Kim Gaxiola is a Certified Financial Planner™ and Registered Principal and Founder of TechGirl Financial®.

And she is the creator of the concept of Lean in to Retirement.

She is also a public speaker and educator who spreads the word to inspire as many people as she can about retirement planning, career and financial management, and understanding overall life goals.

“This is the trifecta.” She says. “To make your plans work, you have to know and be able to quantify what your goals are, and be financially disciplined, and it’s hard to do any of that well if you are not happy professionally with your career. You need to make the most of your career while you can, the rest will folllow.”

It’s usually when retirement is on the horizon, when people are starting to worry if they’re doing enough, and saving enough, which prompts them to seek advice.

“It’s the women in their 40s and 50s who tend to contact a financial advisor. Younger people usually can’t yet articulate what they want to do long-term with their life goals.”

“A lot of times it’s the feeling that ‘I’m getting closer to retirement, I’ve been saving, but I don’t know what the money I’ve accumulated means in terms of how I can live my life after work, or how much money I’ll need to achieve those goals.”

Kim says that people really need to take their whole life into consideration, not just the accumulation of wealth.

“Much of the financial industry in general is looking at retirement planning as ‘I need ‘x’ amount of money to retire on and live comfortably. That method is goals based, but I don’t think it does enough to make people really take a look at what they want out of life.”

“I want people, before they even start doing the planning and crunching the numbers, to really envision what it is they want out of life. The question isn’t ‘if I had more money, what would I do?’ the question is ‘given the money you have, how can you make it work for you to free up your time to do the things you enjoy most.’ So, my question to people, and my motto on my website is “What will you do when your money works for you?”

And Kim says that women in general tend to be more risk averse.

“That means in the financial world a more conservative investment strategy, and in the working world it may mean taking the safe route with your career path. You may be in an industry or in a career you don’t enjoy, but you’re there because you know you’re going to get that pay check coming in, and it’s too scary to think of how you could ever make a change to a different direction. With the help of a solid financial foundation and enough living reserves saved up, you can have the luxury to make changes in your career or transition planning when you’re getting closer to retirement. It’s really scary to think of doing something different than what you’re doing right now if you don’t have that tendency to tolerate risk.  Understanding your financial situation and knowing what your worst case scenario is, may be what you need in order to take that leap.”

So then, how does a woman find the courage within herself to take these steps, to risk what she has right now for the possibility of achieving something better? This is the question that Kim helps her clients answer, and empowers them with proper planning. And she wanted to find a way to articulate this idea to anyone who would listen.

In 2013, Kim heard a speech by Sheryl Sandberg, currently the COO of Facebook, and then Kim read Sandberg’s book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, co-written by Nell Scovell. The book examines the challenges and barriers women face that keep them from taking leadership roles in their professions, and Kim was inspired by the whole Lean In concept.

“It really is something that empowers people, it helps professional women achieve their career goals. It was the perfect articulation of what Tech Girl Financial was trying to help women achieve.”

“If  I could retitle this concept for every single person out there, it would be ‘Lean In to…’ and then a line after that for you to fill in whatever it is you want to do more. For me personally it would be lean in to travel, family, entertainment and cooking, because those are my passions, my hobbies. It’s what I would be doing if I had more time. So the idea is to lean in to whatever it is you want to be spending more time doing. But you can only do that if you have given some serious thought to what that would look like for you, and planned for it ahead of time.”

And that’s exactly the kind of service that TechGirl Financial and other Certified Financial Planners provide for people.

Kim has broken her Lean In to Retirement concept into 5 tips.

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Kim Gaxiola’s Tip #1:  Phase In Retirement

“This idea is all about taking time to think about what it is you would like to be doing in the future, outside of your working life, and how you can get there.” Kim says. “This is intended to happen in baby steps because it’s going to be a transition that’s going to unfold over time. It’s not something you’re going to be able to change all at once, like turning off a light switch. Think of it more as a dimmer switch.  You’re going to turn down the career gradually over time, while turning up the dimmer on your passions and hobbies, in order to phase that into your life.”

This doesn’t have to be about retirement only. With proper planning, people can phase out of any unsatisfying situation and phase into a better one.

This can be especially true for working mothers.

“I am personally a working mom, and I come into contact with a lot of other mothers. And every now and then, somebody comes up to me and says, ‘I just can’t do this with the working and the kids. It’s just too much of a juggling act, and everyone is suffering because of it.’ And so they feel an obligation to make this choice between having a career or being a full-time mom. And this actually helped inspire the concept, too.”

“Two clients of mine in particular were both extremely good at what they did. When they finally decided ‘I’m done, I need to spend more time with my family,’ they went to their bosses and said ‘I’m leaving.’ Both of their bosses said ‘you’re too valuable for us to lose, name your terms. How can we make this situation better for you so that you want to stay?’ Those are examples of women making their lives better years before retirement because they were empowered to leverage their talents to achieve a more favorable day-to-day lifestyle.  It can only happen when you are highly valued in your profession and you are financially strong enough to be able to walk away.

“So, this dimmer switch concept of phasing in retirement is reassuring to clients for many reasons, not just the financial reasons I give on my website about letting your money bake a little longer before giving up your pay check entirely. It’s also about the emotions involved in retiring.”

“Turning off the light switch of your career that’s dominated your life for the last 30 or 40 years can be really scary because you may not have any idea what you’re going to do with all your free time. So, being able to phase out work is a nice way to still be challenged, still be able to feel like you’re needed in the work environment, but gradually opening up more free time to start doing the things you’d like to be doing with your family or your hobbies.”

Kim helps her clients realize that they’re not only making themselves happier because they’re phasing in their non-work interests, but that they can also leverage their hard-earned professional value to create a better work/life balance.

And there’s another aspect of the Phase In concept that is great for women.

“I think a lot of women would love to help somebody out.” Kim says. “We’re nurturers in general, and so the idea of mentoring someone younger than us in our profession can be really attractive. I think an option that can be really exciting for younger women and older women is the idea of job sharing.  While one is leaning in to retirement, she can help mentor a younger woman who may be on the verge of leaving work to take care of her family.  The older woman mentors a younger woman into one job. The company really wins in this scenario, because they’ve got two minds for the price of one dedicated to a position, there is mentoring, job training and most importantly job satisfaction for both female employees.  The older woman phases out of her career and the younger professional can balance more time between work and family without having to make the choice of one vs. the other.”

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Go to techgirlfinancial.com to learn about the Lean Into Retirement strategy, and get practical advice on how to begin taking the steps you need to take to ensure a secure and happy retired life.

Read up on all of  Kim’s 5 Tips:
1)  Phase in to Retirement (you’re reading it!)
2)  Lean in to Work
3)  Plan Retirement Goals – Coming Soon!
4)  Create an Exit Strategy – Coming Soon!
5)  Ease in to Retirement – Coming Soon!

Kim’s next tip:  Lean in to Work

The story behind each of the five steps appears here on Moxievoice. Kim will be shares her own expert opinions that go well beyond the practical steps you can find at TechGirl Financial,  she shares her own personal journey as she navigates through this process herself.

TechGirl Financial serves individual clients managing their portfolios, corporate retirement plan benefits such as 401(k)s and profit sharing plans, and provides financial workshops to professional associations, and worksites.

Registered Representative, Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC.  Investment Advisor Representative, Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.  Cambridge and TechGirl Financial are not affiliated.