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Eight Mistakes That Can Upend Your Retirement

Pursuing your retirement dreams is challenging enough without making some common, and very avoidable, mistakes. Here are eight big mistakes to steer clear of, if possible.

No Strategy: Yes, the biggest mistake is having no strategy at all. Without a strategy, you may have no goals, leaving you no way of knowing how you’ll get there—and if you’ve even arrived. Creating a strategy may increase your potential for success, both before and after retirement.

Frequent Trading: Chasing “hot” investments often leads to despair. Create an asset allocation strategy that is properly diversified to reflect your objectives, risk tolerance, and time horizon; then make adjustments based on changes in your personal situation, not due to market ups and downs.1

Not Maximizing Tax-Deferred Savings: Workers have tax-advantaged ways to save for retirement. Not participating in your employer’s 401(k) may be a mistake, especially when you’re passing up free money in the form of employer-matching contributions.2

Prioritizing College Funding over Retirement: Your kids’ college education is important, but you may not want to sacrifice your retirement for it. Remember, you can get loans and grants for college, but you can’t for your retirement.

Overlooking Healthcare Costs: Extended care may be an expense that can undermine your financial strategy for retirement if you don’t prepare for it.

Not Adjusting Your Investment Approach Well Before Retirement: The last thing your retirement portfolio can afford is a sharp fall in stock prices and a sustained bear market at the moment you’re ready to stop working. Consider adjusting your asset allocation in advance of tapping your savings so you’re not selling stocks when prices are depressed.3

Retiring with Too Much Debt: If too much debt is bad when you’re making money, it can be deadly when you’re living in retirement. Consider managing or reducing your debt level before you retire.

It’s Not Only About Money: Above all, a rewarding retirement requires good health, so maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, stay socially involved, and remain intellectually active.

  1. The return and principal value of stock prices will fluctuate as market conditions change. And shares, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Asset allocation and diversification are approaches to help manage investment risk. Asset allocation and diversification do not guarantee against investment loss. Past performance does not guarantee future results.
  2. Under the SECURE Act, in most circumstances, you must begin taking required minimum distributions from your 401(k) or other defined contribution plan in the year you turn 72. Withdrawals from your 401(k) or other defined contribution plans are taxed as ordinary income, and if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty.”
  3. The return and principal value of stock prices will fluctuate as market conditions change. And shares, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Asset allocation is an approach to help manage investment risk. Asset allocation does not guarantee against investment loss. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

A financial professional can help: If you’re a woman concerned about saving for retirement or have questions about your unique situation, give us a call. Our team understands the unique challenges women face, and we’re passionate about helping women just like you plan for a comfortable retirement. Contact us and let’s get started. Email retire@herretirement.com.

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2022 FMG Suite.

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Does Your Portfolio Fit Your Retirement Lifestyle?

Most portfolios are constructed based on an individual’s investment objective, risk tolerance, and time horizon.

Using these inputs and sophisticated portfolio-optimization calculations, most investors can feel confident that they own a well-diversified portfolio, appropriately positioned to pursue their long-term goals.1

However, as a retiree, how you choose to live in retirement may be an additional factor to consider when building your portfolio.

Starting a Business?

Using retirement funds to start a business entails significant risk. If you choose this path, you may want to consider reducing the risk level of your investment portfolio to help compensate for the risk you’re assuming with a new business venture.

Since a new business is unlikely to generate income right away, you may want to construct your portfolio with an income orientation in order to provide you with current income until the business can begin turning a profit.

Traveling for Extended Periods of Time?

There are a number of good reasons to consider using a professional money manager for your retirement savings. Add a new one. If you are considering extended travel that may keep you disconnected from current events (even modern communication), investing in a portfolio of individual securities that requires constant attention may not be an ideal approach. For this lifestyle, professional management may suit your retirement best.2

Rethink Retirement Income?

Market volatility can undermine your retirement-income strategy. While it may come at the expense of some opportunity cost, there are products and strategies that may protect you from drawing down on savings when your portfolio’s value is falling—a major cause of failed income approaches.

