Back in the ‘old days’ people used to work until 65, retire and then die at 70 so they didn’t really need or have a lot of resources to fund those 5 years.  Now retirement can last up to 30 or 35 years.  People are living longer all the time.  So, what does that mean for funding retirement?  How much money do you need?

Is 100 the new 85?  The probability at age 65 of living to the following ages:


Woman Man One of the couple
80 76% 65% 91%
85 59% 45% 77%
90 38% 24% 53%
95 17% 9% 24%

From Sunlife Financial

One consideration is realizing that your needs, like all stages of life will change over time as you age and your health changes.  During your retirement, it will be different from your friend’s and it will likely be different as you get older.  Retirement in your 50’s or 60’s is likely to be different than your life in your 70’s and 80’s and definitely different if you reach your 90’s or even 100.

I have heard the 3 phases of retirement called:

  • The go/go phase
  • The slow/go phase
  • The no/go phase

Let us look at each of these:

The Go-Go phase

The Go-Go phase is the active retirement phase. It is the early retirement phase when we tend to be physically and mentally capable of living an active lifestyle. It may not be that much different than pre-retirement except that there may be more time to do things like travel and hobbies.

For some, the Go-Go phase or the active phase will include work. It may be part-time work or consulting in the field of their pre-retirement career, or it may mean self-employment. Often people in this phase of retirement are so busy, they don’t know how they had time to work!

The Slow-Go phase

The next phase of retirement is the Slow-Go phase where your body is telling you to slow down a little. Often this happens between the ages of 70 and 84.  You might just need a bit less activity.  Life can become a bit more about routines and the excitement of retirement becomes more stable. You could also consider this phase as the stable retirement phase.

Many of you know retirees in this phase because they have very predictable patterns like the bridge on Monday, grocery shopping on Tuesdays, babysitting grandkids on Wednesdays, banking on Thursdays, etc. The older you get, the more important it is to find routines and patterns that give you comfort and security.

You may still travel, but just not as often or for as long.  You are likely staying home more.

The No-Go phase

The last phase of retirement is the No-Go phase.  In this phase, time and age play a role in slowing down activities and abilities. Sometimes this is mental, sometimes physical, and sometimes it can be financial.

Often this stage requires some level of support from family, governments, or agencies. Again, this can be physical, emotional, or financial support. Choices become much more limited.

Spending through the phases of retirement

Understanding the three phases of retirement can have a significant impact on planning how much money you need for retirement. In terms of spending, you probably need more income in the Go-Go phase of retirement because that is the time in your retirement when you tend to be doing more.  The Go-Go phase is when you are traveling more, golfing more, walking more, etc. Statistics show that spending tends to reduce the older you get and the further you get into the Slow-Go phase.

By the time you hit the No Go Phase your discretionary spending has likely dropped significantly.  You are not traveling or driving much if at all.  You are only spending money on the necessities of life – food, shelter clothing.  However, in this phase spending on health care may also increase significantly depending on if you need care at home or need to move into a long term care facility.

Another consideration is housing – will you downsize as you get older or not.  Many people want to stay in their homes as long as possible and don’t downsize as early as they expected when they were younger.

The key to retirement planning is to recognize that not all retirements are the same; not just with regards to lifestyle but also to spending. It is important to know where you are in life today and look ahead to plan for that future especially through the different phases of retirement.


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