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Retirement Planning Blog

on 20 May, 2020

what you can do to keep your retirement plan from failing

If you really think about it, there is risk in almost everything we do. As journalist and economist Allison Schrager has noted, people often manage risk in their lives and careers in surprising ways.

The description of a book that she wrote on risk management says it well: "Whether we realize it or not, we all take risks large and small every day. Even the most cautious among us cannot opt out--the question is always which risks to take, not whether to take them at all."

Now, for retirees, one of the major risks to financial security is sequence risk. What is that?

It's the probability of having losses early in retirement or just before you retire. Financial pundits fondly call this period the "retirement red zone."

Even a 15% loss can throw a retirement plan off track, especially if you are already taking money from your accounts for income. Then it simply compounds the losses.

It's a challenging time for retirees, who now are taking a triple-hit. Never-before-seen market swings are reducing the value of their portfolios. The novel coronavirus pandemic is shutting down many workplaces, which means that workers don't have regular income to save.

Many retirees who are still working were likewise affected. And low interest rates continue to be unfriendly to retirees with fixed-interest holdings.

Meanwhile, Michael Finke, professor of wealth management at The American College of Financial Services, points out another area to keep an eye on: how the pandemic is affecting the probability of success of our retirement plans.

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in Annuity
on 16 April, 2020

what does an annuity protect the contract owner against

Many people buy annuities for protection. But what kinds of protection can they provide? The answer depends in large part on the kind of annuity you own.

At the very least, all annuities can protect you against the financial risk of running out of money in retirement. Annuities counter this hazard by paying you a guaranteed income. Your income can last for a certain timespan or for life. This protection is available with fixed-type and variable annuities alike.

However, fixed annuities also protect the contract owner against downfalls tied to market risk, long-term care costs, and financial risks that can derail your legacy wishes. Here's a rundown of what an annuity can protect you against in your retirement-saving and post-retirement years.

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on 13 May, 2020

how can covid 19 pandemic affect retirees

The novel coronavirus pandemic has impacted all of us in some way. Almost overnight, the U.S. was hit hard with record unemployment.

Many household incomes have been abruptly shut off. Several industries have slowed down to a crawl or else been shut off.

Millions of former workers have been forced to dip into their savings accounts in order to pay their monthly bills. Some have even been forced to take distributions from their retirement savings in order to make ends meet.

Of course, there is no question that better days will be ahead at some point. The U.S. economy is strong, and we will emerge all the stronger for it.

Even so, those without the benefit of continuing income from full-time employment or those with a shorter window before retirement may want to take a step back. It’s prudent to take stock of the situation, seeing what they can do to protect themselves. And that can helpful especially if something like this ever happens again.

How can this black-swan event affect seniors and baby boomers nearing retirement? In an April column of the Retirement Income Journal, a former International Monetary Fund official lays out some of the medium-term and long-term possibilities.

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on 09 April, 2020

four percent rule retirement doesnt always work

At some point or another, you may have heard of the "Four Percent Withdrawal Rule," but what exactly is it? And why does it matter for your retirement?

The four percent rule is the brainchild of south California financial planner Bill Bergen. Simply put, the rule states that a retiree can withdraw 4% of their initial retirement portfolio balance, and thereafter, adjust their amount for inflation each year. This approach would give the retiree a reliable "paycheck" that lasted for 30 years.

Back in 1994, Bergen had many clients worrying about safe withdrawal rates. They were anxious about how much they could spend in retirement without running out of money. Searching for answers in financial textbooks, Bergen found that no educational materials at the time gave a definitive answer.

With that, Bergen went to work on his computer. He ran analyses on data provided by no less than Roger Ibbotson, whose blockbuster research includes groundbreaking findings on indexed annuities as a retirement asset class.

The end result? Bergen's now-famous four percent withdrawal rule. Today, it's one of the most widely quoted and used rules of thumb in finance.

But those days had vastly different economic conditions than now. Given that, is the 4 percent rule still relevant for retirement investors today?

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in Annuity
on 06 May, 2020

annuities monopoly lifetime income

Unlike other types of vehicles, annuities are the only financial instrument capable of paying a guaranteed lifetime income. They are the only one on the planet. No individual investor can duplicate what insurance companies can offer you with paying you a guaranteed income stream.

Nor can any other asset class do what annuities do. They have contractual guarantees backing them.

Dollar-for-dollar capital reserve requirements, as well as mortality estimates built into every single payout by the insurance company, makes these income promises quite dependable. In this sense, annuities have a monopoly on lifetime income.