  1. Diversification and portfolio optimization calculations are approaches to help manage investment risk. They do not eliminate the risk of loss if security prices decline.
  2. Keep in mind that the return and principal value of security prices will fluctuate as market conditions change. And securities, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Individuals cannot invest directly in an index.
  3.  
    A financial professional can help: If you’re a woman concerned about saving for retirement or have questions about your unique situation, give us a call. Our team understands the unique challenges women face, and we’re passionate about helping women just like you plan for a comfortable retirement. Contact us and let’s get started. Email retire@herretirement.com.

 

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2022 FMG Suite.

 

 

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Emotional vs. Strategic Decisions

Information vs. instinct. When it comes to investing, many people believe they have a “knack” for choosing good investments. But what exactly is that “knack” based on? The fact is, the choices we make with our assets can be strongly influenced by factors, many of them emotional, that we may not even be aware of.

Investing involves risks. Remember that investment decisions should be based on your own goals, time horizon, and risk tolerance. The return and principal value of investments will fluctuate as market conditions change. When sold, investments may be worth more or less than their original cost.

Deal du jour. You’ve heard the whispers, the “next greatest thing” is out there, and you can get on board, but only if you hurry. Sound familiar? The prospect of being on the ground floor of the next big thing can be thrilling. But while there really are great new opportunities out there once in a while, those “hot new investments” can often go south quickly. Jumping on board without all the information can be a mistake. A disciplined investor may turn away from spur-of-the-moment trends and seek out solid, proven investments with consistent returns.

Risky business. Many people claim not to be risk-takers, but that isn’t always the case. Most disciplined investors aren’t reluctant to take a risk. But they will attempt to manage losses. By keeping your final goals in mind as you weigh both the potential gain and potential loss, you may be able to better assess what risks you are prepared to take.

You can’t always know what’s coming. Some investors attempt to predict the future based on the past. As we all know, just because a stock rose yesterday, that doesn’t mean it will rise again today. In fact, performance does not guarantee future results.

The gut-driven investor. Some investors tend to pull out of investments the moment they lose money, then invest again once they feel “driven” to do so. While they may do some research, they are ultimately acting on impulse. This method of investing may result in losses.

Eliminating emotion. Many investors “stir up” their investments when major events happen, including births, marriages, or deaths. They seem to get a renewed interest in their stocks and/or begin to second-guess the effectiveness of their long-term strategies. A financial professional can help you focus on your long-term objectives and may help you manage being influenced by short-term whims.

A financial professional can help: If you’re a woman concerned about saving for retirement or have questions about your unique situation, give us a call. Our team understands the unique challenges women face, and we’re passionate about helping women just like you plan for a comfortable retirement. Contact us and let’s get started. Email retire@herretirement.com. 

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG, LLC, is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2022 FMG Suite.

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A Bucket Plan to Go with Your Bucket List

John and Mary are nearing retirement and they have a lot of items on their bucket list. Longer life expectancies mean John and Mary may need to prepare for two or even three decades of retirement. How should they position their money?1

One approach is to segment your expenses into three buckets:

  • Basic Living Expenses— Food, Rent, Utilities, etc.
  • Discretionary Spending — Vacations, Dining Out, etc.
  • Legacy Assets — for heirs and charities

Next, pair appropriate investments to each bucket. For instance, Social Security might be assigned to the Basic Living Expenses bucket.2

For the discretionary spending bucket, you might consider investments that pay a steady dividend and that also offer the potential for growth.3

Finally, list the Legacy assets that you expect to pass on to your heirs and charities.

A bucket plan can help you be better prepared for a comfortable retirement.

Call today and we can develop a strategy that may help you put enough money in your buckets to complete all the items on your bucket list.

  1. John and Mary are a hypothetical couple used for illustrative purposes only. Diversification is an approach to help manage investment risk. It does not eliminate the risk of loss if security prices decline.
  2. Social Security benefits may play a more limited role in the future and some financial professional recommend creating a retirement income strategy that excludes Social Security payments.
  3. A company’s board of directors can stop, decrease or increase the dividend payout at any time. Investments offering a higher dividend may involve a higher degree of risk. Keep in mind that the return and principal value of stock prices will fluctuate as market conditions change. Shares, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost.

