Freeman's Blog


Stashing money away for retirement is complicated, so it’s not surprising that fundamental retirement guidelines have become popular over the years. Here are four that you might have come across in reading, researching, or just talking with friends. Like most guidelines, they offer helpful starting points but need to be examined critically and adjusted for your specific situation.

1. Save 10% of your pay for retirement.

This is a good beginning, but new retirement guidelines suggest putting away 15% of your salary. If you started late, you may need to save more. At the very least, save enough to receive any matching funds offered by your employer. Consider this: If you save just 6% of your salary and your employer offers a full 6% match, you are already putting away 12%!

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2. The percentage of stock in your portfolio should equal 100 minus your age.

This reflects fundamental retirement guidelines that younger people can take on more risk, while older people approaching retirement should protect their principal by converting some volatile growth-oriented stocks into more stable fixed-income securities.

Although the strategy is sound, the math may no longer be appropriate considering long life spans and low yields on fixed-income financial instruments. For example, if you followed this rule at age 40, 60% (100 less 40) of your portfolio would consist of stock, and at age 60, the percentage of stock would be 40%. Depending on your situation and risk tolerance, you may require a higher percentage of stock at either of these ages to meet your retirement goals.

3. You need 80% of your pre-retirement income during retirement.

New retirement guidelines suggest that you need 80% of your pre-retirement income during retirement. But, in fact, there is no magic number, and you may be better off focusing on your actual expenses today. Then, think about whether they’ll stay the same, increase, decrease, or even disappear by the time you retire.

While some expenses might disappear, like a mortgage or costs for transportation to and from work, new expenses may arise, such as travel, help with home maintenance, and medical costs. A typical 65-year-old couple who retires in 2017 might spend $275,000 on medical care in retirement, even with Medicare.1 Calculate how much you may need to pay for your expenses in retirement and add a cushion for “the unexpected”.

4. A “safe” withdrawal rate is 4%.

The “4% rule” suggests that you make annual withdrawals from your retirement nest egg equal to 4% of the total when you retire, with annual adjustments for inflation. This model was developed in the 1990s for a 30-year retirement with a portfolio that included 50% large-cap stocks.2Although this may be part of many retirement guidelines, some experts suggest a lower rate. Factors to consider include the amount of income you anticipate needing, your life expectancy, the rate of return you expect from your financial products, inflation, taxes, and whether you’re single or married.

Sources:
1) CNBC, October 5, 2017
2) The Balance, August 18, 2017

It’s your retirement. Plan it perfectly for you!

Retirement guidelines are helpful, but they are not exactly the same for everyone. Let me show you how to get the most from your retirement planning. Contact me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office in Upper Marlboro, MD. Contact me 1-833-313-7233.

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