Category Archives: Longevity

Retirement Insecurity

Finally, something we can all agree on: retirement insecurity. Perhaps through persistence or saturation or simply self-awareness people are coming around to the unnerving truth. Whether driven by slow starts, low balances, Social Security, longevity risk, medical costs or something else, people are concerned. Democrats and Republicans Alike Worry About Retirement Security
Just in case you think that is all overblown, the Congressional Budget Office just released this study on Social Security. Social Security ‘broke’ by 2029: What’s not in it for you?

Retirement Insecurity: Don’t just sit there, do something about it!
We have talked many times about the QLAC (Qualified Lifetime Annuity Contract) and the potentially vital role it can play. These Government authorized ‘longevity insurance’ annuities provide you income for life within your qualified plans … when plan sponsors provide them. Seems that may be getting some traction now. Employers are trying to solve their workers’ retirement income problem It doesn’t hurt to bring it up with your employer.
We say it here virtually every installment, use all the tax advantaged tools you can when saving for retirement. Just in case you missed that, there’s this. 6 Tax-Efficient Strategies to Keep More of Your Money in Retirement

Retirement Insecurity: Save more while you are working and be smart about it.
I admit I have not heard of this before, but it is very, very interesting. If you are still working it is worth the time. Another way to measure retirement readiness: Your ‘Power Percentage’
Like most people you likely do not know how much you need to retire. There are plenty of guides, most pretty well useless. This may be, too, but it is great food for thought and might just get you motivated. The 25X Rule to Early Retirement
If you happen to subscribe to the Financial Times this might be interesting reading. If not, it says that looking through US regulatory filings shows that the most successful investors have one thing in common. They all disregard macro trends in favor of betting on individual companies and industries. You might say ‘so what’ I’m not going to do that, but wait then there is this article. Here if you are willing to invest the effort you may well join that club by doing some really interesting analytics on individual stocks, ETFs and more. If nothing else do yourself a favor and read the beginning. The Schwab US Equity Dividend ETF vs. the S&P 500 Index: A Comparative Case Study

Retirement Insecurity: Change your mind set in retirement – distribution not accumulation.
In the perfect world, you manage to get appreciation of your assets and income. That’s where dividend stocks can be helpful by throwing off income without liquidating assets. It is a fluid environment, though, and you should stay on top of your choices. Dividend Champions for March 2017
In case you have not yet figured it out, longevity risk is a giant one for your retirement. That means dealing with it explicitly is a priority. In turn that means you may need to think outside the box on how to address this risk. Life Insurance in Retirement: Who Needs It?

Financial Wisdom

With each installment, we try to impart financial wisdom on our readers. It generally comes by way of general rules and valuable pointers. This time we turn the focus to distilled financial wisdom. First from the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett in his annual letter to shareholders. It is a lengthy read, but always worthwhile. You can find that here: Warren Buffett’s letter to Berkshire Hathaway investors explains how to use fear to your benefit. The second piece comes from Jim Gallagher, a personal finance columnist, it is here: 23 years of personal finance wisdom distilled into one final column. Before this one gets too dated I figure why not share Jeff Gundlach’s mid-January opinion piece. Here’s Jeff Gundlach’s full presentation on expensive stocks, the economy under Trump, and the Federal Reserve

Financial Wisdom: Always optimize the incentives Government provides.
I will start by saying Social Security is not given to you by Government, you fund and earn it. Still, there is an art to extracting the most value. This is the surefire way to maximize your Social Security benefits

Another really popular topic here is Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). We will not rest on this one until you fully appreciate the value of these. How Health Savings Accounts Work

Financial Wisdom: You need to be very, very attentive to your longevity risk.
You saw it above in the piece on Social Security and this article, too, deals squarely with longevity risk. Many find fault with annuities as a solution, but the guarantees have value and should not be dismissed. The biggest problem with traditional retirement planning

Financial Wisdom: Invest as wisely as you possibly can.
One thing vital to your planning is to understand that it is never a ‘set it and forget it’ process. This article helps drive that point home. Investor’s Alpha: Proper Asset Allocation
Then again, things are subject to change … what impact will Artificial Intelligence have on individual retirement investing? This article may give you some insight and hope. Artificial Intelligence Hedge Funds Outperforming Humans
Investing wisely also means being aware of your environment. This article, just published this morning, shares a Monte Carlo simulation for market performance in March. As with all prognostications, take it for what it is worth, but it is fascinating. I recommend reading it through. A Monte Carlo Simulation of the S&P 500 for March 2017

Optimizing Trump

We have turned our focus back to your retirement and plenty of disgruntled people out there will be well served by Optimizing Trump. What that means is identifying the potential implications of a Trump presidency for your retirement and addressing them now.

Optimizing Trump: Locking in things as best you can before it gets any crazier.
One of our common themes is income generation in retirement. Whether using tools like longevity annuities or investing in the finest dividend stocks, securing income streams matters.
Plenty of dividend stocks and funds, and plenty of tips on them, too. This one is intriguing, though. One of the Best Dividend Growth Stocks Around Regardless of the State of the Economy
This is way, way in the weeds for most, but it portends something worth understanding. The bottom line is that the Fed bought up lots of stuff in propping up the economy. Now, they are thinking about exiting some, specifically mortgage backed securities. It is good to be aware, at least. Everyone is suddenly worried about this U.S. mortgage-bond whale

Optimizing Trump: Finding weaknesses before they overwhelm.
Safe to say whether you like Trump or not, you probably expect there will be turmoil at some point. Turmoil equals uncertainty, and uncertainty drives volatility. If Trump Flares Up Uncertainty, Profit from These ETFs

Optimizing Trump: always focus on the fundamentals … fees, longevity, etc.
It has been some time since we have harped on the fact that you will live longer and that means you will need more savings. Perhaps the oracle of The USA Today will lend some credence to the argument. How much do you need to fund retirement? More than you think.
Now a somewhat different angle on the same topic…your spouse is likely not the same age. That matters. Retirement Planning? Couples, Mind the Age Gap

Successful Retirement

Just what is a successful retirement? Perhaps not having to work after you ‘retire’ is how you define it. More likely you are thinking about traveling, time with family, remaining healthy and active…good things. Fact is you should probably avoid the first thing before you focus on the others. Now, you may want to work in retirement, that’s fine. You may call it a ‘second act.’ Maybe you can truly devote your time and energy to a cause you support, or flip properties; more power to you. I think you can do everything right in your run up to retirement: saving more than you think you need right from the start, watching fees, being aggressive enough, etc. If you get the income side of the equation wrong, though, it can blow it all. This brings us back to a few recurring themes: longevity, expenses and withdrawal rates.

Successful Retirement: Just what do you need to do right to make it happen?
This author has put a lot of thought and effort into the right withdrawal rate. Fact is that longevity, fees and investment strategy are all important determinants. If you retire at 65, will you be retired for 40 years? For many of you, yes. That makes this article a must read. It is also a huge eye-opener (sorry). A ‘Safe’ Withdrawal Rate Highly Depends on Longevity and Asset Allocation
These may be repeats, but warrant repeating. The notion that a flat withdrawal rate will match reality is hard to fathom. This construct makes a lot more sense. You will slow down as you age, right? Then the medical bills will likely ramp up later, right? What is the ‘Retirement Spending Smile?’ and Retirement Spending Increases and Decreases Over Time
I really try not to annoy you with hard to read articles. This one makes some good points, but you have a short time to read it. So, keep reloading the page and work your way down. How Much Money Do You Need to Retire?
One thing is certain, your cost structure in retirement will matter. One way to effect that is moving to a lower cost of living. The 50 Cheapest Places to Retire in the US (I suspect my many NJ friends may not have considered Newark!)

Successful Retirement: As suggested above, it is not all about money. Keep your mind active.
And you thought it was a bunch of books. These 250-Plus Violins are About to be Owned by the US Government
Lots of you will make your way to NY City during the holidays. Maybe this is an interesting aside. Secrets of New York’s Grand Central Terminal (remember when that ceiling was black?)
You know this technology will make its way to your phone before too long. I can sure use it! NASA’s New Camera Is Straight from the Future with Incredibly Detailed Footage
This one is a warning that it is not that simple. Climate change is a controversial subject, and it takes more work than you think to understand. How did one volcano confuse scientists, ocean research?

