The 3 Phases of Your Financial Life

Life comes at you fast and it can bring many unexpected obstacles which can have a significant impact on the future ahead. Despite these obstacles, three financial phases of your life will occur whether you are ready for them or not. As fiduciary advisors and co-founders of Global Wealth Management, A. Montgomery Costa and Grant Conness, believe in the importance of understanding the three phases of your financial life and how each step significantly impacts the outcome of retirement.

The three phases of your financial life are the accumulation phase, preservation phase, and distribution phase. Your entire work life is typically spent in the accumulation phase which directly impacts the beginning of the preservation phase and can significantly impact the outcome of your distribution phase as you move into retirement. This is why it has become more important than ever to ensure that you are making the right choices throughout these three stages.

The Accumulation Phase

Save, save, save. Beginning with your very first job and continuing throughout your entire working life, the accumulation phase consists of all the saving you have done during that time.

The accumulation phase is the longest phase for most, and it includes all the blood, sweat, and tears you shed while working late nights, missing out on family events, or working long days and overtime. Think about every job you have ever had; what you save or could have saved throughout this phase adds up as fast as time goes by. Not to mention how much of an impact all that saving will have on the road ahead.

If you simply save $100 a month, after one year your up to $1,200. Do that for 30 years, you’re up to $36,000. Depending on the method you use when saving and if you take advantage of percentage returns that come with 401k plans, or other retirement accounts, that number could potentially skyrocket to upwards of $90,000 to $100,000 depending on the type of account. The earlier the better, but it is never too late to start. How much you save during this time directly affects your preservation phase and the options you might have as you close in on retirement.

The Preservation Phase

This phase consists of everything you do when you begin to prepare and transition from your work life into retirement. You can think of this as the clock winding down on a sporting event. In the beginning of the game, teams make risky moves and do what they can to get ahead as the game plays on. The preservation phase is the portion of the game, when the clock is counting down on the final minutes of play. Teams stop with risky plays and only make smart, precise decisions that can ultimately affect the outcome of the game, or in this case, your upcoming retirement.

While in this phase, you will want to regularly evaluate your financial plan to ensure that it aligns with your retirement goals. You may find that you need to reduce the amount of risk exposure in your investments. Be proactive. Your retirement portfolio is evolving, do what you can to help ensure its evolution is for the better while assessing your risk tolerance and preserving what you have worked so hard for.


The Distribution Phase

The time for retirement has arrived. Your working days are over, and you no longer can depend upon that weekly or bi-weekly paycheck. You have now entered the distribution phase and how you choose to distribute your money can often have a lasting effect on how long it lasts. Researching and investing in the right financial products as well as speaking to a financial advisor can help you create a plan to best fit in line with your goals. Often times choosing the right products can help ensure that you receive the most income from your assets without significantly reducing your principal. It is suggested that the income received during retirement is divided into two main categories, “paycheck” and “play-check.” The purpose is to ensure that your expenses are covered every month without the added stress of setting aside part of your income for expenditures. For most, retirement incomes are typically lower than your previously earned weekly paycheck. Which is why, it is recommended to do a trial run of your monthly spending with a fixed budget at your expected retirement income. From what you learn during this trial period, you can implement and better prepare your retirement plan.


Investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal. Securities offered only by duly registered individuals through Madison Avenue Securities, LLC (MAS), member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered only by duly registered individuals through Global Wealth Management Investment Advisory (GWM), a Registered Investment Advisor. MAS and GWM are not affiliated entities.