How many stages of retirement are there?

Readers of this blog will know that we often talk about the three well known phases of retirement – “Go Go”, “Slow Go” and “No Go”.

Now, a new study has suggested that there are four stages of retirement, based on a retiree’s activities, interests, and health. According to “Longevity and the New Journey of Retirement”, a study by Edward Jones, Age Wave, and The Harris Poll, these four stages begin some years before an individual stops working.

The first phase, “Anticipation”, begins as many as ten years before an individual retires and is marked by optimism and excitement over the prospect of retiring (along with some anxiety over financial readiness).

The second phase, “Liberation/Disorientation”, runs for the first two years of retirement and is when retirees are excited by new freedoms and the luxury of time, but are also often uncertain about how to spend their time and money.

The heart of retirement is the third phase, “Reinvention”, where retirees learn to shift their mindset from accumulating funds to spending them, and tend to explore their worlds of opportunity the most, while also dealing with slowly rising health issues. These retirees are frequently family-oriented, and this is often the stage when they can identify the right balance of giving, whilst ensuring they have enough assets to maintain their standard of living.

Finally, retirees enter the fourth stage, “Reflection/Resolution”, about 15 years into retirement, when clients have remained resilient even in the face of loss, and have typically learned to live comfortably as their lifestyle stabilizes for the later years of retirement.

Ultimately, the key point is that the phases of retirement are not just qualitative descriptions of the retirees’ experience, but also offer important quantitative insights into how spending might change over the course of retirement. The phases also help you to identify where you might be in your own retirement journey and this self awareness can be valuable. Whilst the study may not describe retirement as well as the intuitive and catchy “Go Go”, “Slow Go” and “No Go” descriptions, they provide yet more evidence that retirement isn’t just one homogenous phase of life, and financial and life planning for retirement should take account of the expected changes.

Philip Wise | philip@sussexretirement.co.uk

Managing Director and Chartered Financial Planner


This guide is for information purposes and does not constitute financial advice, which should be based on your individual circumstances.
The value of investments may go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

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