Retirement: How Long, How Much?

We often highlight the impacts of longevity on retirement. This week we look at Retirement: How Long, How Much? What are the practical implications of a longer life? What is a safe withdrawal rate? Save as much as you can when working, that is the first step. Knowing how much you can take and how long you need to take it is vital.

Retirement: How Long, How Much?
So, just how long will you live in retirement? No one knows for certain, but it is wise to know the odds and the outside shot.  Retirement Planning for a 115-Year Life Expectancy
Once you have a sense for how long you will be in retirement you can start on how much you need in retirement.  Use the FI Formula to Find Out How Much You Need to Be Financially Independent
That FI Formula still leaves the open question about the 4% rule. Just how much is a safe withdrawal rate? Look at the actual study to fill in some of the gaps in that story. Safe withdrawal rates
Not surprisingly Vanguard has an opinion on withdrawal rates. It makes sense, but is it right for you? Vanguard’s New Model for Retirement Spending in Low-Yield Market

Retirement: How Long, How Much? – Perhaps there are other ways to think about it.
Some of you may be thinking about running away from the US after November 8. We have covered the topic before, but here are some reminders on what to consider. How to Manage Your Finances When You Retire Overseas
If you don’t want to bite the bullet and move overseas, this option still gets you offshore? 6 Reasons a Cruise Ship is the Best Retirement Option
Keeping with the overseas perspective, are we doing everything right here? Australia and New Zealand certainly are better positioned and here’s why. Our legislators should take note. What U.S. Retirees Can Learn from New Zealand and Australia
Regardless your view of longevity and even safe withdrawal rate, generate as much income as you can. Dividends are one approach worth considering. There are always new options to consider. This Dividend ETF Does Your Investing For You
Is dividend investing right for you or as part of your investment strategy? This article might help you consider just that. Why do Some People Like Dividends So Much?

Retirement: How Long, How Much? – What comes after November 8.
So, will there be an implication on the economy? Here’s an interesting viewpoint. Could Hillary Clinton be the Next Herbert Hoover?
Maybe it will happen, maybe it is already priced in already. Is there a smart answer to hedge your bets? How to Hedge the S&P 500 with a Minimum Return of 7%
Maybe you are better off reading a book. Top 10 Books that Will Change Your Life in 2016

Retirement Planning Strategy

How best to frame your retirement planning strategy, that is how we are focusing our efforts now. You may have noticed a shift in our approach to focusing on the accumulation phase and the distribution phase. These two broad categories give you insights into the two frames of mind you need to successfully navigate your own retirement planning strategy.

Retirement Planning Strategy – doing the right things during the accumulation phase.
I am a big fan of best practices, and this seems like a reasonable place to start with respect to retirement saving. Here’s How to Build Wealth Like a Multimillionaire
Every move you make in the run up to your retirement is important. The last moves are often the most important. Steps to Take in the Year Before You Retire
This robo-advisor, Wealthfront, is getting a lot of press. Indeed last week we shared a comparison of Wealthfront vs. Vanguard as an investment model. Here is some more background on Wealthfront, if you were intrigued. Wealthfront Review 2016: Fees and Investment Facts

Retirement Planning Strategy – delivering income in retirement.
Here is a review of global best practices. See how other countries smooth the transition to the ‘distribution phase.’ What the US gets wrong about lifetime income
I may be an outlier, preaching the value of annuities. I am particularly fond of lifetime income annuities. This quick read gives you a sense for some options. The deferred income annuity is just a QLAC (Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract) for non-qualified money. 5 Best Annuities for Your Financial Plan
Read this cautionary tale about Spain’s retirement safety net and Social Security, and you will contact your representative about getting something done here. Spain’s Bankrupt Social Security System – Is This What Awaits the U.S. Too?
To be fair, the 4% rule was sound when proposed. Here are some ways to rescue it for today, if you prefer a simpler model. Here Are the 4% Retirement Rule’s Major Flaws

