retirement savings

To Retire With Confidence, Have A Plan

If you want to retire with confidence, have a plan. 

“As you near retirement age or even within a decade or so, it is time to start doing some serious financial planning,” said Larry Stein, CFA, author of Peace of Mind Investing.

“Retiring with confidence is to develop a plan that makes sense, executing it, and reviewing it at least every five years to make sure you’re on track.”

Stein addresses a number of risks we need to consider – those we know and don’t know. This includes increased longevity, inflation, family responsibilities (such as caring for parents), healthcare, and interest rates. All could have a major affect on finances and lifestyles.

Stein says a couple with both spouses at age 65 today has a 50 percent chance one of them will live past 92, and a 25 percent chance one will live to 97, in which challenges can arise. Unless you have serious health risks or unfortunate heredity, basing your financial planning on a 95-year lifespan makes sense.

Peace of Mind Investing is built on a single premise that’s been time-tested through the Great Depression, two World Wars, and multiple other major events – yet is incredibly simple. The grand premise: stock prices rise over time. Stein’s book boils down to the following key points:

  • First

    • Set return goals that make sense for your personal situation. The only benchmark that would make sense is to achieve your personal goals over a time horizon that fits your specific situation. Your performance goals should be the rate of return you need to live comfortably through retirement. The true measure of investment performance is your return through a full market cycle, up and down. “Beating the S&P 500 or any other such nonsense is pure noise and distraction,” says Stein. 

  • Second

    • Manage risk through asset allocation and rebalancing.

  • Third

    • Trim risk during euphoria and overvaluation; buy during times of fear and undervaluation.

Stein says retirees and pre-retirees must manage risk vigilantly. Withdrawals from a portfolio that sustains significant declines can accelerate the loss in value. Risk management is imperative.

Being Financially Savvy is A Family Business

Like it or not, we’re all involved in running the “family business.”

We worry that our parents might outlive their retirement savings. We’re comforted by the thought that family members would probably bail us out if we got into money trouble. We strive to help our children financially, and we’d like to bequeath them at least part of our nest egg.

In short, our family is our asset, liability, and legacy.

Now here’s the contention: It’s time to build this notion into the way we manage our money.

 Here are just some of the reasons why:

Raising Children

If your children grow up to be financial deadbeats, you may likely rise to the rescue. Indeed, your children could turn out to be your greatest financial liability.

Don’t want your adult children swimming in credit card debt, missing mortgage payments, and constantly asking you for money? Your best bet is to make sure problems never arise by raising money-savvy children.

That’s trickier than it seems. Children grow up spending their parent’s money, so it’s almost inevitable that they will have a skewed financial outlook. After all, for children, all purchases are free, so why should they fret about the price tag or control their desires?

Make your children feel like they’re spending their own money. Give them a candy allowance when they are younger and a clothing allowance when they are teenagers, and insist they live within this budget. This way, instead of you constantly saying “no” to your children, they will learn to say “no” to themselves.

Launching Adult

Once your children get into the work force, you want them to get into the “virtuous financial cycle” where they are steadily building wealth. 

They will become able to own their home rather than renting, buy their cars rather than leasing, fully fund their 401(k) plan and their individual retirement accounts each year, and never carry a credit card balance.

The sooner your 20-something children get into this virtuous cycle, the easier it will be for them to meet their goals and less of a financial drain on you. To that end, encourage your children with your words and with your fine example.

A few financial incentives may also help. Tell your adult children if they scrounge together a house payment, you will lock in some additional dollars, or offer to subsidize their 401k contribution at 50 cents on the dollar.

This doesn’t mean you intend to fund their retirement instead of your own, but getting them started as investors sure seems like a smart idea.