Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How Will I Ever Retire If They Keep Moving The Finish Line?


What happens if you've made it to the day you thought you'd be retiring, but you're simply not financially ready? Perhaps you passed your "Plan B" date. Maybe even "Plan C" has come and gone. You know you've been making the right moves, but a temperamental stock market, kids who stayed home longer than expected or an unlucky series of events keeps pushing back your time frame.  So, in exasperation, you ask ... 

Question: "How will I ever retire? When will it be safe to stop working?" 

Answer:  Well, hopefully very soon.  We're going to show you some ways to put luck back on your side.  It's going to be part planning, part faith and a good deal of ingenuity, but we can get your pictured future back within sight again. 

Question:  "OK, so how do I know when I'll have enough money?" 

Answer:  The first thing you need to do is realize that enough money is possible.  It's scary to read headlines about Boomers running out of money because they lived so long, especially when they're coupled with stories about how the 4% rule isn't enough.  If you take these articles at face value, you've got to come up with 40 years of savings, assuming you'll be taking out as much as 10 percent of your nest egg every year.  Because it's difficult (if possible at all) to get to that point, it's easy to give up. 

Instead, go back to 4%.  Or, if you're being conservative, make it 5%. That's a 25% raise! That's a lot! Then, remember the lessons of your working life: Anything that happens far in the future should be weighted far less, because you never know what might happen between now and then.  You might find you don't care for fly fishing that much or you no longer need that annual trip across the country. Your neighborhood's home values could rebound.  Maybe you'll stumble onto a strong investment.  There's too much uncertainty in life to freak out about what's going to happen far away into the future. Take 5% out, per year, until you're 85.  That's plenty. Anything beyond that is too much. 

Question:  "How can I make sure I've got enough retirement income?" 

Answer:  One of the easiest ways to produce panic is realizing that money only flows one way once you stop working. You've been conditioned to treat any month in which you spend more than you earn with revulsion, shame and guilt. Now, that's going to happen every month - for the rest of your life.

A lot of retirees feel more comfortable with money coming in on a regular basis. You can accomplish this in a variety of ways.  First, try to put off Social Security as long as possible.  The higher payout will make retirement much easier. Second, try to create passive income using investment products.  In the same way that dividend-producing stocks pay out on a regular basis, you can create passive income that can be accessed any time by moving chunks of your retirement into high yield savings products like money market accounts.  That way, you can still budget the way you used to without having to sell your stocks (while hoping you guessed the right time to sell).

You can also create passive income by using your home equity to fund a business venture.  Right now, mortgage rates are low, but a lot of Boomers are missing out because they paid off their homes in order to retire.  You use a home equity line of credit to buy a rental property (which builds equity at the same time it gives you a paycheck) or start an online business built around your hobbies.  If you love to knit, sell handcrafted items on Etsy.  Do you like to fish? Start manufacturing lures with the equity in your home.  These ideas can generate a monthly income for you and also give you something else to leave to your children.  In a pinch, you can even sell the rental property or sell shares in the business for a quick cash infusion. 

Question:  What about my health?  That can be a big cost, even with Medicare. 

Answer:  One of the best places to put some money when you retire is into various forms of insurance. You probably already have life insurance, homeowners, and insurance on your other big purchases, but you also probably only have Medicare to cover the health side of your insurance portfolio.  What happens if you need something Medicare doesn't cover?  Is it worth it to go on Healthcare.gov and try to find a supplemental plan?

One way to keep your options open is to try a "do-it-yourself" Health Savings Account (HSA).  While traditional HSAs gain their benefits from your employer paying into them, you can get a lot of the same benefits simply from putting some spare cash into one of our high-yield money market accounts.  That way, you've got money put aside for a health emergency, but you're not spending on a premium you'll only need very rarely.  As an added benefit, you can access that money if you need it for things that aren't health-related if some other kind of emergency comes up.

Hopefully, you've gotten a better idea of how to tackle retirement.  You need to have faith and protect yourself at the same time.  The best way to do that is to put your money with someone you trust and give yourself access to it, just in case.  If you need any more info, want more guidance, or just need someone to talk to about taking the leap, give Destinations Credit Union a call at 410-663-2500.

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