Now That You're Retired, Maximize Your Retirement Income
Those long-awaited Golden Years have arrived and you're enjoying a well-deserved retirement. You've saved and invested wisely to provide a financial cushion, but making the most of your assets now - maximizing your retirement income - may require a brand new strategy. Where do you go from here?
Investing during retirement can be uncharted terrain for many people. An appointment with your investment professional to reassess your portfolio can be crucial in helping you meet your changing needs. With uncertain variables such as longer life expectancies, the changing rate of inflation, and the possibility that you could outlive your retirement funds, you'll want to be sure your investments will keep up with you and outpace the cost of living.
Neglecting your investment strategy now could be costly. Inflation is one reason; even at a moderate 3% rate, inflation can substantially cut the purchasing power of your savings over 20 years. Another is that you may find your hard-earned cash dwindling too fast. A balanced portfolio of investments to maximize security while building needed profitability may be crucial to your financial security.
Many people believe that retirement means investing everything in low-returning money market accounts1 or certificates of deposit (CDs). While these investments do offer little risk to principal, you should also consider the risks that (1) your assets will not keep pace with inflation and that (2) you may outlive your assets. Although past performance is no guarantee of future results, stocks have historically outpaced inflation by the widest margin and have provided the strongest returns over the long term. So you should consider keeping a portion of your portfolio invested in stocks and stock mutual funds throughout your retirement.2
Along with some stock investments, a significant portion of your principal will likely be invested in fixed-income investments to provide a consistent stream of income. Depending on your needs, such investments may include high-quality corporate and government bonds, tax-exempt bonds, and high-yield "junk" bonds.3 How much risk (maturity and credit risk) you need to take in these investments depends in part on how much income you need. For example, if you can get by with a 5% annual return, you might be comfortable with high-quality, medium-term, fixed-income investments. But if you need to generate 8% or more on your money, you'll need a longer-term strategy and will likely have to take on more risk.
You can buy individual government bonds of varying maturities and coupon rates to match your projected cash flow needs. In fact, this is how many insurance companies and banks manage cash flows to minimize interest rate risk. They first estimate a schedule of cash outflows, and then buy securities "maturing" along the same schedule. You can use a similar strategy by buying bonds maturing (principal repaid) in one, two, and three years based on your expected cash needs in those years. You'll earn the stated rate of interest and likely have little risk of loss of principal, since you shouldn't need to sell the bonds before the scheduled due date. The rest of your bond portfolio may be invested in higher-yielding, longer-term investments.
|Now That You're Retired, Maximize Your Retirement Income|
For many people, retirement is also a time to elect a distribution from their company pension and retirement savings plans. Many people may also begin taking distributions from an IRA or annuity at this time.
Because these distributions often involve complex analysis of income and tax scenarios to determine the best choice for your unique circumstances, it's wise to consult your financial advisor.
If you have substantial assets that generate more income each year than you spend, consider putting some of your investments in a variable annuity. Your investment earnings will grow and compound tax deferred until withdrawal. However, when you withdraw earnings they are taxed as ordinary income regardless of how long they have accrued in your account. Because these tax rates may be higher than capital gains tax rates, you may want to use variable annuities for your fixed-income investments and your most aggressive stock investments - those that typically experience high turnover and therefore generate substantial short-term income distributions (which are taxed as ordinary income rather than as long-term capital gains).
Annuities also allow you to continue making contributions after retirement and to defer withdrawals, often until age 80 or later. Withdrawals from traditional, non-Roth IRAs, however, must begin no later than April following the year you turn 70 ½. After that, you must make your second withdrawal by December 31 of that year and withdrawals by each of the subsequent December 31 dates.
You can donate highly appreciated assets to charity and generate current income along with a tax deduction, using a charitable remainder trust. With the top capital gains tax rate at 15% for most investors, the value of the tax deduction may be less than in previous years but could still provide an advantage to wealthy individuals.
A charitable remainder trust requires that you donate the asset to a qualified charity or foundation, which will establish a trust. The trustee sells the asset at market value, and then invests the proceeds and pays you annual investment income. You receive a current tax deduction based on the expected remainder value of the asset and your life expectancy. At your death, the trust is paid to the designated charity.
An investment portfolio can work hand-in-hand with retirement accounts, annuities, and trusts to meet your income and growth needs. To help determine what kind of investment vehicles may be appropriate for your particular circumstances (as well as how much of your portfolio should be allocated to each asset class), consider your risk tolerance and your needs for income vs. growth. You also want to consider tax consequences of each option. Your financial advisor can help you find a balance that is appropriate for you. Once you've established a suitable portfolio, you might consider using your fixed-income and money market investments1 - and any retirement plan and trust distributions - for your annual expense money. Of course, continuous attention to detail can help keep you ahead of the game - and well cushioned against the rising cost of living.
- Inflation continues to eat away at the value of your savings. Stocks offer the best potential for fighting inflation over the long term.
- Only a portion of your money is invested for the short term. Today's longer life expectancies mean a component of your portfolio may be invested for 20 or more years.
- Income investments include bonds and dividend-paying stocks.
- You may have to elect payment options for your company pension and retirement plans. You may also elect to begin withdrawals from your IRAs. Consult your financial advisor.
- An annuity can help you shield investment earnings from taxes.
- Charitable remainder trusts are vehicles for converting appreciated assets into income.
1An investment in a money market fund is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although the fund seeks to preserve the value of your investment at $1.00 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in the fund.
2Share prices may fall in value as well as increase, and there is no assurance that the full value of an investment in stocks can ever be recovered.
3Bond values are not guaranteed. A bond's market price may vary significantly from face value. Investors may receive the face value or redemption value of a bond only if it is held to maturity or call date. High-yield bonds present greater risk of default.
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