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2022 FMG Suite.

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Conquering Retirement Challenges for Women

When it comes to retirement, women may face unique obstacles that can make saving for retirement more challenging. Given that women typically live longer than men, retirement money for women may need to stretch even further.1

Despite these challenges, a wise strategy can give women reasons to be hopeful.

Get clear on your vision.

Do you want to spend your retired years traveling, or do you envision staying closer to home? Are you seeing yourself moving to a retirement community, or do you want to live as independently as you can? If you’re married, sit down with your spouse to discuss your visions for retirement.

You can’t see if you’re on track for your goals if you haven’t defined them. If you do find you’re falling short of where you want to be, a financial professional can help you strategize about how you can either get to where you want to go or adjust your strategy to fit your situation.

Get creative with your strategy.

If you expect to or have taken time off from the workforce, you may want to increase your contributions to your retirement accounts while you are working. If you’re staying home while your spouse works, you may be able to contribute to an individual retirement account.

Once you reach age 72, you must begin taking required minimum distributions from a Traditional Individual Retirement Account and other retirement plans in most circumstances. Withdrawals from Traditional IRAs are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Traditional IRA contributions may be fully or partially deductible, depending on your adjusted gross income.

Look for sources of additional income.

If you’re caregiving for an elderly relative, there are ways to be paid for your time. According to AARP, the Veteran’s Administration or Medicaid may be a potential source of income. Working with a professional who has expertise in this field can help you navigate your options and potentially find a way to earn income for work that you’re doing.2

Keep the conversation open.

One of the best things you can do is to make sure you are having regular conversations about finances and hearing from well-informed sources. There are more resources than ever at your disposal, and working with a trusted financial professional can help ensure that you always know where things stand.

While women can face many challenges as they save for retirement, careful preparation and a creative approach can help you rise to the occasion and pursue the fulfillment of your goals.

If you have questions or need help, send us an email.

1. Transamerica.com, 2021
2. AARP.org, 2021

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG, LLC, is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2022 FMG Suite.

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Do Our Biases Affect Our Financial Choices?

Investors are routinely warned about allowing their emotions to influence their decisions. However, they are not often cautioned about their preconceptions and biases that may color their financial choices.

In a battle between the facts & biases, our biases may win. If we acknowledge this tendency, we may be able to avoid some unexamined choices when it comes to personal finance. It may actually “pay” to recognize blind spots and biases with investing. Here are some common examples of bias creeping into our financial lives.

Letting emotions run the show.

How many investment decisions do we make that have a predictable outcome? Hardly any. In retrospect, it is all too easy to prize the gain from a decision over the wisdom of the decision and to, therefore, believe that the findings with the best outcomes were the best decisions (not necessarily true). Put some distance between your impulse to make a change and the action you want to take to help get some perspective on how your emotions affect your investment decisions.1

Valuing facts we “know” & “see” more than “abstract” facts.

Information that seems abstract may seem less valid or valuable than information related to personal experience. This is true when we consider different types of investments, the state of the markets, and the economy’s health.1

Valuing the latest information most.

The latest news is often more valuable than old news in the investment world. But when the latest news is consistently good (or consistently bad), memories of previous market climate(s) may become too distant. If we are not careful, our minds may subconsciously dismiss the eventual emergence of the next market cycle.1

Being overconfident.

The more experienced we are at investing, the more confidence we have about our investment choices. When the market is going up, and a clear majority of our investment choices work out well, this reinforces our confidence, sometimes to a point where we may start to feel we can do little wrong, thanks to the state of the market, our investing acumen, or both. This can be dangerous.2

The herd mentality.

You know how this goes: if everyone is doing something, they must be doing it for sound and logical reasons. The herd mentality leads some investors to buy high (and sell low). It can also promote panic selling. The advent of social media hasn’t helped with this idea. Above all, it encourages market timing, and when investors try to time the market, it can influence their overall performance.3

Sometimes, asking ourselves what our certainty is based on and reflecting on ourselves can be helpful and informative. Examining our preconceptions may help us as we invest.

