Skip to Content
Older couple dancing at party symbolizing that they are enjoying retirement.
Retirement Planning

Where's my catamaran? Setting smart and realistic retirement goals

Anything from unexpected health care costs to market volatility can derail your dreams. That means it's important to focus on setting smart and realistic goals.

You've probably pictured your dream retirement many times. Maybe it's sailing to new ports on your catamaran or jet-setting to exotic destinations.

Unfortunately, your retirement savings might not match up with that dream lifestyle. And that's especially true when there's the potential for so many speed bumps along your path to retirement. Many people expect retirement to be the most liberating time of their lives. They finally will have the freedom to do all those things they have been putting off, like exploring new places or taking up a new hobby.

For many, however, those dreams aren't aligning with reality. Social Security is rapidly shrinking and there are estimates it could be depleted by 2033.1 That could mean a much smaller payout if you're still a decade (or more) from retirement.

If you're counting on Social Security to make up the majority of your retirement income, you might be in trouble. Unfortunately, many Americans do not have enough saved for retirement to make up for the gap.

According to a report from the Federal Reserve, while three-fourths of non-retired adults have at least some retirement savings, only 36% believe their retirement savings is on track.2 

Right now is the perfect time to dive into what you can do to improve your situation and plan accordingly.

Get realistic about long-term planning

If you are concerned your expectations may not match your retirement reality, give your retirement plan another look and build in some cushion for the unexpected. Consider your current health and potential healthcare needs. Healthcare costs typically increase with age, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For many, it's one of their largest monthly expenses. Ask yourself, have you accounted for increased spending and potential needs? Also think about your current lifestyle. Are you planning on maintaining it while you're in retirement? If that's your goal, you need to have enough set aside to ensure a smooth transition.

Getting smart about retirement

Having a general idea of what you can live on and your spending potential can help set a baseline for you when it comes to mapping out your nest egg. Once you have the outline of a financial plan, it's much easier to evaluate whether your retirement saving or your retirement dreams need to be adjusted.

Hand-in-hand with setting smart goals is proper planning for the long term. Make sure you take care of the basics such as a living will for health emergencies and a last will. Also check your beneficiaries and know what will happen in the event you or your spouse passes away.

Each of these small yet important steps will help you prepare for any bumps along the road. Working with an advisor who understands your particular situation will ensure you are on the right path toward the retirement you want.

1. Social Security Administration, "Summary of the 2021 Annual Reports," 2021. 


Arrows linking indicating relationship

Related Articles

Senior couple sits with their financial professional discussing annuities

Do annuities have beneficiaries

Learn more
Senior couple looking at laptop and paperwork

Retirement income: Is it taxable?

Learn more
Middle-aged female and male seated on a couch facing each other and having a conversation.

Some considerations for planning an early retirement

Learn more
All Learning Center articles are general summaries that can be used when considering your financial future at various life stages. The information presented is for educational purposes and is meant to supplement other information specific to your situation. It is not intended as investment advice and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Protective or its subsidiaries.

Learning Center articles may describe services and financial products not offered by Protective or its subsidiaries. Descriptions of financial products contained in Learning Center articles are not intended to represent those offered by Protective or its subsidiaries.

Neither Protective nor its representatives offer legal or tax advice. We encourage you to consult with your financial adviser and legal or tax adviser regarding your individual situations before making investment, social security, retirement planning, and tax-related decisions. For information about Protective and its products and services, visit

Companies and organizations linked from Learning Center articles have no affiliation with Protective or its subsidiaries.