October 04, 2012
Provided courtesy of Jeff Cosby, Wells Fargo Financial Advisor
Given the volatility of the job market over the past few years, job loss and other unexpected career disruptions or changes have become all too common for many Americans, and they can throw off one’s long term plans and goals. When we encounter these types of major life changes, the more immediate need to adapt to our new lives and settle in to our new realities tends to take priority. However, in spite of the focus required for those day-to-day challenges, planning for retirement continues to be top of mind for many. According to the most recent Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index, when asked to rank their most important savings priority, 41percent of investors said “saving for retirement.” But how to do it?
Regardless of your personal circumstances, there are some basic steps you can take to plan for the day you retire. First, you should consider how much time you have left in the ranks of the employed, and adjust your planning based on your stage in life so that you will be financially prepared to retire.
If you have at least ten years left before you plan to retire, you still have the advantage of time on your side. One of the most basic principles of investing is putting your money into different investment vehicles and then leaving it there so you can potentially reap the benefits of long-term returns. With more than ten years left to invest, you might be able to afford to take on a bit more risk with your investments. While equities – such as stocks – have an inherent risk of losing money, they also have a history of providing significant returns over a long period of time. Just keep in mind that past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Probably the biggest advantage of getting an early start is the benefit of compounding earnings. Based on the investments in your retirement portfolio, the money you put in has the potential to earn more money for you – whether through interest payments, dividends, or other means of growth. In many cases, those earnings can be reinvested into your portfolio, further enhancing the total value of your savings and allowing your money the opportunity to “make money” for you.
If your retirement is less than ten years away, then it’s time to start making subtle adjustments to your investment mix. Hopefully, at this point you’re not just getting started, but rather taking a look at how your investments are allocated and making sure they appropriately match your risk tolerance, your investment objectives and your relatively short time horizon. Because you have less time to work with, you still want to have some investments that offer growth, but you also want to begin looking at preservation of principal through fixed income alternatives such as bonds, which may provide a little more stability in your portfolio and help reduce your overall risk.
Finally, at some point you’ll reach that day that you once thought was so far off. When you find yourself officially in the position to retire, you will have a whole different outlook on those funds you have set aside for just that purpose. Instead of making contributions to your retirement funds to help them grow, you’ll need to maintain your income from those investments. You’ll likely begin taking distributions from them to pay for your day-to-day expenses. A thorough review of your investments will help you clearly see just how much you have saved, and how you will have to plan your distributions so you don’t run short on funds during your retirement.
Financial preparation for retirement is different for every individual. To make sure that you’re on the right track, take the time now to assess your own situation and see what you can do to make sure you’re ready when it’s time for you to retire. The good news is that with proper investment planning, you should be able to retire with confidence—if you get organized.
Investments in securities and insurance products are:
NOT FDIC INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE