Category Archives: Retirement Security

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

Retirement Status

With the election just behind us and year-end just ahead it is time to seriously consider your retirement status. Why not start with a behavioral check-up: are you doing the right things and enough of them? Follow that with a quick look at what a Trump administration might mean for your savings. If that scares you away – or the election did – by all means save money on your international flights!

Retirement Status: No time like the present to have a close look
First and foremost, don’t be overconfident. Americans have a dismal track record on saving for retirement. Do yourself a favor and stay on it.  Think you’re prepared for retirement? Answer these six questions.
We often focus on longevity here, a corollary to that is aggressiveness. Since you will be retired for a long time, you need to invest appropriately. The old rules may not apply. 60% of Americans Invest Too Conservatively for Retirement, Study Shows
Always be looking for good tips. 3 Fantastic Retirement Tips and Tricks
Then, of course, we really do not know what a Trump Presidency will bring. So, be cautious and look for opportunities. How Trump Could Change the Retirement Landscape An Unexpected $12 Trillion Hole Emerges in Donald Trump’s Plan to “Make America Great Again”

Retirement Status: Tips if you plan to leave the US now (Kanye, Miley, Whoopi, etc.)
You may as well leave on the cheap, and I have come across a whole lot of good ideas on how. Revealed, the Secret Travel Tips that Airlines Don’t Want You to Know
Here is Why Using Google Flight Track Can Save You Serious Money
Never book flights on Fridays – and eight other tips for getting cheap airfares
I’ve Accidentally Discovered a Way to Save up to 75% on American Tickets

Folksy Investing

I am always looking for the finest analysis to share, this week I turn to Folksy Investing. This article Getting Asset Allocation Right for Retirement struck me with how simple and folksy it was. No doubt Henry is a retired aeronautical engineer … or line worker … from Boeing, still his advice is simple. Sometimes I think it pays to go with what feels right.
Folksy Investing: Henry uses 105 as a baseline, how long will your retirement go?
It is a common refrain here, longevity is a giant variable in your retirement planning. Annuities can often help moderate that longevity risk.  Are You Missing Out on Guaranteed Income Because of These 5 Misconceptions?

We often talk about healthcare costs in retirement and inflation is a concern, too. In this low return world even low inflation can make a difference. Inflation is Coming Back – What Does That Mean for You?
Speaking of healthcare cost in retirement, here’s another good primer on that. Retirement health care estimates vs. reality
Finally, here is a nice summation of the risks you face, including the three we are focusing in on today. Navigating 5 critical retirement risks
 

Folksy Investing: Some more good tools and tips for your retirement.
We often highlight dividend stocks as a means of generating income. How will they fare in any downturn, though? You certainly don’t want to lose a whole lot of principal. 3 Reliable Dividend Stocks Yielding 7% or More
So how do you handle the ups and downs of markets? Your nest egg will vary in value over time, is there a way to account for that? Here is one idea. Ratcheting Up Retirement Spending
So what are the odds markets will correct? Who knows? Some say the election will do it, if Trump wins. Others say it is all ‘baked in’ already. Perhaps ask yourself are things as good as markets would indicate? Unemployment rate is 4.9%, but a more realistic rate is higher than that and The Story of Durable Goods is the Story of the (Global) Economy
This may be too little, too late, given the proximity of the election, but … The philosophy of Marcus Aurelius is supposed to make you be more resilient and at peace – here’s how to master it in 7 days
Speaking of the election, you may want these tips, too. A new travel app is offering the lowest flight prices we’ve ever seen and Surprise! This Cruise is Actually on a Luxury Yacht, and It’s Everything Anti-Cruisers Could Hope For

Optimized Retirement

This week we have a hard look at your optimized retirement. Make sure you are not missing something in your retirement planning. Plus, keep a keen eye on your retirement plan … what is your goal and what is your strategy?

Optimized Retirement – never miss a trick.
If you are like most, you are behind the curve on saving. Here are some tips to beef it up as quickly as you can. 7 Retirement Planning Steps Late Starters Must Take
We can’t say it enough, make the most of your tax advantaged retirement plans. Four 401(k) Benefits You Should Take Advantage Of
This is not what you may think … beware of concentration in one company’s stock … your company. Wells Fargo Is Your Last Warning: Check Your 401(k)
No surprise here, but the mistake is pretty simple, be more aggressive. Over 50% of Americans are Making This Colossal Mistake How to Get Over Your Worries and Invest Like You Should for Retirement
If you are close to retirement, read this now. 5 Things Near-Retirees Need to Do Before Calling it a Career

