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What Is Retirement Planning?

Everyone wants to enjoy their retirement but not everyone plans it appropriately. Retirement planning starts with understanding your income goals and how it’s possible to achieve them through various financial methods. We typically look at 4 primary factors:
1. Income sources – How much are you bringing in?
2. Expenses – How much are you spending?
3. Savings – How much capital do you have set aside?
4. Assets and Risk – How much do you have invested? What insurances cover your risk?

We use various financial models to estimate future cash flow which helps us determine whether your retirement income goal can be met.

How Much Do You Need to Retire?

Remember that retirement planning starts long before you retire. The general rule is the sooner you start, the better. Your magic number, which is the amount you need to retire comfortably, is highly personalized.

While the amount of money you’ll want to have in your nest egg is important, it’s also a good idea to consider all of your expenses. Be sure to calculate the costs for housing, health insurance, food, clothing, and your vehicle/transportation. And since you’ll have more free time on your hands, you may also want to factor in the cost of entertainment and travel.

Harding Financial Group does the heavy lifting for you by building your entire financial plan on the foundation of a thorough retirement analysis. We factor in all relevant variables, including taxes and inflation, and simulate your retirement journey 10,000 times to determine your financial plan’s ability to provide you with income as long as you live, as well as its ability to withstand unpredictable events such as The Great Recession of 2008 or the COVID-19 pandemic.

Retirement Planning the HFG Way

Retirees are often financially unprepared for retirement because of an incomplete retirement needs analysis. Our steps to retirement planning are straightforward yet imperative to the overall success of your retirement journey.

Develop a complete profile of your current financial situation

We will collect all relevant information such as your:

  • Current investment & retirement account balances
  • Annual contributions
  • Income and expenses
  • Tax liability and more

Use appropriate assumptions.

To accurately predict your retirement plan’s probability of success, the correct assumptions must be made. This is why we use history-supported assumptions for inflation, tax rates, savings rates, etc.

Run a Monte Carlo analysis.

A Monte Carlo analysis takes all the financial inputs and assumptions from steps 1 & 2 and simulates your retirement journey across 10,000 unique market cycles to produce a predictive probability of your retirement plan’s success.

Analyze and present recommendations.

Financial planning 101 says that 70% is a good Monte Carlo result. We strive for 80% at HFG and will present you with several pathways forward to get you there. You can have peace of mind knowing your retirement plan is on track and has already planned for unforeseen events.


Retirement Plans

Retirement accounts come in many shapes and sizes. The rules and regulations for each are a bit different.

Many of our clients started working with us by rolling over an employer-sponsored retirement plan. Common employer-sponsored plans include 401(k), 403(b), SEP IRA and SIMPLE IRA plans. All offer tax-deferral benefits, and many offer employer matching contributions, but each have their own nuances to be aware of.

Traditional IRAs offer the same tax-deferral benefits as employer-sponsored plans but have different contribution and deductibility limits. IRAs typically have a more robust offering of investment options than the typical employer-sponsored retirement plans today.

In contrast to its pre-tax Traditional IRA counterpart, the Roth IRA allows for tax-free withdrawals in exchange for assuming tax liability on contributions. In summation, investors pay tax now on contributions and assume no tax liability on future withdrawals, if certain conditions have been satisfied.

Wondering what you should do with your previous employer-sponsored retirement plan?

Speak with a HFG financial advisor today

Stages Of Retirement Planning

Click the age group boxes to see our guidelines for successful retirement planning at different stages of life.

Young Adulthood

(Ages 21–35)

Early Midlife

(Ages 36–50)

Later Midlife

(Ages 50–65)


(Ages (65+)

Other Aspects of Retirement Planning

Retirement planning includes a lot more than simply how much you will save and how much you need. It takes into account your complete financial picture.

