Financial advisors say, ‘retirement starts with you’ – Santa Clarita Valley Signal

By Jose Herrera

Signal Staff Writer

Gabriel Bibby, 74, spends much of his time with his wife, three kids and grandchildren. 

They go to the park, watch movies, and he enjoys watching his grandkids do the things they love the most like sports and drama. That’s the life he loves – being with his loved ones as much as possible. 

And though he’s at the point of his life where he could be retired, he chooses to work part-time as an Uber driver three to four times a week.

“It’s in my nature, my personality,” Bibby said. “I’m far from retiring because I don’t know how to sit down and go golfing, read, or swim for hours. I need to be functioning (working), and I found that Uber gave me a platform and flexibility to work when I can.”

Bibby likes to work. He worked at IMS Autoparts Wholesale before he started at Uber. He said he’s worked at least for 54 years of his life and will continue as long as his health and God allow him to. 

He started a family young, and although he would worry about his future and retirement, he didn’t have much time to think about it when he had to raise and support his family.

However, throughout the years and thanks to advice from family members, he slowly started saving money and investing in the housing market. 

“I invested that money in the same process, which enabled me in the 90s to buy a bigger house in Santa Clarita,” Bibby said. “We sold the house and downsized from the bigger house.” 

Now, he lives with his wife in Friendly Valley Country Club, a gated retirement senior living community in Santa Clarita. Although, he receives financial aid from Social Security, income from his time with Uber, and from a few financial assets, he still wonders if he can sustain his lifestyle. 

Manya Prybyla, a realtor, said she works a lot with the senior community, and many of them are retirees. She helps them sell their house that they’re leaving and find a suitable home in Friendly Valley, or in other senior-living communities.

Friendly Valley is a senior living community where older adults can be secure, stay active, and still afford their lifestyle, according to Prybyla.  She added the community offers a variety of amenities and activities that brings older adults into a community.

“It’s a big change,” Prybyla said. “They had a house full of kids and people, and now life is quieter. You don’t have all that activity, and you don’t need all that room.”

The idea of retirement can be a daunting one as many people don’t fully comprehend what it takes to retire, or because a lot of people are uncomfortable or fearful of the topic of money, according to Patti Handy, a financial advisor at Vance Wealth. 

She added that typically society will say that once a person reaches the age of 65, that’s the time to retire, but that isn’t always true as some people will retire sooner or others like Bibby will want to continue working as long as they can. 

“There is no magic number,” Handy said. “It also just depends on your lifestyle. It depends on how much you’re spending every month in terms of your monthly obligations.”

Retirement is a “very personal decision,” she said. Handy has worked with clients with healthy portfolios – their investable assets which include IRS or 401ks, any investments, taxable accounts, mutual funds, stocks, bonds – but spend too much money and their financial plan is not sustainable. 

Then she discussed the opposite, where clients have small portfolios. But these clients have consistent income which covers their bills, and they are able to save money for the future.

Handy added that the key to retirement is starting young between ages 20 to 30. Jerry Citarella, a financial advisor with Prosperitas Financial and who has spent 14 years in wealth management, agreed with Handy. 

“A lot of people start (saving for retirement) by using something they have at work,” Citarella said. “That’s the way most people do it. They get a job, some sort of 401k plan, or some other company-sponsored retirement plan, and they start contributing to it.”

“Unfortunately, that’s where a lot of people just end it,” he added.

People need to start as they get their first job, he said. Then take a percentage of whatever they make to put it away for retirement, he added. He recommends approximately 10% of a paycheck is a good starting point. 

Both financial advisors agreed that saving money can go a long way and people should be mindful of their spending habits. 

“It’s a world we live in where people see nice things and want them,” Citarella said. “People get caught up in either satisfying themselves with these things that become meaningless.”

Handy said, the important part of planning for retirement, or the future, is where you want to be and how you want to spend your time. 

“Yeah, make it a priority,” Citarella said. “Start early, stay consistent. The only difference is that life is so complicated. Each person lives a different life. So, depending on where you are in that moment, your needs in the way you approach (your financial) plan will change.”