Navigating The Three Phases of Retirement

Navigating The Three Phases of Retirement
25 Jun 2024

Retirement is not a one-size-fits-all journey but rather a series of stages that individuals navigate over time. Understanding and planning for the distinct phases of retirement—the Go-Go, Slow-Go, and No-Go phases—can help ensure a comfortable and financially confident retirement. Here’s a detailed look at each phase, along with tips on how to plan and navigate them effectively.

The Go-Go Phase

The Go-Go phase is the early period of retirement, typically encompassing the first 10-15 years. Retirees are generally active, healthy, and eager to enjoy their newfound freedom. This phase often involves travel, hobbies, social activities, and other pursuits that may have been deferred during the working years.

Financial Planning Tips:

1. Budget for Increased Spending:

  • During this phase, expenses may be higher due to travel, leisure activities, and possibly supporting adult children or grandchildren. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), households led by individuals aged 65-74 spend an average of $52,356 annually, with a significant portion allocated to entertainment and travel (BLS, 2023).

2. Manage Withdrawals from Retirement Accounts:

  • Create a retirement income strategy for withdrawals from retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s and IRAs that is sustainable. The 4% rule, which suggests withdrawing 4% of your retirement savings annually, is a common guideline, though it should be adjusted based on individual circumstances and market conditions.

3. Maintain a Growth-Oriented Investment Portfolio:

  • While it’s essential to reduce risk, maintaining some growth-oriented investments can help combat inflation and also help ensure that your savings last throughout retirement. A diversified portfolio* with a mix of stocks, bonds, and other assets can help provide a balance between growth and financial well-being.

The Slow-Go Phase

The Slow-Go phase typically begins in the mid-70s and lasts into the early 80s. Retirees may still be active but tend to slow down, with a focus on more sedentary activities. Health issues may start to emerge, necessitating increased medical care and possibly modifying lifestyle choices.

Financial Planning Tips:

1. Adjust the Budget for Changing Needs:

  • As retirees become less active, spending on travel and leisure often decreases. However, healthcare expenses usually rise. According to Fidelity, the average couple aged 65 in 2023 can expect to spend about $300,000 on healthcare in retirement (Fidelity, 2023).

2. Plan for Healthcare and Long-Term Care Costs:

  • Consider purchasing long-term care insurance if not already done. This can help cover the costs of assisted living or nursing home care, which the Genworth 2023 Cost of Care Survey estimates at an average of $93,075 per year for a private room in a nursing home (Genworth, 2023).

3. Reassess Investment Strategies:

  • As the need for income stability increases, shifting more assets into conservative investments like bonds** and fixed-income securities can help preserve capital.

The No-Go Phase

The No-Go phase often starts in the mid-80s and continues for the rest of life. Retirees in this phase usually experience significant declines in health and mobility, leading to a more homebound lifestyle. The focus shifts primarily to maintaining health and securing appropriate care.

Financial Planning Tips:

1. Plan for Estate and Legacy:

  • Finalize estate planning documents, including wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. This helps to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that someone you trust can make decisions on your behalf if necessary.

2. Address Long-Term Care Needs:

  • Evaluate living arrangements to help ensure they meet health and mobility needs. Assisted living facilities, nursing homes, or in-home care services should be considered. Medicaid can be a crucial resource for those with limited financial means.


Retirement is a dynamic journey that evolves through the Go-Go, Slow-Go, and No-Go phases. By understanding the characteristics and financial implications of each phase, retirees can create a robust plan that provides a greater sense of financial confidence for your retirement experience. Proactive planning, continuous reassessment of financial strategies, and adjusting to changing needs are key to navigating these phases successfully.

Important Information: 

*There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.

**Bonds are subject to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rates rise and bonds are subject to availability and change in price.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.

Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

All investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.

Data Sources:

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023). Consumer Expenditures – 2023.
  • Fidelity. (2023). How to Plan for Rising Health Care Costs.
  • Genworth. (2023). Cost of Care Survey.

Premier Investments & Wealth Management