1. Investopedia.com, 2022
2. Investopedia.com, 2021
3. WebMD.com, 2022

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG, LLC, is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2022 FMG Suite.

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Investment Basics

Why invest? 

To keep ahead of inflation. 

Inflation has reduced the purchasing power of your dollars over time. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average annual inflation rate since 1914 has been around 3%. If $100 is $100 today, it would cost $181 in 20 years. Inflation has skyrocketed, but most experts agree it will settle back down. Investing in stocks is your best hedge against inflation.

To take advantage of compound interest. 

Anyone with a savings account understands the basics of compounding: the funds in your savings account earn interest, and that interest is added to your account balance; the next time interest is calculated, it’s based on the increased value of your account. In effect, you earn interest on your interest. 

Many people, however, don’t fully appreciate the impact compounded earnings can have, especially over a long period. To benefit from the longest possible investment period, the sooner you start investing, the more time your investments have for potential growth. Waiting too long can make it very difficult to catch up. 

Consider the examples. Let’s say you invest $5,000 a year for 30 years. After 30 years, you will have invested a total of $150,000. Yet, assuming your funds grow at precisely 6% each year because of compounding, you will have over $395,000 after 30 years. This is a hypothetical example and is not intended to reflect the actual performance of any specific investment. Taxes and investment fees, and expenses are not reflected. If they were, the results would have been lower. 

Investing is Risky Business

Investing is different for every individual. The investment plan that’s right for you depends mainly on the level of comfort you have when it comes to risk. You can’t completely avoid risk when it comes to investing, but it’s possible for you to manage it. 

Investors are typically grouped into three categories for purposes of discussing risk tolerance: 

  • Aggressive: those who have a high degree of risk tolerance 
  • Moderate: those willing to accept a modest amount of risk 
  • Conservative: those who have low risk tolerance 

When it comes to investing, there’s a direct relationship between risk and potential return. This is true for investment portfolios as well as for individual investments. More risk means a greater potential return but also a greater chance of loss. Conversely, less risk means lower potential returns and less likelihood of loss. This is known as the risk/return tradeoff. You can’t have it all. There’s a relationship between growth, income, and the stability of our investments, and when we move closer to one, we generally move away from another. This is a dilemma all investors face. 

Managing Risk 

Only you can know your risk tolerance level when it comes to investing. Let’s now look at the types of investments and their level of risk and return.

Cash alternatives 

Cash alternatives are low-risk, short-term, and relatively liquid instruments that you may use. 

Advantages:

  • To provide you with relative stability 
  • To maintain a ready source of cash for emergencies or other purposes 
  • To serve as a temporary parking place for assets until you decide where to put your money longer term 

Examples of cash alternatives include: 

  • Certificates of deposit (CDs) 
  • Money market deposit accounts 
  • Money market mutual funds 
  • U.S. Treasury bills (T-bills) 

 

Now let’s talk about the next instrument: bonds. 

Bonds are essentially loans to a government or corporation, which is why they’re called “debt instruments.” Bonds are issued in denominations as low as $1,000. The interest rate (or coupon rate), which can be fixed or floating, is set in advance, and interest payments are generally paid semiannually. Bond maturity dates range from 1 to 30 years. However, bonds don’t need to be held until they mature. Once issued, they can be traded like any other type of security. Currently, bonds are at historic lows, so many experts are suggesting people replace the bonds in their portfolios with alternatives. You can listen to episode 56 of the Her Retirement Podcast, What’s Better Than Bonds, to further understand what’s happening with bonds and what are some alternatives.

Bonds include: 

  • U.S. government securities 
  • Agency bonds 
  • Municipal bonds 
  • Corporate bonds

Now I’m going to go over Stocks. 

When you buy company stock, you’re actually purchasing a share of ownership in that business. Investors who purchase stock are known as the company’s stockholders or shareholders. Your percentage of ownership in a company also represents your share of the risks taken and profits generated by the company. If the company does well, your share of the total earnings will be proportionate to how much of the company’s stock you own. 

