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Retirement Planning Blog

on 10 August, 2018

understanding reverse mortgage img

Once, reverse mortgages were considered to be the financial stepchild of retirement income sources. But respected authorities like Wade Pfau have shed new light on its potential uses in a retirement strategy. Now, growing shares of financial professionals, retirees, and other Americans see their benefits for certain situations.

If you have any pre-conceived notions about reverse mortgages, you might have formed them while watching those TV commercials with Tom Selleck, Robert Wagner, Henry Winkler, or one of many other well-known personalities.

You might ask, "What roles might a reverse mortgage play in my retirement income plan?" That is a good question. Let’s take a look at some potential uses for a reverse mortgage, including what it may involve.

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on 19 July, 2018

roger ibbotson fixed index annuity

When Roger Ibbotson recently published a new report on fixed indexed annuities and their place in an optimized retirement portfolio, everyone took notice. Few economists and financial researchers garner the attention and level of respect that he does.

He is Professor Emeritus at Yale School of Management, former chairperson of research firm Ibbotson Associates, and chairman as well as chief investment officer at Zebra Capital Management. Ibbotson is also a prolific author, having conducted financial research on many topics including investment returns, mutual funds, international markets, portfolio management, and valuation.

In past studies, his analysis has been groundbreaking and his principles adopted by financial markets at large. So, it's not surprising why his research on fixed index annuities has gained such wide attention.

In his latest study, Fixed Indexed Annuities: Consider the Alternative, Ibbotson expands his view of the use of a fixed index annuity (FIA). Here, he defines a fixed index annuity as a tax-deferred retirement savings vehicle that "eliminates downside risk while allowing for the opportunity to participate in upside market returns."

As baseline benefits, he believes that fixed index annuities, if properly structured, can help control financial market risk and mitigate longevity risk.

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on 07 August, 2018

retirees market downturns

If you are a retiree in your 70s or older, you may feel well positioned to weather potential financial shocks. But if you have yet to enter your golden years, you may face more difficulty maintaining your future retirement standard of living in the aftermath of financial shocks.

That is the consensus of a 2018 report from the Center for Retirement Research (CRR) at Boston College. Unveiled back in February of 2018, the report is entitled "Will the Financial Fragility of Retirees Increase?"

Its conclusion? Future retirees may not be able to rebound from financial jolts, such as those from unexpected medical expenses or the death of a spouse.

That brings up an important question. Why would tomorrow’s retirees be at a greater disadvantage than those who have already retired?

Current retirees may be benefitting from company-sponsored retirement plans in addition to their own retirement assets.  Not so for future retirees who face "inadequate savings and the limited income that safe withdrawal rates provide, reducing the cushion between their incomes and fixed expenses," according to the report.

Another alarm sounded in the report: "If households choose to hold a significant portion of their savings in equities to increase the income their savings provide, they will be more exposed to sharp market downturns that arrive early in retirement."

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on 13 July, 2018

retirement planning for women

It’s well documented that women often earn less than men in the workforce. While progress toward pay equality is a hot topic, less discussed are the factors women face when trying to plan for their ideal retirement.

Among the hurdles that are unique to women:

  • lower lifetime earnings
  • wages lost when leaving the workforce for child rearing or caregiving
  • part-time work without access to benefits, including retirement benefits
  • longer lifespans leading to longer retirements
  • longer exposure to retirement risks

These factors can definitely affect the quality of life women enjoy during their retirement. Which makes having a strong retirement plan more critical than ever.

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on 02 August, 2018

sequence of returns risk

Most people would be thrilled at the prospect of 10% average annual returns or higher in retirement. But now that folks are living longer, they face more challenges than just adequate returns. With decades of retired living on the horizon, people must ensure their portfolios last as long as they might need them.

Sequence of returns risk can affect your long-term income the most in your early-retirement years. That is the timespan just before and right after you retire. You may have heard of that period called the “retirement red zone,” or generally the 10-year spread prior to and after retirement.

It's true that average returns for the S&P 500 from 1928 to 2017 have exceeded 10%. But averages can be deceiving for long-term income planning. What matters just as much is the order of returns, or the actual timing of when a portfolio grows or loses value. As we will see, losses in those early years could make or break your income goals, setting up the risk of running out of retirement money.

