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Using online tools to shape retirement targets

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Creative visualization can be a powerful tool, especially when helping clients form concrete goals for retirement.

Often, retirement planning is thought of as nothing more than analyzing whether one’s available sources of income and assets will support them during retirement, says Claudia Mott, a CFP and the principal of Epona Financial Solutions in Basking Ridge, N.J.

But now there are applications and ideas that try to take the concept of retirement planning to a new level, she says.

“By asking individuals more about their long-term non-financial goals, how they envision their life, what they want to do in retirement, a more holistic approach is taken in creating a future plan,” Mott says. “Financial planners can help individuals think through these ideas and concepts and determine what resources might be needed to achieve them.”

LifeReimagined.org is an AARP website that offers free online tutorials such as LifeMap to help people form concrete goals for retirement, says Rich Feller, billed as a thought leader and work expert at AARP’s Life Reimagined Institute.

“Reflecting on one's goals and passions, getting clear about the impact they want to make and building lifestyles connected to values is today's blueprint for wise retirement,” he says. “AARP’s LifeMap offers a secure and fun way to create such a blueprint.”

George Kinder, founder of the Kinder Institute of Life Planning, helps clients delve even deeper into their wish lists with the interactive tools he developed on LifePlanningForYou.com, along with asking them three questions to start them on the reflection process. The site has a partner site designed to be used by advisers that integrates well with financial planner data-gathering procedures.

The first question is, “If you woke up one morning and got all the money you need for the rest of your life, what would you do?”

Most people list all of the fun things they would want to do, Kinder says.

The second question is, “What if you learned that you only had between five or 10 more years to live, what then would you do?”

That gets people more reflective, getting them to sift through their goals and prioritize them, Kinder says.

The third question is, “What if you learned that you have had an undiagnosed rare ailment that has now come to term, and that you have only 24 hours to live? What did you not get to do, or what did you not get to be?”

“As planners, this can help us learn what is really important to them,” Kinder says.

“For very few does it mean that they need much more money,” he says. “For many, in fact, they would be quite happy with a more simplified life, which can completely shift their financial plan.”

This story is part of a 30-30 series on tools and strategies for retirement

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