This is not what it may seem.

It’s not a prohibition on spending money or what to cut back on. It’s not about budgeting and accounting for every dollar going forward. And it’s not about reassessing projections or getting financial documents in order.

As helpful as these strategies are, this financial new year’s resolution is about intentionally having your money align with whatever in life is most important to you, what provides you both enjoyment and fulfillment.

What would make life amazing? Not just fun or socially busy, but truly amazing.

Of course, every retiree is different. But regardless of one’s financial situation and stage in life, there are three life categories that we all plan, dream and hope about.

These are personal experiences and relationships, our accomplishments, and our impact. It’s helpful to understand our desires in each of these areas and establish specific action steps to pursue them for a more flourishing life. We can dedicate time to plan and live them, using different financial strategies for each category.

The category of experiences and relationships is about the things we love to do and those we value. The best combination is doing the things we love most with those whom we love to be around. Once retirees reflect on what experiences and relationships are most meaning ful and fulfilling, then they can consider how finances could be shifted to empower these goals.

Diving into these experiences and relationships may require more spending, and it’s beneficial to have an income plan that generates enough cash flow to pay for them. This may require income-producing assets as part of a portfolio, which could include dividend-paying stocks, fixed-income instruments and lifetime income annuities.

Accomplishments is a category that can take many forms, depending on the retiree’s specific interests, beliefs and values. They can include acquiring skills, achieving noteworthy goals, securing material acquisitions or building net worth.

Retirees should first consider what accomplishments mean the most to them. The next step is to consider what finances are needed. There are many strategies for building wealth, but particularly in the current investment environment, it is vital to make sure the risk being taken is worth it. Traditional investing strategies that provided historic diversification and strong returns have been highly disappointing in the last few years. The current high-interest-rate environment has made financial choices like CDs and annuities relatively more attractive compared to riskier investments in the stock market.

The final category, impact, means making a difference in the world. Many retirees have the freedom and flexibility to pursue their volunteering interests. This can increase the satisfaction and meaning they feel in life. Impact can be made through effective use of time and money. Impact can also be made through gifts to individuals and causes while the donor is alive or after they pass away. If assets are limited, it may be wise to delay such giving until after it is certain the funds will not be required to meet financial obligations. Alternatively, if assets are plentiful, making an impact during one’s lifetime can provide great enjoyment and fulfillment. Savvy financial tax strategies could allow individuals to make a larger impact with fewer financial resources.

This new year’s resolution challenge is to consider what would make retirement – or any stage in life – as amazing as it can be. Using the three categories can help everyone better understand and pursue their life goals, hopes and dreams. This understanding can guide decisions on spending, investing and transferring wealth.

With many things in life, it is possible to see goals to completion solely through personal efforts, but sometimes professional assistance can provide better results. In this case, the services of a qualified professional like a certified financial planner practitioner for financial advice or a certified expert to facilitate personal reflection and growth are advisable.

Featured in the Cape Gazette: https://www.capegazette.com/article/financial-new-year%E2%80%99s-resolution-empowers-retirees/268979