Optimized Retirement – do your planning and start early.
This one is not precise, but it is thought provoking, and that is what matters. How Do You Know How Much Income You Need In Retirement?
Planning is great, but you need to act, too. Here are some reminders on that front. Retirement Planning Moves to Make Right Now
Here is an interesting blog focused on retirement income planning. Fish around, you may find something that strikes a chord. The Retirement Cafe
This blog is a little more basic, explaining some fundamentals, but that does not mean it is not worth a look. The difference between a managed fund and an index fund, for example, may be a worthwhile read for some. AssetBuilder

Optimized Retirement – this crazy election threatens to tear us apart, don’t let it.
For one thing, this is not the first time. The Top 10 Ways 2016 Presidential Politics Are So 1840
Now I will say this again, for those who get this far down, I take no side in this and feel everyone should educate themselves about each candidate … since most agree there is no perfect solution this time. So, with that in mind, I give you some interesting background reading. Even critics underestimate how catastrophically bad the Hillary Clinton-led NATO bombing of Libya was The Daily Trump The Clinton Russia Fiction HSBC case blows lid off Clintons’ offshore empire

Retirement and Travel

In the wake of the first 2016 Presidential debate, it seems fitting to focus on your retirement and travel. We have the two most disliked candidates and a bevy of possible downside scenarios. So locking down your best possible retirement and using travel to escape seem like reasonable areas of focus.

Retirement and Travel – first ensure you lock down the best possible retirement.
The easiest way to ensure your best retirement is by not making mistakes. Here is a list of easy ones – probably focus on the last two, being too conservative or too aggressive. 5 Simple Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Retirement
In a similar vein, albeit a more positive spin, Blackrock shares some tips to kill it. It’s Time to Ace Retirement
Then there’s always optimizing your approach. We often talk  dividend investing, lowering fees and leveraging tax incentives that exist.  This great article gives you a pointer that combines all three. Enjoy. Dividend Investing in a Roth IRA
Now this one does not tell you a lot. It does say most likely you should work longer than you think. Of course if you did all the right things, not so much. This is why you should delay your retirement
Then, of course, there’s this option: retiring overseas. I suspect many will think hard about this given the now 50% shot of …. On a Jet to the Best Foreign Retirement Possible

Retirement and Travel – now, escape the mayhem and turn off your devices.
In this toxic political environment, and the inevitable aftermath, your travel thoughts likely turn overseas. So, bookmark this one to avoid any unwanted ‘ugly American’ moments. These are the worst faux pas you can make in 17 different countries
Use every trick in the book to save money and enjoy a great trip. 4 Apps Airlines Don’t Want You to Know About 5 Travel Hacks You Didn’t Know About, Right from the Mouth of Flight Attendants and How to Get the Lowest Airfares
I feel pretty savvy when it comes to online bookings, but this was news to me. How online travel agencies are ‘dimming’ results on hotel searches
Then, of course, there’s the option to travel and not retire … try this on for size … it’s a fun read, anyway. 11 Insane Perks of Being an Emirates Flight Attendant

Your Retirement Health

Each week we consider ways to improve your retirement health. This week we look at the right things for each phase to maximize your savings and optimize your retirement.

Your Retirement Health – use the tools they give you during the accumulation phase.
We will harp on HSAs (Health Savings Accounts) until you have one…it will improve your retirement health, both ways. 4 Things You Should Know About Health Savings Accounts
Don’t miss an opportunity, either, especially those given to you. 3 Valuable Incentives to Save for Retirement
Plus, of course, maximize all those tools you are given. 3 Questions That Can Help You Get the Most from Your 401(k)

Your Retirement Health – the transition from wealth accumulation to distribution.
Not everyone has it made, especially when it comes to retirement savings. So, what can you do if you really are not prepared? A retirement plan for the working 99%
Even if you think you have enough, can you weather an extended period of low returns? Retiring Early in a World of Low Returns
One thing to be sure of is avoiding missteps anywhere in the process. Derailing the Plan: How Retirees Shoot Themselves in the Foot How Couples Screw Up Retirement Planning

Your Retirement Health – be creative when you do retire.
For the real adventurer … or simply someone who has not saved enough … explore your options beyond the borders. After this election, you may thank yourself as it improves your retirement health. 8 Countries Where $200K in Retirement Savings will Last 30 Years The World’s 10 Most Livable Cities A Breakdown of Costs for Those Who Want to Retire Overseas
If you are not that daring, there are always these great spots right here at home. 10 of the Prettiest U.S. Towns to Retire

Your Retirement Health – be aware of the investing/retirement environment.
These gems are exquisitely crafted, quick condensations of 50 years investment experience. These are data driven, data laden even, yet they are easy to grasp and worth remembering. Bob Farrell’s (Illustrated) 10 Investment Rules
Everyone knows how great the bull market has been since the bottom in 2009. You also know that central banks around the world have been stoking the fire constantly since 2008, or before. How do the two relate? Are they doing your retirement health any favors? Deutsche Bank Calculates How Much of the S&Ps Value is Due to Central Banks

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”