5-10 Years From Retirement

Case study #2: Robert & Susan

Robert (55) & Susan (50)


Robert and Susan have two kids ages 16 and 13. Robert is in sales and Susan is in business administration and together they earn a good income and this income has been growing steadily over the past years.

They want to successfully retire in the next 5-10 years. They have a variety of investment and retirement accounts, including Roberts 401k, IRAs, UTMAs, and Variable Annuities. They also have credit card debt. They were unsure of where to start.


  • Robert retire at age 65, Susan between 60-65
  • Pay for a private college for their kids
  • Understand different investment accounts they have along with what they could be doing differently
  • Ensure the family will be financially okay should anything happen to one of them
  • How to maximize savings for retirement and how much they should be saving
  • Understanding and implementing tax deduction strategies and tax savings strategies
  • Pay off high-interest credit card debt


  • Retirement Planning – They felt they had investment and retirement accounts at multiple places and didn’t understand how they worked and how to utilize them for their goals.
  • College Planning – With two kids approaching college and retirement on the horizon, they were concerned if something happened to one would they be financially secure.
  • Estate Planning – They didn’t have any Wills or estate plans in place.
  • Investment Planning – They didn’t know if their accounts were invested correctly based on their age, investment profile, risk tolerance, and time horizon. They were not aware of the fees they were paying.
  • Cash Flow Planning – Should they pay off their credit card debt with a savings balance?

Personal Financial Summary (Observations)

Reviewing their Personal Financial SummaryTM provides insight to Robert and Susan about their current financial position. A few main observations were:

  • They keep a healthy balance in their checking and savings accounts. Interest on checking and savings accounts could be minimal, and with no immediate expenditures with this money, better use is to consider paying off high-interest credit card debt.
  • The UTMAs are a wonderful tool if utilized properly. Unfortunately, these funds were sitting in money market funds and not invested. They were missing out on possible capital gains in the 0% Federal Income Tax Bracket.
  • They were not aware of the years in which their income qualified them to contribute to a Roth IRA. Having different pots of money in retirement may be important for controlling taxable income.
  • Robert and Susan each purchased a high fee commission product which was compared to other options with lower fees.
  • Robert was contributing only 3% to his 401k to get the employer match.
  • Roberts 401k investment allocation was much more conservative than his risk tolerance and time horizon.
  • Susan did not believe she had an employer plan.
  • Neither Robert nor Susan had any life insurance.
  • They did not have wills with testamentary trusts for what would happen with their minor children in the event they both passed.
  • Had they continued the path they were on they were not on track for retirement.

Personal Financial Summary (Recommendations and Outcome*)

  • Organize assets so they knew where their money is going and have enough to fund what matters most.
  • Prioritized paying off high-interest debt to maximize the effectiveness of her savings during their remaining working years.
  • Without the high monthly credit card payments, Robert can now contribute the maximum allowed to his 401k and other investments with the goal to retire in time.
  • Susan discovered she had a plan through her work and is now contributing the maximum and getting a 3% match.
  • Each year their adjusted gross income is reviewed to keep their investment contributions as high as possible so they can meet their ideal retirement timeline.
  • They both have sufficient life insurance to ensure the financial security of the surviving spouse.
  • Wills with Testamentary Trusts are also in place giving peace of mind knowing their children will be cared for if they are not there.
  • They now have confidence in their retirement plan and are on track for an enjoyable retirement.


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*This is a hypothetical case study provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a projection of current of future performance or indication or future results.  The information provided is not based on actual current or past clients. All situations are unique, and results will differ depending on individual situation.  Past performance is not indicative of future results.