I hear, “I spend more in retirement than I expected.” People expect retirement to be less expensive than their working life. What they don’t realize is they will fill their free time with things to do and they almost all cost money.
As a part of my series about the “5 Things Retirees Say They Wish They Were Told Before They Began Retirement” I had the pleasure of interviewing Cory Nichols. Cory Nichols is your go-to for just about everything. Retirement planning? Check! Student loan questions? Got it! Building a deck? He’s done that, too. Cory brings an MBA, Fortune 500 experience and small business executive experience to the table. Cory wants to bring financial advice to the masses through an easy to understand $25/month subscription for one-on-one financial coaching.
Thank you so much for doing this with us, Cory! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Four years ago I was working in a high paying corporate America job. I had a company car, a 401(k) with a match, all the standard employee benefits, I owned a beautiful home, I had a 15-month-old son, and my wife was 5 months pregnant with our second child. In the eyes of society, I was living the dream. I had it all.
The reality was, I have never been more miserable in my life.
One Friday in June 2016, I was fired from that job and made the decision in that moment that never again would I work for somebody else. It was important to me that my values and morals always be front and center in everything I do and the only way I knew how to do that was to work for myself.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Oh this is easy. By far the most interesting thing is when total strangers trust you with the most personal details of their life. I once was connected with a total stranger through Instagram that then turned into a client. They had a net worth of multiple millions of dollars and found me through INSTAGRAM. Talk about interesting. Still blows my mind.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
I can remember in the early days explaining a Roth IRA vs a 401(k) and flipping the features. I had been drinking from a fire hose and was just totally exhausted. When I finally realized I had explained them wrong, I felt so embarrassed to acknowledge that I had mixed it up. The client was totally understanding and I learned then to slow down and that saying “I don’t know” is totally acceptable as long as you can find the answer.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Without a doubt the number one person who has made my success possible is my wife Colleen. When our family was reeling after my job loss, she (at 5 months pregnant) took on additional responsibilities so that we could go for it.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
Expect to be exhausted at times. It’s just the reality of going for big dreams. If there is one thing you can do to control the burnout, set non-work times and be firm about them. I don’t take client meetings on weekends, they are reserved for my family.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Culture is one of those things you can’t fake. You have to authentically be committed to the ideas and values you set as an organization. Truly great organizations talk less about culture and let the culture show. Talk is cheap.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact nearly every aspect of one’s life. Obviously everyone’s experience is different. But In your experience, what are the 5 most common things that people wish someone told them before they retired?
Without a doubt, retirement is a giant life change probably only rivaled by the birth of a first child. Time and time again I hear clients struggle with the same things when it comes to retirement. First, they need to maintain some sort of schedule and purpose in their life. It is important that we have a schedule and that we fill our lives with events we value. This is critical to both your mental health and your financial health. If we have loads of free time on our hands, we normally get ourselves into trouble financially. Your advisor should help you think through what you days, weeks and years will look like in retirement. The second thing I hear is “I spend more in retirement than I expected.” People expect retirement to be less expensive than their working life. What they don’t realize is they will fill their free time with things to do and they almost all cost money. The third thing is the impact of fees. The financial industry is going through a massive change right now how more and more technology can automate the work of a financial advisor (as it relates to investment management), and this means that your advisor should create more value in your life outside of the investment management. If they are still charging you a traditional fee in excess of 1%, it could be costing your thousands or hundreds of thousands over the course of your retirement. Fourth, work with an advisor who is younger than you. So many times, I meet couples who 10 years into retirement they are stuck with a new advisor who bought the business from their original advisor (who retired) and they no longer have a relationship with the new person. Find somebody who should still be of “working age” for the remainder of your life so that you can avoid unnecessary changes. Finally, do some research before making a decision. It may feel extremely urgent, but the reality is that its a big life decision. Take a retired friend to lunch and ask about his or her day to day schedule. Ask your financial advisor questions about frequency of meetings and what value they provide. Take your time up front and you will reap the rewards for a long time.
Lets zoom in on this a bit. If you had to advise your loved ones about the 3 most important financial issues to keep in mind before they retire, what would you say? Can you give an example or share a story?
This is an easy one for me.
- Fees are costly.
- Health care/long term care can deplete your savings quickly
- The market is going to go down at some point during retirement, be prepared.
If you had to advise your loved ones about the 3 most important health issues to keep in mind before they retire, what would you say? Can you give an example or share a story?
I recently went through this with my own parents. The three most important things are
- Your health becomes your primary job in retirement
- Availability of healthcare will be a challenge, and costly (if you retire before Medicare eligible)
- Retirement is a major life change, expect challenges related to your marriage and personal relationships.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I am living this right now. I despise that professional financial advice is limited to individuals with high income or high net worth. Everyday people are left to figure it out on their own reading books and internet articles (both of which can sometimes contain terrible advice). I launched Yes Life Financial with a simple $25/month subscription that gave you access to a financial advisor. Affordable for anybody and the right amount of help and direction to improve their financial life.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
I am a big fan of “Own Your Weird” by Jason Zook. I think one of the things that gets lost in financial services is that everybody is preaching the same “value” and ideas. Jason encourages people to let their authentic self shine so that they attract people who appreciate their sense of humor, personality and approach.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
Warren Buffett said “You don’t have to do extraordinary things to get extraordinary results” and I think this is so true. Consistency and habits are way more important than getting huge wins.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
I’m active on Instagram @cory__nichols
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!