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Insights & Education

Meet Anne, a 61-year-old employee benefits consultant

Anne, 61, has retired from her role as the executive director of benefits at a university and has moved on to a new endeavor: developing an employee benefits consultant firm. She and her husband don’t quite know what the future holds, but they do know they love where they live — in a suburb of Chicago — and they plan to stay. With their healthcare taken care of — thanks to Anne’s husband’s former job — they have less to worry about financially. Here Anne discusses what’s next for her and whether retirement is in the future at all.

Read Anne's interview below or listen here.

As retirement approaches, is there anything in particular that you’re worried about – either leading up to retirement or once you’re in retirement?

Although I’m technically retired from my job, I consider that I’ve transitioned into self-employment. I’m shooting for 20 to 30 hours of working per week, tops. I’m primarily in this startup mode because the thing I was most worried about was… am I going to get bored? Am I going to get frustrated, or feel useless? What about all that knowledge I’ve gained over my decades of working? That drove me to think about consulting. I don’t have any clients right now, so it hasn’t come fully to fruition, but that’s the plan. And it was directly a result of my worrying how to fill my days and am I going to get stale.

Do you have a clear view on your plan for retirement, such as when, where, and how much you will need?

My husband and I have thought a lot about that. We love where we live, it has a lot of personal advantages. We’re close to family, and we’re not the type of people that would up and move to Florida, or the southwest. Location wise, we are here for the foreseeable future. As long as we can get up and down the stairs. We have a lot of stairs.

We’ve already started traveling, so that’s high on our list. That’s another reason for doing the consulting, getting a stream of income that supports our ability to travel. My husband has been retired for a number of years, so he has his own cadence. It’s me now, trying to figure out how I fit into that model of being a retiree, as well.

As you approach retirement, have your retirement savings or spending habits changed at all?

We’ve already done the planning of figuring out how we’ll replace my paycheck, but if anything, we’re a little more conscious about spending.

Now, think back to your days on your first job - If you could, what would you tell your younger self – the one who is just starting their career – about saving for retirement?

I think I would tell myself — and I am telling my son, who is 37, this — to get going early. Don’t assume you’ve got decades ahead of you to do this. Well you do have decades, but if you get started in your 20s or 30s, it’s easier than delaying into your mid-40s and then saying, “Oh my God, I gotta get going!” Start earlier than you think is necessary, and make certain you are maximizing any employer contributions you are able to get. That was something I never had a problem doing, because it’s my business. In employee benefits, we preached that all the time. So, I always participated to the extent that I would maximize a match. But I probably should have started earlier. I kept thinking I’d get around to it, but then five, ten years would go by. So, my message would be to start earlier than you think is necessary.

As a woman, do you feel that there are any unique or added barriers you had to overcome as you save for retirement?

Not really. I have two adult children, my son and a daughter. I did take short periods of time for both kids, so I was out of the workforce for five months with my daughter and three for my son. But overall, I don’t really see that as having been a problem. I still felt like I had all the opportunities available to me to save. I think probably the only thing, thinking back on promotional opportunities, as a woman I might not have chased after that in the way a male colleague might have.

Who have you discussed your retirement with? An advisor, spouse or partner, friends?

It was largely through guidance sessions, reading. I read everything I can get my hands on. Attending webinars, and advice and guidance through our original company.

How much of a role does/did your employer have in helping you understand how you can be prepared for retirement?

I would say they had a pretty good role in it. For healthcare, I was fortunate, because my husband, in his earlier career, had retiree medical. So I could pivot and become a dependent on his plan. That carries me until I’m eligible for Medicare. So that was good. A lot of people don’t have that. So then it’s kind of like, you either take COBRA, or go to the marketplace and pick something that might be expensive, with a high deductible. I was lucky he had the healthcare plan in place already.

What is one smart money move that you made early on? What would you go back and change?

I think one smart money move I made early on was just going into target date funds. Those basically invest in funds that are diversified in the market, but oriented toward your age and expected retirement date. All the rebalancing is done at the fund-level for you. So that was probably the one good thing. Investing is complicated and a lot of people feel they don’t understand, but target date funds can help.

Research shows people are living longer. How do you feel about living to be 100? Are you financially prepared to sustain a longer life? What excites you or worries you about living a longer life?

I don’t know if it excites me. To me it’s all about quality of life, not length. If I’m in good health and can get around and move and speak and carry on conversation, fine. It’s okay to be 100, I suppose. But it’s not something I think is great or exciting. There’s a finite time where your body says "I’m done". Whether that’s 85 or 95 or 100. But quality is what I put more emphasis on. In terms of the financial aspect, obviously I don’t plan to be a benefits consultant when I’m 95 years old. I don’t think people would really want to listen to me. It’ll be interesting to see. That’s a long-winded way of saying I wouldn’t say I’m super excited about 100, but I think it’s all about the quality of life and how engaged you can be.


These interviews are published for educational use only, and are not intended to provide financial, legal, fiduciary, accounting, or tax advice, nor are they intended to make any investment or insurance recommendations. Experiences presented may not be representative of the experiences of other individuals and there is no guarantee of similar results or success. Please consult with the appropriate legal, financial, or tax professional regarding your own financial situation and investment needs and objectives.


At the time of these interviews, the individuals interviewed were not clients, shareholders, or employees of Corebridge Financial, and no direct or indirect compensation was provided in return for such interviews. The interviews have been modified for content.

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