What should your stock allocation be at your retirement date, or in different words, how much risk (variability) should you tolerate near and at retirement? I discussed this issue in a series of posts earlier this year (see links at end), and recently the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an article (paywall) about it. Continue reading
Risk is sometimes the elephant in the investing room, especially for retirees. People understand stocks as ownership and bonds as debt, but risk is hard to grasp and instinctively dangerous.
Later Living has recently published four posts on risk. Risk and high returns go together, so retirees who want high returns must deal with risk. Here are the four earlier posts knit together into one risk story: Continue reading
Investment risk is good in that it accompanies greater long-term wealth but it is bad if investors sell during a downdraft. Stocks are riskier (more volatile) than bonds yet offer more long-term gain.
Should retirees dial back their risk exposure to, say, 30% stocks, as is sometimes recommended, or can they carry much more risk, perhaps up to 70% stocks? The answer follows their goals and plans. Continue reading
When should someone retire? The answer may be fraught with danger if the retirement portfolio is overly weighted to stocks or other risky investments. There is one small window of time surrounding the retirement date in which sharp declines in stock values can ruin retirement. Continue reading
There are standard narratives about investing that lead people to particular strategies. Risk, we’re told, infects all investments, and it is often viewed as potential injury or loss. Continue reading
The last post related how emergencies can put a retiree’s living standards at risk. Now the discussion turns to thinking and working through emergencies in ways that manage the risk appropriately.
If retirees pay regular living expenses from their investment portfolios, and then spend some of those investments to resolve emergencies, they put future withdrawals at risk. It’s different in middle life when living expenses are paid from salaries or wages, and savings are commonly used for emergencies.
Some Financial Approaches
One solution is to set aside a portion of a retirement portfolio for emergencies. A retiree with a $500,000 portfolio could set aside $100,000 for emergencies, using only $400,000 for ordinary living. If the withdrawal rate is 4 percent, the retiree would withdraw $16,000 annually for ordinary expenses. The $100,000 emergency fund would be left alone.
In addition, retirees have other options: