Mental Habits That Affect Graceful Aging And Retirement Success

Mental Money Habits

“Someone stole my life savings. What am I going to do now?”

“When I bought the time-share over the phone, I gave my personal information to a salesman. A few months later, I started getting collection calls on a credit card I didn’t open. He stole my identity. What am I going to do now?”

“I used my debit card when I bought magazines online. When I got my statement a few weeks later, I noticed a $5,000 withdrawal. The bank can’t get my money back. What am I going to do now?”

Sound familiar?

We’ve all read about these kinds of scams, and we may have seen it happen to a family member, a friend, or a neighbor. They’re all heart-rending, and we don’t want it to happen to us. The good news is, it doesn’t have to. The bad news is that the groundwork for exploitation starts with us and the failure to embrace our own aging. This avoidance prevents many of us from following sensible, straightforward steps to protect our identity and foil scammers.

Let’s face it…

As we age, certain events are inevitable. We lose muscle, our bones thin out, and we experience a general slowing down in our vision, walking and other body functions as well as how our brain processes information and stores memories.

These changes are cumulative. Some people experience them earlier and some experience them later, but eventually everyone experiences the effects aging. Delaying the impact of these changes is governed by the mental habits we adopt and the choices we make based on them. Some of our habits support us in aging well; others prevent us from taking the steps to age well and put us at risk for scams and a host of other retirement killing mistakes.

  • Aging is inevitable, it has to happen.
  • Falling victim to scams isn’t inevitable, it doesn’t have to happen.

Two Mental Habits That Affect Graceful Aging And Retirement Success

Present Thinking

When you think about events that will happen far in the future, or perceive events to be far away, you don’t take the consequences of your choices in the present as seriously. This phenomenon is called present thinking or discounting the future.

Present thinking results in putting off lifestyle changes like exercise that can significantly delay frailty as you age. It’s a costly mistake to your nest-egg but more importantly, your independence.

For example:

  • It’s hard to get motivated to exercise now so you can be healthy ten years from now.
  • It’s easier to get motivated to exercise now so you can keep up with your grandkids when they visit next month.


When you fail to recognize normal aging or mild cognitive changes, it puts you at risk of making poor decisions with your personal finances that affect your financial well-being. This happens when you’re overconfident in your own abilities.

Confidence is hard-wired into your brain and while it helps you move forward, the same confidence that served you well in the past can quickly become overconfidence as you age. This in turn can make you a prime candidate for financial scams and fraud.

For example, you may think:

“I was a CEO, managing hundreds of people and a multi-million dollar budgets. Do I really need someone else to help make decisions about investing in illiquid securities like real estate, private placement, or alternative investments, changing my will or estate plan late in life, or gifting money to a family member or friend?”

Fates And Facets Of Aging

To achieve retirement success and avoid what we call the Four Fearsome Fates of Aging — looking back with regret, premature health declines, running out of money, and ending up alone and vulnerable to exploitation — you need to:

  1. Think about what you want your life to be like.
  2. Set up the conditions needed to achieve what we call the Four Fabulous Facets of Aging — enjoying the present, experiencing financial ease, living your best healthy life, and making meaningful connections.

Four Steps To Avoid Financial Vulnerability

Here are four steps you can use to avoid ending up alone and vulnerable to exploitation:

  1. Engage a Financial Life Planner to prepare for financial and non-financial challenges in your retirement.
  2. Commit to a Strategic Life Plan focused on the financial and non-financial issues in retirement and plan for early, middle and late retirement. The only thing certain in life is change.
  3. Embrace the reality of aging and optimize for the changes you know will come. Aging happens whether you plan for it or not. Take command of it, and don’t let it happen by default.
  4. Create an Environment that provides help and support in areas where you struggle. Know what goals to set and what steps to take, get and stay motivated, and manage personal behaviors that can either facilitate your journey or trip you up.

If you’re interested in talking with one of our Strategic Life Plan Advisors, please reach out and contact us today. We’re ready, we’re available, and we’re looking forward to speaking with you!

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