Well-Balanced Planning is the Key to Successful Retirement

They say the two things no one can avoid is death and taxes--- but the third unavoidable reality is aging. For people who make sound investments in themselves, the negative impacts of aging can be held at bay and their retirement years can be some of the best times of their lives. By focusing on making smart and disciplined decisions during a person’s family/working years they can achieve a well-balanced retirement.

The three key pillars to building a well-balanced retirement are: Finance, Health, and Lifestyle. It takes the combination of having enough money correctly positioned to last for years, with good physical and mental health, and a lifestyle that is enriching and purposeful to avoid senior years cursed by problems and regrets. The people take a well-balanced approach the better—but it’s never too late to adjust and help mitigate the worst aspects of the challenges of aging. Here are some of the most common areas people need to focus on as they near or are in their senior years:


1. Not enough money- One of the two greatest fears for seniors is running out of money. Not saving and investing enough during peak earning years will undermine financial stability in the future and force seniors to live well below the lifestyle they may be accustomed too. Living within a reasonable budget and finding a way to continue generating income in retirement will help a senior not only maintain a healthier bottom line, but it will also help them live a more active, purposeful lifestyle as well.

2. Inflation eroding value of money- Income for seniors will come primarily from their investments, Social Security, and pensions for some as well. But to beat inflation and not be losing money from its corrosive effects they will need to be earning a minimum of 3%-5% annually on invested money. Compounding the challenge is low interest rates generates almost no return for liquid savings and Social Security COLA’s have been lagging behind inflation for years but a major COLA increase of over 6% has arrived for 2022!

3. Under- or over- cautious with money- Seniors need to find the right balance of liquid savings to meet their budgetary needs with low-risk, but still keep money invested for longer-term growth. One to three years of money held in low-risk, low-yield money management accounts gives access to cash and avoids market downturns. Combining this approach with money invested in higher-risk, higher-yield vehicles will give seniors the ability to experience enough growth to stay ahead of inflation and not lose out on opportunities to benefit from market re-bounds if there is a market downturn and then recovery.


1. Declining health- Declining health will wreak havoc not only on physical well-being, but it can decimate finances and bring any exciting retirement plans to a grinding halt. It is critical that people invest in their health from as early as possible and also understand it is never too late to be exercising, eating right, cutting out bad habits, and staying focused on maintaining good health. Being overweight, sedentary, heavy drinking, poor diet, and smoking are all unforced errors that can be avoided with some discipline to avoid how badly the impact will be in later years.

2. Loss of ADL’s and independence- If a person’s health does decline and they begin to experience chronic conditions they could start experience a loss of their ability to independently manage activities of daily living (ADL’s) such as eating, dressing, toileting, or walking. Two or more losses of ADL’s are a sign that someone may no longer be able to live independently without jeopardizing their safety and maybe of those around them too.

3. Long-Term Care- At this point they will need to make decisions about the other greatest fear of seniors—the loss of independence and need for long-term care support and services. Family members often become caregivers without even realizing they are playing that role which becomes a physical, emotional and financial drain on everyone. Understanding the forms of care such as homecare and assisted living, and how to pay for it through insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or private dollars will make all the difference in this aspect of life being positive or negative for everyone involved (long-term care always impacts the entire family and not just the recipient). Alternative private pay options uniquely designed for seniors such as life settlements, reverse mortgages, and VA Aid and Attendance Benefits should be understood and considered.


1. Purpose- Studies clearly show that a very important contributor to longevity is having purpose in life. Many seniors today realize that retirement is about more than sitting on the porch. For seniors who maintain purpose in their life and can find meaning in their retirement will stay healthier, will be happier, and they will live longer. Stopping work does not mean ceasing being productive because there are so many ways seniors can find purpose with hobbies, family, charities, causes, and even generating income through other forms of work.

2. Relationships- Being connected to others is one of the most fundamental aspects of humanity. Too many seniors become isolated as the years march forward and that can be dangerous both physically and emotionally. There are so many ways today to remain connected to family and friends through technology (COVID taught us all that….), community organizations, clubs, religious and fraternal organizations, or maybe even starting a later life relationship. It takes some motivation to reach out to people and to get involved but building relationships will add so much to the quality of life a senior can experience.

3. Environment- The environment in which one lives often has a critical impact on their finances, health, and lifestyle. The rising cost of living in areas that were once more affordable, as well as the scattering of family members to other cities and states often leaves senior loved ones isolated. It is important to take into consideration where a senior should plan to live for their retirement. Real financial and safety consequences need to be taken into consideration when making these choices to ensure family members are living in a desirable location they that doesn’t create new financial or safety concerns that create unforeseen consequences.

As people approach and then enter their senior years there are many challenges that await them. But they can increase their chances of overcoming them and experience a well-balanced and meaningful life in retirement by properly planning and making smart financial, physical and lifestyle investments.


Chris Orestis, CSA is President of Retirement Genius, and is a nationally recognized financial, health/LTC, and retirement issues expert. He has over 25 years’ experience in the insurance and long-term care industries and is credited with pioneering the Long-Term Care Life Settlement over a decade ago. Chris Orestis is author of the books Help on the Way and A Survival Guide to Aging-- with a third book Retire Like a Genius to be published in 2021.