The flip side, of course, is that your share of any loss will be similarly proportionate to your percentage of ownership. If you purchase stock, you can make money in two ways. First, corporate earnings may be distributed as dividends, usually paid quarterly. Second, you can sell your shares. If the value of the company’s stock has increased since you purchased it, you will make a profit. Of course, if the value of the stock has declined, you’ll lose money. 

Types of stock 

  • Stock is commonly categorized by the market value of the company that issues the stock. For example, large-cap stocks describe shares issued by the largest corporations. Other general categories include midcap, small-cap, and microcap. 
  • Growth stocks are usually characterized by corporate earnings that are increasing faster than their industry average or the overall market. 
  • Value stocks are typically characterized by selling at a low multiple of a company’s sales, earnings, or book value. 
  • Income stocks generally offer higher dividend yields than market averages and typically fall into the utility and financial sectors and other well-established industries. 

Common vs. preferred stock 

Common stockholders hold many rights, including the right to vote. However, common stockholders are last in line to claim the earnings and assets of the company. They receive dividends at the board of directors’ discretion and only after all other claims on profits have been satisfied. 

Preferred stockholders are given priority over holders of common stock when it comes to dividends and assets. Preferred stockholders do not receive all of the privileges of ownership given to common stockholders, including the right to vote. Preferred stockholders typically receive a fixed dividend payment, usually quarterly. For preferred stockholders, there is less return potential than for common stockholders; there is less risk. 

Let’s talk about Mutual Funds. 

The principle behind a mutual fund is quite simple. Your money is pooled, along with the money of other investors, into a fund, which then invests in certain securities according to a stated investment strategy. The fund is managed by a fund manager who reports to a board of directors. By investing in the fund, you own a piece of the total portfolio of its securities, which could be anywhere from a few dozen to hundreds of stocks. This provides you with both a convenient way to obtain professional money management and instant diversification that would be more difficult and expensive to achieve on your own. 

Another concept I want to explain is active vs. passive management 

An actively managed fund is one in which the fund manager uses their knowledge and research to actively buy and sell securities in an attempt to beat a benchmark. A passively managed account called an index fund typically buys and holds most or all securities represented in a specific index (for example, the S&P 500 index). 

The objective of an index fund is to try to obtain roughly the same rate of return as the index it mimics. Funds are commonly named and classified according to their investment style or objective: 

  • Money market mutual funds invest solely in cash or cash alternatives. 
  • Bond funds invest solely in bonds.
  • Stock funds invest exclusively in stocks. Stock mutual funds can also be classified based on the size of the companies in which the fund invests–for example, large-cap, mid-cap, and small-cap. 
  • Balanced funds invest in both bonds and stocks. 
  • International funds seek investment opportunities outside the U.S. Before investing in a mutual fund, carefully consider its investment objectives, risks, fees, and expenses, which can be found in the prospectus available from the fund. Get a copy and review it carefully before investing. 

Now let’s cover Dollar Cost Averaging

Many mutual fund investors use an investment strategy called dollar-cost averaging. With dollar-cost averaging, rather than investing a single lump sum, you invest small amounts of money at regular intervals, no matter how the market is performing. Your goal is to purchase more shares when the price is low and fewer shares when the price is high. Although dollar-cost averaging can’t guarantee you a profit or avoid a loss, a regular fixed dollar investment may result in a lower average cost per share than if you had bought a fixed number of shares each time, assuming you continue to invest through all types of markets. 

For example, let’s say you decide to invest $300 each month toward your child’s college education. Because you invest the same amount each month, you automatically buy more shares when prices are low and fewer shares when prices are high. You find that your average cost per share is less than the average market price per share over the time you invested. 

On to another concept called Asset Allocation.

It’s almost universally accepted that any portfolio should include a mix of investments. That is, a portfolio should contain investments with varying levels of risk to help minimize exposure. Asset allocation is one of the first steps in creating a diversified investment portfolio. 

