I recently read about an information concept called “Just-in-time” versus “Just-in-case.” Essentially, this is the difference between reading everything about a subject right now versus only searching for the answer when a specific question comes up. When thinking about your own retirement, the inclination can be to try and learn or retain everything “just in case” you need to know it at some point. While this can increase your confidence that you have a good plan in place, it can also turn into a demanding task that never ends. With changing tax laws, retirement contribution amounts and rules, the complex Social Security calculations, Medicare benefits and policies, varying interest rates, etc. the list seems never-ending. Keeping entirely up to date on everything all the time can be daunting.
Fortunately, the idea behind “Just-in-time” information is to understand a few of the core rules and important dates and leave the rest of the needed information for the future. For instance, one of the most common questions we get from clients between ages 50 and 60 is “when should we start taking Social Security?”. But by definition, this is a question that doesn’t need to be answered until at least 62. I’m not saying that it isn’t important to understand approximately how much your benefit will be and to understand that you can choose to start taking it between 62 and 70, but those are core rules and important dates. Answering the question about when to start is based on how much income you need at 62 and beyond, where it is coming from, and where is the most efficient source for that money. All these questions are best answered “Just-in-time”.
If you find yourself getting stressed out trying to understand every piece of your retirement income puzzle before you get there... relax! As long as you are saving, monitoring your cash flow, and letting your advisory team keep track of the essential details, it is entirely ok if you don’t know everything “Just-in-case”.
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