Stock market returns are up significantly year-to-date, over a 17% increase for the Dow and a 20% increase for the S&P 500. Additionally, bond funds are up considerably as well with the Federal Reserve beginning to lower interest rates making existing, higher yielding bonds worth more than new bond issuances. With these increases you should be experiencing in your investment accounts - the light (retirement) at the end of the tunnel may appear brighter and more realistic. You have spent your working life accumulating money in your 401(k) and other investment accounts, have an expectation of social security or a traditional pension but are not sure if you have enough money to retire. So, how do you determine if you can retire and stay retired?
Retirement planning or financial planning is an excellent place to start. This is the process of assessing your readiness-to-retire given your desired lifestyle and retirement age. There is not a “one size fits all” solution as everyone’s situation is different. The retirement planning process takes a holistic approach considering such factors as: fixed income (social security/pensions), investment assets, insurance, real estate holdings, healthcare, risk tolerance, liquidity events and debt amongst others things. As you approach your hopeful retirement age (2-5 years out) it is a good idea to seek out guidance from financial advisors who have significant experience helping people navigate the financial uncertainty of an impending retiree.
Before you meet with a financial advisor, ask yourself a few questions:
When would I like to retire?
Do I plan to work in retirement?
Do I have an estimated monthly or annual budget to fit my lifestyle?
Are you intending to leave a legacy to your children or charity?
How will I pay for potential healthcare needs?
When you meet with your financial advisor, you will want to provide them with some basic information that may include the following:
401(k) statement and other investment statements
Recent Social Security and/or pension information
Information about your mortgage or any other debt you may have
Life insurance policies, especially those with cash value
Your spending expectations
Along with this information, there should be conversations where goals and expectations are shared. Do you want to travel? Spend more time with grandkids? What are the tax implications of accessing certain investments? What is a reasonable expectation of income coming from my investments without running out of money? These are examples of items that can impact the specific advice given and help guide your plan.
With all this information, the financial advisor will generate projections using historical data and computer modeling to show what retirement might look like financially for you. Feedback on your plan can relieve the stress of the unknown and confirm you are on the right track. The results may also open your eyes to how realistic your goals are or if tweaks are necessary to achieve the retirement you desire. Our hope is that you gain comfort in having the flexibility to enjoy the things you want in retirement, at your pace and with those you hold dear.
This may seem overwhelming, but the process is broken down and simplified with the help of a well experienced financial Advisor...we happen to know of one. Feel free to contact us anytime.