Asset allocation is the concept of deciding how your investment dollars should be allocated among broad investment classes, such as stocks, bonds, and cash alternatives. The underlying principle is that different classes of investments have shown different rates of return and levels of price volatility over time. Also, since other asset classes often respond differently to the same news, your stocks may go down while your bonds go up, or vice versa. Diversifying your investments over non-correlated or low-correlated asset classes can help you lower the overall volatility of your portfolio. However, diversification does not ensure a profit or guarantee against the possibility of loss. 

How do you choose the mix that’s right for you? Many resources are available to assist in asset allocation, including interactive tools and sample allocation models. Most of these take into account several variables: 

  • Objective variables (e.g., your age, the financial resources available to you, your time frames, your need for liquidity) 
  • Subjective variables (e.g., your tolerance for risk, your outlook on the economy) 

Ultimately, though, you’ll want to choose a mix of investments that has the potential to provide the return you want at the level of risk you feel comfortable with. For that reason, it makes sense to work with a financial professional to gauge your risk tolerance, then tailor a portfolio to your risk profile and financial situation. 

Factors that should be considered: 

  • Diversification 
  • Risk tolerance 
  • Investment time frames 
  • Personal financial situation 
  • Liquidity needs

Asset Allocation–Sample Models 

Conservative 

Everyone’s situation is unique. Nevertheless, in general, conservative asset allocation models will invest heavily in bonds and cash alternatives, with the primary goal of preserving principal.

This asset allocation suggestion should be used as a guide only and is not intended as financial advice. It should not be relied upon. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. 

Moderate 

In comparison, a moderate asset allocation model will attempt to balance income and growth by allocating significant investment dollars to both stocks and bonds. This asset allocation suggestion should be used as a guide only and is not intended as financial advice; it should not be relied upon. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. 

Aggressive 

An aggressive asset allocation model will concentrate heavily on stocks and potential growth. This asset allocation suggestion should be used as a guide only and is not intended as financial advice. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. 

How a Financial Professional Can Help 

As you’ve seen, there’s a lot to consider when investing. A financial professional or  retirement advisor can help you: 

  • Determine your investment goals, timelines, and risk tolerance 
  • Evaluate markets and investments 
  • Create an asset allocation model 
  • Select specific investments 
  • Manage and monitor your portfolio 
  • Modify your portfolio when necessary 

 

I hope you’ve found some value in this Investment Basics overview. There’s so much more to investing, but this will give you the basics you should know. I encourage you to listen to Episode 56: “What’s Better Than Bonds?” for an overview of the issue with bonds in a pre-retirees and retirees portfolio. Also, listen to Episode 10: “Retirement Portfolio Design for a Changing Economy.” While Her Retirement does not provide investment advice, we seek to help women understand investing topics so that more information conversation can happen and more informed decisions can be made. It’s all about knowing more and having more. Let’s Get Her Done. Thanks for listening.

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Retirement Strategies for Women

Preparing for retirement can look a little different for women than it does for men. Although stereotypes are changing, women are still more likely to serve as caretakers than men are, meaning they may accumulate less income and benefits due to their time absent from the workforce. Research shows that 31% of women are currently or have been caregivers during their careers. Women who are working also tend to put less money aside for retirement. According to one report, women contribute 30% less to their retirement accounts than men.1,2

These numbers may seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to be a statistic. With a little foresight, you can start taking steps now, which may help you in the long run. Here are three steps to consider that may put you ahead of the curve.

  1. Talk about money.Nowadays, discussing money is less taboo than it’s been in the past, and it’s crucial to taking control of your financial future. If you’re single, consider writing down your retirement goals and keeping them readily accessible. If you have a partner, make sure you are both on the same page regarding your retirement goals. The more comfortably you can talk about your future, the more confident you may be to make important decisions when they come up.
  1. Be proactive about your retirement.Do you have clear, defined goals for what you want your retirement to look like? And do you know where your retirement accounts stand today? Being proactive with your retirement accounts allows you to create a goal-oriented roadmap. It may also help you adapt when necessary and continue your journey regardless of things like relationship status or market fluctuations.
  2. Make room for your future in your budget.Adjust your budget to allow for retirement savings, just as you would for a new home or your dream vacation. Like any of your other financial goals, you may find it beneficial to review your retirement goals on a regular basis to make sure you’re on track.