This potential hazard is called sequence of returns risk, or just sequence risk. To illustrate it, we will talk about it in two formats: by analogy and then through two hypothetical portfolio scenarios.

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in Annuity
on 11 July, 2018

 how safe are annuities

Once a retirement staple, pensions have been gradually disappearing. Now we hold more responsibility for retirement than ever. That has its own challenges, including how to overcome longevity risk. You have to figure out how to pay for potentially decades of retired living.

Arguably one of the best ways to combat longevity risk is with annuities. However, as you come into the home-stretch and explore your income options, it’s natural to ask, “How safe are annuities for my retirement?”

The good news is they can be quite safe. But there will be some legwork involved to make any annuity-buying decisions that are right for you. Here are some pointers to follow as you consider an annuity for your retirement portfolio.

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on 26 July, 2018
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when should you retire

Like most of us, chances are years ago you imagined the ideal age you would stop working and start living your dream retirement. A new study reveals that the answer to "what’s the optimal retirement age" depends on the age of the person you ask.

Bankrate.com surveyed Americans of different generations. While each had its own idea of the ideal retirement age, on average those surveyed believe the best age to retire to be 61.

Gen Xers and Millennials chose 61 and 60, respectively, as their ideal ages. Baby boomers (ages 64-72) and the silent generation (age 73+), possibly making a more seasoned estimate of the optimal retirement age, chose age 64 to 65.

Everyone wants to retire comfortably, especially after years of hard work. But age forecasting isn't necessarily the best way to approach this. Just-as-critical questions to ask (if not more so) are: "What income do I want to retire at?" and "What financial resources will I need to enjoy my preferred lifestyle?"

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on 29 June, 2018

where are equity markets headed

Evergreen market positivists, take a seat. It seems equity market instability is taking over financial headlines again.

With the tit-for-tat trade war taking shape between the U.S. and a good portion of the rest of the industrialized world, analysts are once again reaching for—if not yet raising—their red flags.

MarketWatch recently featured this eyebrow-raising headline: "The Dow and S&P 500 are 10 trading days away from their longest corrections since 1984."

And in a story about some of the worst layoffs in 2018, TheStreet.com declared: "Let the layoffs continue. It's been a rough ride for some companies so far in 2018. The tariffs have spooked many industrial companies, as well as automakers. The market is flip flopping all over the place."

Barron’s unique take on this hot topic centered around legendary market technician Ralph Acampora, who is a pioneer in the field of chart-based trading.

Barron’s said Acampora "is growing increasingly concerned about recent moves in the stock market, notably in the Dow Jones Industrial Average." They added that "the primary utility of reading charts is a 'risk management' function, and what he's observing currently suggests that the bullish dynamic in equities may be unraveling."

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on 24 July, 2018

working in retirement new norm

What do you plan to do the first day you actually retire? Plan that dream trip? Write that first page of your novel? Explore new opportunities to partake in hobbies or other interests? Just take a deep breath and learn to relax?

If you are like most of the retirees surveyed in the 2018 Retirement Preparedness Study, your retirement years may look a lot like your working years.

Or, at least, that is what working-age Americans foresee for their retirement futures. Commissioned by PGIM Investments and conducted by The Harris Poll, the study found that 52% of pre-retiree baby boomers expect to have a full-time or part-time job during retirement.

This finding is in sharp contrast to the lifestyle of current retirees, with only 6% of them working for a paycheck. Pre-retiree Gen Xers are even more convinced they will need to work in retirement, according to the study, as a substantial 58% responded this way.

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on 27 June, 2018

cost of healthcare in retirement

Have you heard that the average retiree couple may pay as much as $280,000 in total healthcare costs in retirement? That certainly is a big price tag to mull over. And as Vanguard notes in a recent report, cost-of-retirement-healthcare estimates as a lump sum often keep people in a stop-and-shrug zone.

Such a substantial sum seems hard to account for. Not only that, a number of national healthcare cost surveys leave out the costs of long-term care in their estimates. Others treat long-term care as a separate area of expenses from retirement health costs. Either way, many Americans don’t know where to even start with planning for potentially high-cost health events during their golden years.        

Well, here's some good news: planning for retiree health and long-term care costs is well within reach. In that Vanguard report, researchers found a more palatable way for educating people to take action about their retirement health needs: framing healthcare costs as annual expenses, not as a substantial lump sum.

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