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 time to lock in stock market gains

American markets have been enjoying a recent stock market rally, with some markets posting double-digit increases. It is the nature of the markets to rise and fall. So if you are approaching retirement, this might be the time to begin to lock in your stock market gains. If you're wondering why, think about it. Many Americans will be relying on their portfolio money for retirement income once they leave the workplace. It may be to pay for spending quality time on the green, sailing, horseback riding, getting away on vacation, or whatever their preferred retirement activities may be.

Older Americans tend to have less invested in stocks because they move their savings out of higher risk vehicles in their pre-retirement years. This is typically to protect their retirement nest egg, since they tend to have less time for recovery. Unfortunately, many Americans are still reeling from losses from the 2008 financial crisis. They are looking at a delayed retirement.

You can take steps to protect the financial gains your portfolio has enjoyed and start preserving your wealth for your retirement lifetime. This may call for a shift in financial focus -- a start to evaluating safer retirement vehicles which have a lower risk profile than equities, like annuities and life insurance. It is a good idea to review your portfolio at least once a year, to review to make sure that your portfolio is meeting your goals, objectives, and expectations. As you approach retirement, you may want to begin to transfer your portfolio to a more risk-adverse position and realize any financial growth you've achieved before the markets make their natural corrections.

Average American Household Savings Near Retirement

Proactive planning is a critical step for a secure retirement. But just how prepared are American households for their retirement years? Of course it’s important to recognize all households will have different retirement needs. People vary in their life circumstances and objectives, and as a result, their financial circumstances and requirements will also vary.

Some couples may require a seven-figure nest egg to feel secure. Others are confident their Social Security benefits will be suitable for their future needs. Given how Americans have such a wide-ranging outlook on finances in retirement, how people interpret statistics such as average American household retirement savings will vary. What may be the start of a looming crisis for some may be a minor challenge for others.

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In the past, we’ve looked at retirement planning strategies for specific populations, like self-employed Americans or women. But what if someone is part of the segment of Americans who aren’t that well-prepared for retirement?

According to a survey conducted by BankRate.com, 36% of surveyed adults say they didn’t have a penny saved for retirement. Around 25% of the people aged 50-64 in the survey reported they had yet to start their retirement savings. These findings are consistent with data found in previous surveys. In fact, previous data shows there’s a wide gap between Americans’ retirement expectations and what they’re actually prepared for.

A big part of it is because many American households live paycheck to paycheck. So what steps can you implement to catch up on retirement savings? Read on for some helpful tips.

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