Retirement may look a little different for women, but with the right strategies – and support – you’ll be able to live the retirement you’ve always dreamed of.

  1. Transamerica.com, 2021
  2. GAO.gov, 2021

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG, LLC, is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2022 FMG Suite.

If you have any questions about women and retirement planning, reach out to Lynn at lynnt@herretirement.com.

 

Do’s & Don’ts of Finding the Right Retirement Advice

First off, I’m NOT an advisor. I’m a retirement researcher, writer and educator. I have a few Do’s and Don’ts to consider as you begin planning your retirement and finding the right person/people to help you go from Savings (401k, etc.) to Security (creating an income for life from your 401k).

  1. DON’T listen to a neighbor, a friend or even that friendly financial/investment advisor who’s probably not well versed in retirement planning and is biased toward investments. The insurance advisor is biased toward insurance. And the big companies in both camps spend a lot of money to spread their version of the truth. Looks for a “retirement advisor” who’s license in both investments and insurance and therefore, doesn’t have the bias of one vs. the other. They should be dedicated and taking the time to educate you about this retirement planning process and all the strategies they are recommending vs. just saying “it’s a good idea because I said so.” All professional service providers make money….they must be paid like everyone else. Just make sure they are 100% transparent in their fees.
  2. DO listen to retirement researchers, academics and economists who focus on retirement planning and there are plenty.
  3. DO base you decisions on research…always ask Why? and ask for the data to support an advisor’s/friend’s recommendation.
  4. The right answer can only be found by answering a number of questions about you and your goals, along with analyzing what you’ve got, what you’ll have, and what you’ll need. And then finding the best combination of strategies to make your money lasts throughout retirement.
  5. You’ll need to have an open mind as it relates to retirement/distribution strategies because they are completely different than the accumulation phase of life.
  6. The traditional 60/40 portfolio is dead. As you approach and enter retirement, you’ll need a portfolio strategy that reduces your risk, while also being positioned to take advantage of growth. You MUST mitigate volatility in retirement. There are a number of ways to do this. With the current low bond returns, you should seek alternatives. For some that may include Fixed Indexed Annuities. For others, it may be structured investments. Stocks will always be a part of your portfolio, albeit a smaller part.
  7. DON’T work with an advisor who knows nothing about tax planning for retirement…and most CPAs don’t know how to do pro-active retirement planning. A true retirement advisor knows how to integrate tax efficient withdrawal strategies into your income distribution plan so that you keep as much of your hard earned money as possible. This may be one of the most important strategies. Side note: ask them about Roth Conversions…2020 may be a perfect storm for Roths for many people.
  8. DO make sure your portfolio is stress tested and proven to last in ALL market environments.
  9. DON’T let anyone guess as to when you should take Social Security. This accounts for 33% of your income in retirement (in most cases) and must be incorporated into your overall income planning. The answer as to when depends on a lot of factors. Also, Social Security must be included in your tax picture as well. Since 85% of your benefit could be taxable without the right planning.
  10. DO find out if they are aware of MAGI and Medicare (and the impact on how much you’ll pay for Medicare). Make sure they have resources to help you navigate the Medicare maze.
  11. DO find out if they help you find ways to fund a Long Term Care policy, if needed?
  12. DO consider a reverse mortgage as an emergency income buffer…this is a perfect example of when having an open mind is important. Find out what the retirement academics say about reverse mortgages. And, no, they can’t take your house away if you follow some basic rules, like paying your taxes. And no, the bank doesn’t own your home. Take the time to find the facts vs. listening to hearsay.
  13. DO find out if the advisor you’re considering working with has a team of providers to help you with other ancillary needs.

I do believe it’s impossible for the layperson (and most of the 300,000 financial advisors in this country), to do ALL of the proper retirement planning that must be done to improve and secure your retirement outcome.

Fortunately or unfortunately, advisors, like many other for-profit companies have to make money. But, with the right advisor you won’t question their fees…their value will be evident in everything they do for you. DO make sure they are committed to spending whatever time you need to be 100% confident in your plan and are acting in your best interests. And there’s nothing wrong with checking their references.

