They don’t want to talk about it. Yeah.  
Maureen:And I think too, for us, finding you all was a great boon to us because Jay was tearing his hair out. He used to have a lot more, doing the investments himself. He would wake up in the middle of the night and be worried about, and we were investing in individual stocks. Some we knew some, we didn’t. Being able to pass that on to you and say, you’re going to take care of it. We don’t have to worry about it as intensely anymore. That makes for a calmer retirement.  
Jay:I did have a couple of good ones. One was a being an angel investor in a thing called Bluegill when we were in Michigan and Bluegill turned in to be sold to Check ford, and is the basis for a lot of the online checking that you’re able to do and so on. That was a goodie. We just wish we’d put more money into that.  
Maureen:We invested 25,000 and 18 months later when they sold, we got about 400,000. That was our big mistake. We should’ve put 100,000.  
Jay:We had a boat named Bluegill.  
Radon Stancil:That’s good. Well, I just want you to know that, we feel that this is extremely valuable just to talk about these things. Because a lot of times people – they’re scared. I mean, people are worried about these things and you guys were able to share with us just your story. It’s not a scenario that we get to hear a lot, so thank you so very much for coming on and talking to us.  
Maureen:Thanks for taking care of our resources.