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Will I Outlive My Retirement Money?

“Will I outlive my retirement money?” This is one of the top fears for people who are starting to prepare for their retirement years.

Determining your retirement income needs.

Determining how much money you need in retirement is a process, and should ideally be part of a comprehensive financial plan. It shouldn’t be a number that you pull out of thin air.

The process should include looking at your current financial situation and developing an approach based on your goals, time horizon, and risk tolerance. The process should take into consideration all your potential sources of retirement income, and also may project what your income would look like each year in retirement.

We all have our “blue sky” visions of the way retirement should be, yet our futures may unfold in ways we do not predict. So, as you think about your “second act,” you may want to consider some life and financial factors that can suddenly arise.

You may see retirement as an extension of the present rather than the future.

This is only natural, as we all live in the present, but the future will arrive. The costs you have to shoulder later in retirement may exceed those at the start of retirement. As you may be retired for 20 or 30 years, it is wise to take a long-term view of things to ensure you don’t outlive your retirement money.

You may have a health insurance gap.

If you retire before age 65, what do you do about health coverage? You may shoulder 100% of the cost. Suppose you become disabled or seriously ill, and working is out of the question. How will you make ends meet? Healthcare costs are one of the biggest considerations in retirement because they can take a big bite out of your income.

Age may catch up to you sooner rather than later.

You may stay fit, active, and mentally sharp for decades to come, but if you become mentally or physically infirm, you need to find people you can trust to manage your finances and retirement income.

You could be alone one day.

As anyone who has ever lived alone realizes, a single person does not simply live on 50% of a couple’s income, even in retirement. Keeping up a house or even a condo can be tough when you are elderly. Driving can also be a concern. If your spouse or partner is absent, will someone be available to help you in the future?

These are some of the blind spots that can surprise us in retirement.

They may quickly affect our money and quality of life. If you age with an awareness of them, you will be able to manage the outcome better.

Your workplace retirement account can play a critical role in your overall retirement income strategy. Make sure you are maximizing this benefit and allocating the investments appropriately.

Much has been written about the classic financial mistakes that plague start-ups, family businesses, corporations, and charities. Aside from these blunders, some classic financial missteps plague retirees.

Calling them “mistakes” may be a bit harsh, as not all of them represent errors in judgment. However, whether they result from ignorance or fate, we need to be aware of them as we prepare for and enter retirement. We’ll run through some of these issues below.

Timing Social Security.

As Social Security benefits rise about 8% for every year you delay receiving them, waiting a few years to apply for benefits can position you for higher retirement income. Filing for your monthly benefits before you reach Social Security’s Full Retirement Age (FRA) can mean comparatively smaller monthly payments.

Managing medical bills.

Medicare will not pay for everything. Unless there’s a change in how the program works, you may have a number of out-of-pocket costs, including dental and vision care.

Underestimating longevity.

Actuaries at the Social Security Administration project that around a third of today’s 65-year-olds will live to age 90, with about one in seven living 95 years or longer. The prospect of a 20- or 30-year retirement is not at all unreasonable, yet there is still a lingering cultural assumption that our retirements might duplicate the relatively brief ones of our parents.

Retirement withdrawal strategies.

You may have heard of the “4% rule,” a guideline stating that you should take out only about 4% of your retirement savings annually. It’s still a decent rule of thumb to live by in retirement. Some retirees try to abide by it, but others withdraw 7% or 8% per year. Why is this? In the first phase of retirement, people tend to live it up. More free time naturally promotes new ventures and adventures and an inclination to live a bit more lavishly.

There’s a lot more to this and the 4% rule is not the only retirement withdrawal strategy, but this discussion is beyond the scope of this article. Please consult with a qualified financial professional for more detailed information on retirement withdrawal strategies.

Talking About Taxes.

It can be a good idea to have both taxable and tax-advantaged accounts in retirement, if possible. Assuming your retirement will be long, you may want to assign this or that investment to its “preferred domain,” which means the taxable or tax-advantaged account that is most appropriate for it as you pursue a better after-tax return for your entire portfolio.

This is just one example of taxes affecting your investment decisions. There are many other tax considerations to account for in retirement, so please consult with a qualified financial professional for more detailed information on taxes in retirement.

Retiring with debts.

Some find it harder to preserve (or accumulate) wealth when you are handing major portions of it to creditors.

Putting college costs before retirement costs.

There is no “financial aid” program for retirement. There are no “retirement loans.” Your children have their whole financial lives ahead of them. Don’t put your child’s college education before your retirement plan, no matter how tempting. You have to be financially stable yourself before you can help your children.

Retiring with no investment strategy.

Expect that retirement will have a few surprises; the absence of a disciplined investment strategy can leave you without direction when those surprises happen.

Conclusion

These are just some of the classic retirement considerations you’ll have to deal with. To help you avoid any “missteps,” and not outlive your retirement money, take some time to review and refine your retirement strategy with the help of a trusted financial professional.

If you would like to speak with one of our qualified financial advisors, please contact us here. We’d be glad to help.

 

Mike Minter

Mike develops investment portfolio allocations, handles trading and rebalancing, and conducts research and analysis as a Portfolio Manager and Financial Advisor for the firm. As a perpetual student of investing and the markets, Mike considers himself obsessed with the subject. Mike has earned the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) and Certified Fund Specialist® designations. He is also an active member of the Houston chapter of the Financial Planning Association (FPA).   Read Mike’s Profile HereRead More Articles by Mike

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