Finally, most of us have good intuition when choosing our professionals. Get to know him/her. Ask about his/her family. Ask about their perspectives on finances and life. Ask why they do what they do. Find out a lot about this person personally, and then dig into their “retirement planning” experience.

It’s easy for an advisor to give you credentials and pretty reports and look good on the surface. But dig a little deeper and you might be able to discover if he or she is the real deal.

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Volatility: What’s the Best Defense?

Thoughts and ideas on the recent market losses and volatility due to the Coronavirus scare, and general economic and political uncertainty. Recent panic caused by the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to a stock market decline and has many investors feeling anxious. While portfolios will see ups and downs and this is a normal part of investing, the recent sell-off was sharp. It is in times like these that our team can best serve you by providing perspective on how we see these issues playing out.

The Best Defense is a Strong Offense
Nobody knows where the market is heading. Therefore, we believe that research and pro-actively planning, and implementing strategies that factor in potential significant drops in the market is critical. This is a strong offensive play in the world of portfolio planning (especially for those closing in on retirement). And what we consider to be the best defense to market volatility.

When the market heads up, and we get by this event-driven volatility, having a portfolio that has allocations to global equities to take advantage of market growth is critical. And if the market continues to fall, it’s critical to protect your principal with allocations to Fixed Indexed Annuities.

Either way, this “Hybrid Income Portfolio” strategy balances protection and growth, regardless of where the market heads. This is especially significant now, as equity prices are coming off all-time highs and bond prices are also high, as their yields have fallen to all-time lows. As we have seen recently, market conditions can change quickly in both directions.

For these reasons and more, we believe a Hybrid Income Portfolio to be a powerful alternative to other portfolio strategies. It’s also backed by academic research and has proven itself time and time again.*

The Impact on the Global Economy
Though the impact on human life is at the forefront of everyone’s concerns, there are many uncertainties surrounding the potential impact of the virus to the global economy. The global economy was already fragile from the nearly two-year-long U.S.-China trade war and the spreading virus will likely impact economic growth. While more equity market weakness is possible as the virus continues to grow globally, the downside could be limited as governments and global central banks have possible tools to combat the potential death toll and economic impact.

From the human life perspective, China took severe steps to limit the spread of the virus including forced quarantines, limited social contact, and significant population testing. We expect other inflicted nations to follow suit. From an economic perspective, global central banks including the People’s Bank of China and the Bank of Korea have already increased monetary stimulus or plan to do so. As we have seen in the U.S., and, specifically the U.S. housing market, over the past year, easing monetary policy can provide a potential economic stopgap. Furthermore, in the U.S., given unemployment levels near 50-year lows, the consumer, the driver of the current economic expansion, remains in good shape. We do expect market uncertainty to continue but downside may be limited. We also think the impact to markets will vary by sector. Sectors related to travel, such as cruise lines, airlines, and hotels are already taking a hit. Online entertainment companies and streaming services are performing better.

The team here at Retire Smart Network will continue to monitor and update information about our nation’s financial and physical health. If you’d like to discuss your portfolio strategy with a retirement planner or have a question about any retirement/financial topic, simply reach out and we’ll make it happen.

P.S. Don’t forget the Best Defense is a Strong Offense when it comes to protecting your health too…proper hand washing, eating right, getting enough sleep, avoiding sick people, stocking up on meds, food, water and household supplies, and having an attitude of positivity and gratefulness. Worrying about health or finances isn’t a productive use of time. Embrace optimism and reach out to us at any time.

*Sources:

  1. Morningstar Analysis, June 23, 2017, Snapshot Report.
  2. Roger G. Ibbotson, PhD Chairman & Chief Investment Officer, Zebra Capital Management, LLC Professor Emeritus of Finance, Yale School of Management Email: ZebraEdge@Zebracapital.com, Fixed Indexed Annuities: Consider the Alternative, January 2018.
  3. Shift Away from Potential Risk and Toward Potential Return, Nationwide (Morningstar), 06/16.