Estate Planning

Tax Efficiency


What Our Harding Financial Group
Clients Are Saying

Stephanie Fowler
We have been working with Michael Holly with HFG for several months now. He has been very patient with us, and has taken the time to make sure we feel comfortable and understand all unfamiliar financial circumstances. He is extremely thorough during our meetings, as well as having a well rounded plan to present all options. He is someone we feel comfortable calling and asking questions to and feel secure knowing he has our best interests at hand.
Ann Smerles
HFG has been a great help as I approach retirement. Michael listens to my goals and diligently works to provide an excellent outcome. He explains his plan, asks for my opinion, and clearly answers my questions.
Al Jenkins
Carefully listen to your needs and develop a customized plan to suit those needs.
Paul Atwell
Since retiring in 2008, Harding Financial has handled our accounts. Currently, they are also involved with our adult children’s accounts. Not only do they have our complete trust, but the comprehensive outlook towards capital retention and the estate is wonderful. Michael Harding is an amazing professional. He is highly accredited, knowledgable and thorough. The regular market letters, and quarterly in person reviews keep us up to date. We highly recommend Harding Financial.
Eric Atwell
I am incredibly fortunate to have found such a professional and trustworthy financial advisor. Their deep understanding of the market has truly made a remarkable difference in managing my finances. From the very beginning, their expertise and guidance instilled a sense of confidence in me. They took the time to thoroughly analyze my financial situation and patiently explained various strategies tailored to my goals. This personalized approach was both refreshing and reassuring. What sets them apart is their unwavering commitment to transparency and honesty. I have complete faith in their recommendations, knowing that they always have my best interests at heart. They've not only helped me navigate complex financial decisions but have also provided invaluable insights that have led to tangible results. Their ability to stay current with market trends and adapt strategies accordingly is truly impressive. I've witnessed firsthand how their deep understanding of the market has translated into positive outcomes for my investments. In a world where financial matters can be overwhelming, having a financial advisor like Harding Financial Group has been a game-changer for me. I wholeheartedly recommend their services to anyone seeking expert guidance, exceptional professionalism, and a partner who genuinely cares about their clients' financial well-being.
Michael Kappas
My involvement with the Harding Financial Group has been a great experience! I believe that Michael and his staff are very professional and do everything possible to make their clients comfortable and secure! I have the upmost confidence in their abilities and their knowledge of the markets that affect our financial investments! I have referred family and friends to the Harding Financial Group! I’m very pleased to be part of this great organization!
Lisa Collins
I can’t say enough about how happy I am with Harding Financial Services and have been very pleased with the services they provide! I have been with them for 15 years and Mike and his team are the best! Never once have I worried about where he directs my monies. So if you are looking for a highly qualified professional team they will work on what needs best fit you in younger years or retirement years!
Heidi Steinbrenner
I switched from a large financial firm to Harding Financial Group about a year ago. I am very pleased with the special attention and advice they give to my personal financial needs as I head into retirement. They are very through and knowledgeable on giving me advise that is best for me. I could not be more confident with Harding Financial handling my finances and highly recommend them to others.
Nicholas Martin
Harding Financial Group Experience: My wife and I were referred to Harding Financial Group by an existing client of theirs. In our initial meeting with Mike Harding and Michael Holly we expressed our long term goals. Not only for retirement but for large purchases such as a new car and a future home. They assisted us in developing a strategy of savings and budgeting to acquire the car we wanted, save for our future home while continuing to grow our retirement portfolio. The Harding Financial Group not only guides their customers to a happy retirement, but a happy journey to retirement.
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Get a one-one consultation with our retirement advisors to begin the conversation about your retirement goals, needs, and current financial situation.

See our Frequently Asked Questions below for commonly asked questions about Retirement Planning.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Retirement is a nuanced endeavor and to optimize your retirement, there are several elements that need to be carefully executed with the help of a qualified financial professional. However, taking the first steps toward retirement planning is as simple as saving a set percentage of your income per pay, per month, or as frequently as you can afford to do so.

If your employer offers a retirement plan, contribute a fixed percentage of your earnings every paycheck. Retirement plans are tax-advantaged in that your contributions reduce your tax-reportable income through deductions (with limits), and the earnings in your plan grow tax-deferred. Don’t know how much to contribute? If your employer offers to match your contributions, contribute at least the percentage they are willing to match. If your employer doesn’t match your contributions, determine how much of a reduction in income you can afford to take every pay period and contribute that amount. You can always reduce or increase your contribution percentage if your situation changes.

If your employer doesn’t offer a retirement plan, consider opening an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and contribute to it. For 2023, you can contribute up to $6,500 annually to an IRA, and an additional $1,000 in “catch-up” contributions if you’re over age 50. If you make less than $138,000 per year as a single tax filer (or $218,000 Married Filing Jointly), you can contribute the same amount to a Roth IRA which differs from a Traditional IRA in the sense that earnings grow and are withdrawn tax-free versus tax-deferred. The earlier you begin saving and investing the better due to compounding interest, and beginning even a year earlier can make a meaningful difference in your retirement portfolio over a 20- to 30-yr period.

