Planning for retirement is not a one-size-fits-all process. It means evaluating myriad variables – post-retirement lifestyle, where to retire, cost of living, the rate of inflation, and more – then formulating a plan that considers current earnings and standard of living, in addition to future goals.
It is inadvisable to develop a single approach and ride it into the retirement sunset. Life’s ever-changing circumstances and unexpected variables necessitate a dynamic approach to investing. Young and single people, for example, may look towards riskier types of investments; an important life change, like marriage or starting a family, can shift priorities and require a more measured approach.
Research shows that younger investors are less inclined to save the 10-15 percent of annual pretax income advisable to retire by 65 years old, or even save anything at all. But a study from mutual fund company Capital Group finds that younger workers are likely to save more if they visualize their life in retirement – to the tune of 31 percent more income. Heather Lord, Capital Group’s head of strategy and innovation, tells USA Today that the behavior change comes about simply from being able to consider the future: “Millennials have a lot of competing demands on their income,” says Lord. “Because that adds to the challenge of saving for retirement, picturing retirement may help them get into the habit of putting money aside.”
New life milestones mean reevaluating retirement plans. This means considering factors like risk tolerance and savings goals in concert with changing circumstances, as well as planning for the unexpected. Scott Sparks, a wealth management advisor at Northwestern Mutual, reminds workers to consider often-overlooked variables like health issues or sudden job loss when honing a retirement approach. “[Make] sure you’re covered by disability, life insurance and a will,” says Sparks. Additionally, workers should educate themselves on tax liabilities and advantages present and future when reviewing investment strategies in order to maximize benefits and minimize losses.
With life expectancy up, future retirees must consider the possibility of a much longer retirement than previous generations. Longevity necessitates new approaches – and rethinking conventional wisdom. Investment staples like bonds no longer generate returns as substantial as the past, which means considering different types of investment to compensate. This doesn’t mean dispensing with more conservative investments entirely but using them to shield against market volatility instead of making them tentpoles of a retirement plan.
Life means dealing with change – why should retirement plans be any different? By periodically revisiting your retirement approach, you can develop a plan that always works for you, no matter what the circumstances, and ensure brighter days ahead.
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