Alternative Approaches to Retirement Planning

Alternative Approaches to Retirement Planning

Is the conventional wisdom for everyone?

 

Questioning traditional assumptions about retirement planning can be illuminating. Some retirement planners and economists argue that they need to be reexamined.

Does most retirement planning focus on the future at the expense of the present? One noted economist makes that case. Laurence Kotlikoff, the former White House economic advisor who writes for PBS NewsHour, contends that your retirement savings effort should be structured in a way that allows you to protect your standard of living today and tomorrow.1

A key question in retirement planning is “How much will you need to spend in the future?” Kotlikoff thinks the appropriate question should be “How should you gradually adjust your household spending as you grow older?” He argues that basing your retirement planning on a projected retirement income target is faulty.1

As an illustration, he references the example of what you do when you have errands to run before you catch a flight. The wisest thing to do is to start with your departure time and think backward. (How early do you have to be at the airport? How much time will you need to complete errand A and errand B? How much time should you allow for travel between A & B and after B?) This is what we usually do, and how we figure out when to leave home with enough time to accomplish everything. You plan by looking backward from the future.1

Kotlikoff thinks that typical retirement planning only looks forward. It projects an income target and implies that you have to save $X per year or per paycheck for X years to build a sufficient nest egg to generate that income. This amounts to mere guesswork, he believes, and invites two potential problems. One, if the retirement income target is set too high, you can end up saving more for retirement than you really need and injure your standard of living before retiring. Two, if the retirement income target is set too low, you can end up spending more than you should before you retire and saving less than you need. (And there’s another question. Will your household spending in retirement match what it was years before? Maybe, maybe not.) Kotlikoff thinks that lifetime spending and saving plans have more merit – again, planning by looking backward from the future.1

Is saving overrated? It is pounded home that Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement, but some people don’t think saving is the only step to retiring well. In 2013, retirement planner Joe Hearn (one of MarketWatch’s RetireMentors) posted a column noting several other tips to entering retirement in better financial shape. One, retire without debt. Two, retire with a paycheck (start a small business or work part-time). Three, don’t claim Social Security at 62. There were other pointers, such as retiring to a cheaper part of the country (or world) and going overseas for major surgeries. (As an example, the largest cardiac hospital in the world is India’s Narayana Hrudayalaya Health Center, which is highly regarded and charges about $2,000 for open heart surgery.) If you haven’t saved much for retirement, alternative financial moves like these (and others) could conceivably leave you with lower expenses and more money to live on or invest.2

Should you borrow money & invest it for retirement? This idea definitely isn’t for everyone; it was championed in 2010 by Yale University economists Ian Ayres and Barry Nalebuff. As twenty-somethings have time on their side but not usually a lot of money, Ayres and Nalebuff contended that young people would do well to borrow money and invest it in equities. You don’t need to see a loan officer to make this happen, as there are ways to do it through brokerages; a family loan could also be made pursuant to the same goal. As the risks are potentially major for borrower and lender, you don’t see many such arrangements.3

How about asking your employer for a second retirement plan? Some people have the leverage to pull this off. In particular, doctors and executives without much in the way of savings can make a valid argument that they need (and should have) a deferred compensation plan in addition to the usual qualified retirement plan, as Social Security payments won’t seem large enough when retirement comes. It helps, of course, if they have worked for the employer for quite some time. A reasonable benefit from such a plan would = number of years that the executive or doctor has worked for the employer x 2.0%.

With many people finding it a challenge to save for their futures, it isn’t surprising that these unconventional moves are getting a look.

Mike Fassi, CLU, CHFC  is a Representative with Centaurus Financial Inc. and may be reached at Fassi Financial, 970-416-0088 or mike@fassifinancialnetwork.com.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/make-your-standard-of-living-the-basis-for-all-financial-planning/ [3/31/14]

2 – marketwatch.com/story/7-alternatives-to-saving-for-retirement-2013-09-27 [9/27/13]

3 – money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2010/07/06/3-unconventional-retirement-investing-strategies [7/6/10]

Getting Financially Fit for Retirement at 50

Getting Financially Fit for Retirement at 50

Things for trailing-edge boomers & Gen Xers to consider.

 

When you turn 50, retirement starts to seem less abstract. In terms of retirement planning, a 50th birthday can act as a wake-up call. It may offer a powerful reminder to trailing-edge baby boomers and Gen Xers, many of whom are wrapping up their second act with inadequate retirement savings for their third.