Retirement Planning Strategy – plan for your future expenses.
I realize no one wants to consider this, but …. Fact is healthcare and long term care costs are a big, glaring reality in retirement. Plan for them, you will thank me. How to Pay for Nursing Home Care

Retirement Planning Strategy – understand the investing/retirement environment.
Here is a quick checklist to consider. Longevity, of course, plays a large role. Nine different ways to think about money
This piece gives interesting background of the retirement plan options and the drivers of the retirement funding challenge. Why the Retirement Train Wrecked

Your Retirement Game Plan

Labor Day Weekend seems like the ideal time to think about Your Retirement Game Plan. What better thought for the holiday weekend than considering when you no longer have to work? So, this time we give you as much current thinking as possible on the most vital steps to take in planning for your future, long, healthy retirement: Your Retirement Game Plan.

Your Retirement Game Plan – doing the right things during the accumulation phase.
Active vs. passive, stocks or bonds, self-serve or advisory, there are many choices. Robo-advisors are the latest wave, and this article gives good insight into the implications. Wealthfront vs. Vanguard: Which is the Better Choice for Retirement Investors
You have read here before about the power of compounding. It never hurts to reiterate, the more you can save, the earlier … the better. The Power of Compound Interest
Of course, you should also invest wisely. Use all the tools at your disposal to get the best possible outcome. Why you might want more than one IRA

Your Retirement Game Plan – generate income during your retirement.
If you choose to be a more active investor, dividend stocks are a good way to generate income and maintain capital.  The nice thing about this one is it gives a way to set a portion of your savings here. Setting Up a Solid Dividend Portfolio with Only $10,000
Not only that, there is a constant stream of analysis out there to help. This one is a bit dated, but gives you a good idea of what you can find. Dividend Stock Yields 19%, Way Below Book Value, Major Growth, Reports This Week
I will continue to harp on the QLAC (Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract) until you get one. The one thing none of us know is how long we will live. This is insurance against that. Learn more about it, please. How Retirement Savers Are Stretching Their IRAs: The QLAC Archipelago
Stay up to date on developments in the retirement industry, too. Try this on for size: “The first person who will live to be 150 years old already has been born.” – Michael Kazanjian, Lincoln Financial Group’s vice president for annuity and retirement plan services marketing. Retirement income innovations aim to ease longevity’s strain on assets

Your Retirement Game Plan – know your future expenses.
We discuss the “4% Rule” and other ways to consider managing your savings during retirement, i.e. the distribution phase. Lately the literature is turning to a more enlightened view, that expenses change over time in retirement. It makes sense, right?  It is worth a good, hard look as a preferred alternative to boilerplate ideas. How to Invest in Retirement
This is the tricky part, unusual expenses. Imagine, while 28% never see one, 19% get hit with four or more. 17 unexpected expenses in retirement

Your Retirement Game Plan – understand what you are up against.
Sometimes it is worth looking back. This entertaining article shows how we just don’t know what we don’t know. The One Factor to Explain Them All

Improve Your Outcome

In a small twist on our normal approach we seek to help you improve your outcome. Retirement planning is a multi-faceted issue, and our regular focus on cost and strategy will get you to a better place. Sometimes, though, it is worth taking a bigger picture view to understand the landscape. We believe you can improve your outcome by having a better handle on the investing environment.

Improve your outcome by doing the right things during the accumulation phase.
We talk a lot about the active vs. passive investment debate raging in the industry. No doubt the bull markets since the bottom in 2009 have helped passive investments. It has also made it hard to outperform as an active investor. The tide continues to flow from active approaches to passive. Investors Have Pulled $109 Billion from Active Equity Funds in 2016: Here’s Why At the same time, the debate rages on in ever more unpredictable ways. Are Index Funds Communist? and Why the hottest investment trend in the world could have worse economic outcomes than Marxism
We should not miss the other rising star in the investment community, robo-advisors. Here is an interesting introduction and comparison of the robo advisor approach to the passive. Robo-Advisors vs. Passively Managed Funds: Which is Better? (WFC, SCHW)

