Bovard isn't surprised by the psychology at play among those who resist post-retirement spending.
"You spent 40 to 45 years accumulating this pot of money, and you did it by saving and saving and scrimping," he says.
In response, he tries to work with clients, especially during the early years of retirement, to "bump that expense level up a bit" and factor in the cost of various trips and activities they have expressed an interest in but haven't had the time to do until retirement.
"Sometimes part of our job is not just to be your financial adviser, but also a counselor," Bovard says. "It's all about striking a balance. If there are a couple of things you want to get done, lets figure out how to do them and still feel comfortable whether the markets are up or down or back and forth. While you still have the health and energy and desire, let's make these things you want to do happen."
"If you can't actually do that and relax, why retire? Maybe you are just tired of work, and that's fine, but if the idea is to retire because there are things you want to do and enjoy, then you are going to have to learn to relax a little bit," he adds. "It is a very different thought process for people when they've spent years pumping money in and now they turn around and have to take money out. Psychologically it is a huge transformation and if they are a workaholic, this can be a very difficult transition."
The balancing act between preserving financial security and enjoying your money differs from person to person, Bovard says. It is hardest for those he describes as "worrywarts."
"You have to deal with that personality differently, and they may never be comfortable," he says. "You say that they can afford to do something and they reply, 'Oh, I'd better not.' As soon as you go through the first downturn together -- and if you look at them long enough you are going to go through at least one or two or maybe three -- they are like, 'See, I knew it, I've got to pull back, I knew I shouldn't have gone on that trip.' What I have to say to them is that we've got the money set aside and life is going to move on whether the markets are up or down."
Bovard says having a solid financial plan in place helps investors learn to enjoy life in retirement. It also keeps them from taking on excessive risk in the name of returns.
"It's important to have the ability to stick to that plan through the good the bad and the ugly," he says. "It is not just when things are bad that people go off the reservation. When things are great, people believe they are much less risk averse. 'Oh look, everybody is making tons of money and I'm not making as much.' Well, remember that we have a balanced portfolio because when things are down you get really upset. We'll still get to the same place, we are just going to do it with less bumps."
--Written by Joe Mont in Boston.
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