Successful retirement planning ensures that you are provided with sufficient income to support your lifestyle as long as you live. The worst-case scenario financial planners seek to prevent is their clients outliving their money. It takes careful planning of many interrelated aspects of retirement (e.g. investment accounts, retirement plans, tax consequences, social security, Medicare, estate planning, etc.) to make sure you are financially prepared. This is why it’s crucial to have a plan that is flexible enough to adapt to life changes, and durable enough to withstand unforeseen events in the financial markets.

Retirement ages vary among people. As a general rule of thumb, you are fit to retire once you have accumulated enough assets to supply you (and/or your family) with sufficient income from the point of retirement for as long as you live. Do you have enough money to support your desired standard of living during a retirement that could last 20 years or longer? There are several considerations when making this determination such as your current income & expenses versus those projected in retirement, annual inflation, annual expected investment returns, the years in which you can draw from your retirement accounts, if/when you can begin drawing your social security retirement benefits, and access to healthcare just to name a few. Your goals and desired standard of living now and in retirement will largely influence when retirement is feasible for you, specifically. Every client relationship at HFG begins with a comprehensive retirement analysis of which a financial plan is built upon and every recommendation thereafter is congruent with.

The tax-advantaged retirement account known as a 401(k) is one that many employers provide. In a typical 401(k) arrangement, you as the employee will contribute a fixed percentage of your pre-tax earned income toward your 401(k) account. Oftentimes, the employer will match a certain amount of your contributions. In a 401(k), the employee contributions are immediately vested but the employer contributions will vest over a period of several years. A 401(k) is employee-directed, meaning the employee is responsible for the investment decisions within the account. Typically, 401(k) plans will offer a handful of mutual fund options including “target-date” funds. Sometimes, a brokerage option is available within the 401(k) which allows the investor access to additional investment options such as individual stocks, bonds, mutual funds & ETFs that would otherwise not be available in the 401(k).

Earnings within the 401(k) grow tax-deferred, meaning the employee doesn’t have to pay taxes on any growth within the account until money is withdrawn from it. 401(k) plans may sometimes permit the employee to take loans from their account (which are different than withdrawals), however it’s recommended that you consult with a financial advisor prior to doing so. Withdrawals are able to be taken penalty-free after age 59.5 and are subject to ordinary income tax. If taken before age 59.5, the withdrawal will be subject to an additional 10% early withdrawal penalty unless it qualifies as a “hardship withdrawal” which may or may not be available within your plan.

401(k) plans, like other retirement accounts, will require you to take withdrawals at a certain age. The Secure 2.0 Act of 2022 delayed these required minimum distributions (RMDs) until the attainment of age 73 beginning on Jan. 1, 2023. This legislation also aims to further delay RMD commencement until age 75 beginning Jan. 1, 2033. At a certain age (typically 59.5, but sometimes sooner), the full (or partial) 401(k) balance can be “rolled over” into an IRA and maintain tax deferral. There are pros and cons to each type of account, but oftentimes clients begin their relationship with us through a rollover of their retirement plan.

It depends on the type of retirement benefits. Every person, based on their age, has a specific date they are eligible to receive 100% of their social security retirement benefits, called Full Retirement Age (FRA). Social Security can be collected as early as age 62 which would reduce the benefit, or delayed past FRA which would increase the benefit (although the benefit stops increasing at age 70). The decision to delay Social Security or to take it early can have a significant impact on your retirement plan for better or for worse and should be made with the help of a qualified financial professional. IRAs, 401(k)s, and other qualified plans allow for penalty-free withdrawals beginning after age 59.5. For more information regarding retirement planning for your specific situation, contact Harding Financial Group today.

Your retirement income can come from a number of sources, such as investment accounts, personal savings, pension plans, employer-sponsored retirement plans, Individual retirement accounts (IRAs), nonqualified plans, deferred compensation agreements, trusts, liquidation of a business or real estate, annuities, part-time employment, and in some cases life insurance policies.

Our thorough reporting quantifies your portfolio’s investment performance, net of fees, over several measurable time periods (quarterly, year-to-date, year-over-year, inception-to-date) in relation to a comparative index most closely aligned with your investment profile (e.g. Morningstar Balanced (60/40) Index, Morningstar Growth (75/25) Index, etc.) Additionally, we have performance reviews with our clients every year to recap investment performance, discuss investment strategy moving forward, and evaluate if there have been any changes in your life that would materially change your financial plan or the investment decisions we make within your portfolio.

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