Improve your outcome by understanding your retirement options.
We like to give you as much information as possible about your expenses during retirement. That is one key – along with longevity – to understanding how much you need to save in your working years. Here is a good overview to help you understand your retirement expenses from Forbes. How to Budget for Retirement
Hopefully by now this does not bring a lot of new information to you, but it does summarize a number of salient points with respect to your likely retirement cornerstone. 14 Things You Really Should Know About Your 401(k) Retirement Plans

Improve your outcome by understanding the data.
We talk about longevity often and healthcare costs in retirement about as much. Here is a damning piece on just what our expensive healthcare system buys the US compared with the rest of the world.  Life expectancy vs. health expenditure over time (1970 – 2014)
As if that were not bad enough, the implications worsen with lower incomes … and geography. The Rich Live Longer Everywhere. For the Poor, Geography Matters

Improve your outcome by improving your world view.
We rarely venture to the trivial any longer. Since it is August, why not indulge in some mind expanding beyond the retirement arena? 20 Gifs That Teach You Science Concepts in Seconds
If you want to talk really big picture, try on the Fermi Paradox for size. The Fermi Paradox
Since we are talking big picture things beyond your retirement, how about solving the potable water problem? The solar-powered sculpture that could desalinate 1.5 billion gallons of drinking water for California

Longevity Quandary

With each installment, I find the best thinking on retirement, and this week is a treasure trove of commentary on the longevity quandary. Michael Phelps presumably just wrapping his competitive swimming career is a great model for longevity. Both Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt competed in four Olympic Games … and neither won a medal the first time. There may be an analog here because that is not what you remember about either of them. The lesson for the rest of us is to work harder, longer on your savings because you will be retired longer.

Leverage the longevity quandary by watching expenses in your retirement accounts.
Sad to say I would not think to ask a Department of Labor employee for advice on retirement. This former one, however, makes a series of worthwhile points about common mistakes. I encourage you to read it. 10 Retirement Mistakes Baby Boomers are Making
We always harp on costs. When you consider the longevity impact on costs, it is even worse. So you must strive to lower your total investment cost structure. It can be as easy as having a simple, effective strategy and sticking with it. A financial planner says most people don’t need to pay someone to manage their investments

Leverage the longevity quandary by ensuring you save enough for retirement.
Here is a really good, comprehensive piece on just what challenges longevity brings, and ways to address them. The Longevity Paradox
We have mentioned HSAs before, but this drives home the point about. Fact is you will spend a lot of your own money on healthcare in retirement. An HSA is a way to save pre-tax money now, not get taxed on growth, and not get taxed when you withdraw for medical expenses … there is simply no better answer. Why Advisors Need to Know about HSAs
Just in case you forgot, or simply don’t believe me, here’s the latest on medical expenses in retirement. Health Care Expenses for Retired Couples Hit Record $260,000 : Fidelity
On a related note, long-term care insurance is an important thing to consider … just weigh the cost/benefit wisely. These tricks can help tilt the balance in favor of buying. 4 Tax-Friendly Ways to Pay for Long-Term-Care Insurance
Here is an advisor’s eye view of these medical costs in retirement. More importantly, the implications of the DOL fiduciary rule on advice you will get on them. It lays out some hard dollar costs and is promising in anticipating incorporation into plans under the new rule. Add this to your DOL checklist: health, LTC costs in retirement

Leverage the longevity quandary by focusing on building an income stream for retirement.
Switching mindset from accumulating wealth to generating income is a key retirement transition. Longevity, though, may have some bearing on when you make that move. Longevity and Your Retirement
Changing your mindset should begin with understanding your needs. This piece helps you put your retirement income needs into perspective. How to Solve the Retirement Income Equation
Here is some interesting insight on IRAs, and 401(k)/403(b) for that matter. They may not be the best in retirement vehicle for you when you consider longevity risk. IRAs are for retirement planning, not for retirement
Here is a fascinating, refreshing look at the retirement income puzzle. Is retirement spending a level pattern? Should you use a simple rule like the 4% rule? This says no. What is the “Retirement Spending Smile”