 

You may find yourself with such a shortfall, and you wouldn’t be exceptional. Your peak earning years may arrive in your forties or fifties, but so do other responsibilities with big price tags (raising a family, caring for aging parents, building a business). Throw in some “wild cards” like divorce, bankruptcy, or health scares, and any fortysomething would be challenged to build significant wealth – and yet it happens.

According to the latest Wells Fargo Middle Class Retirement Study, the median monthly retirement savings contribution by middle-class Americans aged 40-49 is $200. How about middle-class folks in their fifties? It must be more, right? No, the median contribution is even less: $78, working out to $936 per year. (Wells Fargo defined middle-class households as having 2013 income of $50,000-99,999 or investable assets of $25,000-99,999.)1

Just as alarming, 50% of the survey respondents in their fifties said they would ramp up their retirement savings efforts “later” to make up for what they weren’t doing now. When you’re in your fifties, there is no “later” – you have to act now. “Later” equals your sixties and your sixties will likely be when you retire.1

So what can you do here and now? Whether you’ve saved a great deal for retirement or not, what decisions could possibly strengthen your retirement nest egg?

Make those catch-up retirement plan contributions. They may seem inconsequential in the big picture, but when you factor in potential investment returns and the power of compounding, they really aren’t. You can start making catch-up plan contributions in the year in which you turn 50. (You can make your first one while you are 49; it just has to be made within that calendar year.) If you only have a five-figure retirement savings sum at age 50, your retirement savings may double (or more) by age 65 through consistent inflows, compounding and catch-up contributions and decent yields.2,3

For 2015, there is a $1,000 catch-up contribution limit for IRAs and a $6,000 catch-up contribution limit for 401(k)s, 403(b)s, most 457 plans & the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan.4

 

Explore ways to save even more. Are you self-employed and a sole proprietor? You could create a solo 401(k) or a SEP-IRA. If eligible, you can defer up to $53,000 into those plans for 2015. Also, SIMPLE plans (to which both employers and employees may contribute) have contribution limits of $12,500 next year with a $3,000 catch-up limit.4,5  

Slim down your debt. Retiring debt-free is a remarkable financial gift that you can give to yourself, and you ought to strive for it. You will always have some consumer debt and you may incur medically-related debts, but paying off the house and avoiding large, new, “bad” debts should be high on your financial to-do list. If accelerating or pre-paying your mortgage payments makes sense, see if your monthly budget will let you do so; be sure you won’t face those rare prepayment penalties. Once your residence is paid off, you might consider living in a cheaper, tax-friendly state – another way to retain more money.

Look at LTC & disability insurance. Again, this comes down to “how much can you afford to lose?” While long term care coverage is rapidly growing more expensive, it still may be worth it in the long run as medical and scientific advances make the chances of lingering our way out of life more common. Should something impede your ability to earn between now and retirement, disability insurance could provide relief.

 

Consider revisiting your portfolio’s allocation. Since 1964, there have been seven bear markets. On average, they lasted slightly more than a year. On average, it took the S&P 500 3.5 years to return to where it was prior to the plunge. If you are 50 or older, think about those last two sentences some more. If your portfolio is allocated more or less the same way it was 30 years ago (some initial portfolio allocations go basically unchanged for decades), revisit those percentages in light of how soon you might retire and how much you can’t afford to lose.6,7

These are just some suggestions. For more, tap the insight of a seasoned financial professional who has known and seen the experience of saving during the “stretch drive” to retirement.

 

Mike Fassi, CLU, CHFC  is a Representative with Centaurus Financial Inc. and may be reached at Fassi Financial, 970-416-0088 or mike@fassifinancialnetwork.com.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

Citations.

1 – forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2014/10/23/retirement-saving-workers-and-firms-must-step-up/ [10/23/14]

2 – forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2013/05/03/playing-catch-up-with-your-401k/ [5/3/14]

3 – forbes.com/sites/mitchelltuchman/2013/11/21/financial-planning-for-late-starters-in-five-steps/ [11/21/13]

4 – irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Announces-2015-Pension-Plan-Limitations;-Taxpayers-May-Contribute-up-to-$18,000-to-their-401%28k%29-plans-in-2015 [10/23/14]

5 – forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2014/10/23/irs-announces-2015-retirement-plan-contribution-limits-for-401ks-and-more/ [10/23/14]

6 – traderhq.com/illustrated-history-every-s-p-500-bear-market/ [4/5/14]

7 – mainstreet.com/article/stop-thinking-about-risk-tolerance-try-risk-capacity-instead/ [10/7/14]