How to Create a Retirement Income Strategy That Works

John Stanton |

You’ve worked hard your whole life, and suddenly, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.   You and your spouse have successful careers, the kids are grown, and you may even be close to paying off the mortgage. You find yourself in a place where you can reap the fruits of your years of labor and enjoy life to the fullest. But this scenario won’t happen on its own. How can you develop a sound plan that will generate the income you need to make these dreams a reality?

Plan First

Modern retirement income planning has evolved over the past seven decades. During the 1950s and 60s, about half of the private sector workforce had access to traditional pensions. (1) Now, only 7% of employers offer a traditional pension and about 14% offer a hybrid plan. (2) Additionally, the current traditional investment environment does not offer much in return with conservative options.  

Our practice at The Stanton Group is to design every portfolio based on your financial plan. With this “Plan First” philosophy, we develop a plan that can withstand unforeseen circumstances and is adaptable to market and life changes before we even look at different investment options for retirement. Here’s what this process looks like.

Lifestyle-Driven Planning

The planning process focuses on your lifestyle goals - how and where you want to live and how much it will cost to fund your ideal lifestyle. We divide the predicted expenses into three categories: lifestyle needs, wants, and would-like-to-haves.

Needs are not discretionary and include shelter, food, and insurance, to name a few. Wants are negotiable and involve dining out, travel, hobbies, or club memberships. Finally, the would-like-to-have category could include major family vacations, a boat, or a second home. The items that fall into lifestyle needs versus wants and would-like-to-haves will vary based on what is important to maintain each person’s desired lifestyle.

Once you have the expense planning taken care of, it’s time to analyze how to pay for your lifestyle in retirement.

Setting Up Income Streams

Each category discussed above will have different income streams to fund the expenses generated.


Your next step is to set up your monthly income streams to fund your lifestyle needs. While potential total return on investments is important to the plan, I find it beneficial to think in terms of monthly income or regular cash flow. Your income source for your needs is non-negotiable and must come in on a monthly basis.

There are two strict criteria for this part of your retirement income portfolio:

  1. The investment option must generate an income stream, either now or in the future.
  2. The income must be predictable or guaranteed.  

Some examples of sources that fit these criteria are Social Security, pensions, CDs, treasury or municipal bond income, and annuity income.


To fund the wants part of your lifestyle, examples of possible investments include hybrid, non-guaranteed investments. These could potentially generate your anticipated return fairly reliably, but they would not be guaranteed and would be less safe than the sources of income that will be funding your lifestyle needs.


To fund your would-like-to-haves, you might consider investments that offer growth and capital appreciation so you could use the potential gains to pay for the big-ticket items you would like to have. Non-need investments could include individual stocks, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, and, for those who qualify, private alternative investments. All of these investments are risky and can be volatile, but offer higher potential long-term returns.

Since all your lifestyle needs and wants will already be funded with more reliable lifestyle investments, you can afford to take on more risk with this part of your retirement savings.

Don’t Make This Common Retirement Mistake

Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of depending on unreliable investments to fund their needs and wants. But if those investments decline 40%, as they did during the 2008 recession, how will you cover your non-negotiable expenses while you wait for the market to recover? What if those investments never fully recover their losses?

Currently, about one-third of our clients are retired, and several retired right before 2008. Since we can’t predict the markets, there’s only one thing you can control, and that’s setting up a plan to ensure your essential needs will be paid for, no matter what. If you are ready to create a retirement income plan that will give you control of your life and is adaptable to market conditions and life circumstances,  schedule your complimentary "Get Acquainted"  call with John Stanton. 

About John

John Stanton is the Wealth Advisor at The Stanton Group WP | Seacrest Wealth Management, LLC.  With more than three decades of experience in the financial services industry, he serves as an advisor for clients, focusing on financial planning and the investment strategies to support their financial plan. Based in Naperville, Illinois, John serves clients in Naperville, Aurora, Geneva, Winfield, Plainfield, Darien, and throughout the state. Learn more about John’s services by visiting or connecting with him on LinkedIn.   Schedule your 'Get Acquainted" call with John Stanton 

The Stanton Group WP provides investment advisory services through SeaCrest Wealth Management LLC, (the “SWM”) a registered investment advisor. SWM is a registered investment advisor (“RIA”), with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission located in the State of New York. SeaCrest Wealth Management, LLC can be reached at (914) 502-1900.