You can choose to receive guaranteed income for a certain timespan. Say you need guaranteed income for just 10 years. Then your guaranteed income can be structured to last for that long. Or you can receive guaranteed income for the rest of your life, regardless of how the markets perform.

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on 31 March, 2020

coronavirus retirment bill congress cares act

Recently, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the "CARES Act." Among policymakers, the bill is known more formally as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Much of the law is aimed at providing economic relief for businesses, but some parts of the act changed IRA and retirement-plan provisions. The bottom-line of it all? Many of these retirement changes can directly affect your ability to access money and bolster your income.

These changes will have a large effect, regardless of whether you are retired or are still working toward your golden years. In a Forbes.com column, Bob Carlson, editor of Retirement Watch newsletter, wrote about some of the most important changes.

Here’s a look at some major changes that might be coming to your retirement, courtesy of the coronavirus economic relief legislation that became effective on March 27th.

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on 30 April, 2020

social security reserves depleting 2035

For the past few decades, people have been living longer than what Social Security was designed to pay out for. Millions of new retirees are joining the ranks of Social Security benefits recipients, now and in the coming decades.

In time, the outflowing payments to Social Security beneficiaries will start exceeding what Social Security has in reserves. The Social Security Administration will then have a decision to make.

It will have to rely more on the inflows from payroll taxes (and possibly other funding measures) in order to keep up its promised benefits payments to future generations of retirees.

Before the pandemic crisis, Social Security was looking at its reserves being depleted by roughly 2035. But now, over 20 million people have lost their jobs as a result of the spread of the coronavirus.

That is 10% of the U.S. workforce. Payroll taxes that would be pouring into the U.S. Treasury from everyone's paychecks have lessened considerably. As a result, Social Security has been dipping further into its reserve funds in order to keep up its promises to retirees and other benefits recipients.

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in Annuity
on 25 March, 2020

retirement annuity is retirement annuities right for you

In times of wild market swings and low-interest rates from Treasurys, CDs, and other fixed-interest assets, annuities can bring a sense of calm and predictability to a portfolio. Many people refer to annuities as "retirement annuities," because they are particularly well-designed for retirement goals.

Annuities are the only instrument capable of paying you a guaranteed income stream for as long as you live. No other instrument on the planet offers this.

You can think of this in terms of a monthly paycheck or money for life. You will receive a check in the mail from the life insurance company that you can count on, again and again, for the rest of your lifetime.

That is no matter how equity markets perform. Annuity income can therefore be seen as a kind of "private pension."

Speaking in an analogy, you already have your own annuity with Social Security payments. You paid into Social Security's coffers during your career. Then, when retired, you receive a monthly income that pays you like clockwork.

Annuities work in much the same way. They can be a great supplement to the assured income you will receive from your Social Security payouts.

Depending upon your overall goals, annuities can also help you reach your objectives with other contract features as well. Here's a look at why retirement annuities can bring predictability to your lifestyle and stability to your portfolio.

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on 22 April, 2020

how fixed index annuities can protect your money

With markets in turmoil right now, many retirement savers are looking for ways to protect their money now so they can retire later. And not for just any retirement. They want a comfortable retirement that they can enjoy on their own terms and where they stay retired.

What can you do now to preserve the money you have accumulated and grown for so many years? The answer will be different for every person. It depends largely on their situation, risk tolerance, need for liquidity, and goals.

But one proven solution is a fixed index annuity. Backed by the protection of sturdy, long-time insurance companies, fixed index annuities are a place where you can park your can't-afford-to-lose money and sit tight.

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on 18 March, 2020

average bear market coronavirus img

If you have any money in the market, chances are you have heard of recent slumps in U.S. market indexes.

From February 21st to February 28th, the Dow Jones Industrial Average index fell 12.4%. That drop was quickly followed by a couple of record setters in March. The worst drop in three decades came on March 13th.

The Dow fell 10%, its then-worst decline since the 1987 Black Monday market crash. Then, on March 16th, the market indexes had another record-setting drop. The Dow fell 12.9% and the S&P 500 declined 12% in one day, respectively.

On the whole, investor concerns over the novel coronavirus and the oil supply feud between Russia and Saudi Arabia have sent global financial markets into a tailspin. For those on the cusp of retirement, the timing couldn't be worse.

Of course, every market is different. As a result, no one can be 100% sure of what will happen next. Even so, what might retirement investors face in the near future?

The decline has actually taken us into bear territory, which is typically defined a market drop of 20% or greater.

But as Peter Oppenheimer, chief global equity strategist at Goldman Sachs, observes, there hasn't ever been a bear market spurned by a viral outbreak.

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