How to Create a Solid Retirement Plan
These days, preparing for retirement can feel like you’re in some sort of matrix. Not only are there more retirement investing options than ever, but the future looks very unsettled. How can you create a solid retirement plan in this environment?
Start with retirement asset location
This is simply about deciding where your retirement assets will be located. This is a critical decision because there are so many options.
Some people are content to accumulate all of their retirement assets in a single retirement investment vehicle. While that may be convenient, it’s not the best type of retirement planning from a strategic standpoint. Just as you would diversify your investment portfolio, you should also diversify your retirement plans. As the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
When it comes to retirement planning, there are a few basic options, and you’ll want to take advantage of them, especially from a tax standpoint.
Here are the primary options:
Taxable accounts. These are traditional investment brokerage accounts, or even mutual funds, that are held outside of tax-sheltered retirement plans. You should have a significant portion of your money in these accounts because they will enable you to withdrawal funds once you reach retirement age without incurring any tax consequences. They can also represent primary emergency funds after you retire, that way you can preserve your tax-sheltered accounts for income generation.
Tax deferred plans. These include employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as 401(k) plans, as well as traditional IRAs. These should represent the largest share of your retirement assets, since they are tax-deferred, and some have very generous contribution limits. They are however taxable upon withdrawal, which is why you need to diversify your money into taxable accounts and tax-free plans.
Tax-Free plans. This relates primarily to Roth IRAs. Though you get no tax deduction when you contribute to these plans, the investment earnings on the plan are tax-deferred. But more important, there’ll be no tax on withdrawals as long as you are at least 59 ½ and have been in the plan for at least five years when you begin taking them. This will mean that at least some of your income in retirement will be tax-free, and that will be extremely important if you have multiple income sources. You can contribute to $5,500 to a Roth IRA for 2015, or $6,500 if you are 50 or older.
How do you chose among these retirement plans?
Obviously, retirement investing in tax-deferred plans will be your first choice, since these will likely represent your most important income when you retire. If you have an employer-sponsored plan, such as a 401(k) plan, you should certainly enroll in the plan, particularly if the employer matches contributions. Failing that, you should set up your own IRA and fund it each and every year with the highest amount you’re able.
If you do have employer-sponsored plan, you should supplement it by contributing to a Roth IRA. There are income limits for Roth IRAs for those who are covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan. But you can still make what is known as a “backdoor Roth IRA contribution”, by making a nondeductible traditional IRA contributions (there are no income limits for this), then doing a Roth IRA conversion (see below).
You should also fund taxable investment accounts, since you never want to have all of your money in tax sheltered plans. If you do, and you need something more than your emergency fund has, you’ll have to pay taxes and early withdrawal penalties to pull money out of your tax sheltered accounts.
It should go without saying that you should invest all you can in taxable accounts in the event that you are not covered by employer-sponsored retirement plan.
Basics on Social Security – But will it be there when your turn comes?
Social Security has become the giant X factor in retirement planning. As it is currently constructed the plan is fiscally unsound. That means at a minimum, we should expect less from it than current retirees are receiving.
There are at least three possible outcomes to the Social Security crisis – short of the plan blowing up and disappearing forever:
- Benefits will be reduced
- The retirement age will be increased, perhaps substantially
- We’ll be paid in inflated dollars that will have far less purchasing power than they do nowThis is why it is so important to make sure that you have retirement savings. They’re probably the best insurance we have against a partial or full default by Social Security.It’s also possible to manage how much benefit you receive from Social Security. For example, the later that you retire, the higher your monthly benefit will be.
You can get an estimate of your future Social Security benefits, by going to the Social Security Administration’s Retirement Estimator page. On that page you’ll be given instructions on how to use the estimator, and what the qualifications are. You can use the estimator to run various scenarios as to what your benefit will be.
How to rollover an IRA
If you have IRAs, you’ll most likely be faced with the task of rolling one or more over at some point in the future.
Any IRA account can be rolled over into another IRA without incurring a tax liability or penalties, as long as it‘s done in a timely manner (within 60 days of distribution). Employer-sponsored retirement plans can also be rolled over into an IRA upon terminating your employment.
The rollover methods into an IRA are similar to what they are for a Roth IRA conversion (see below), except that the funds are being rolled over into a traditional IRA, not a Roth.
How to convert a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA
You can also roll a traditional IRA over into a Roth IRA, but it‘s more complicated.
Roth IRA contributions are limited to $5,500 a year ($6,500 if you’re 50 or older), however there are no dollar limits for IRA conversions to a Roth IRA. Also, the income limits that apply to Roth IRA contributions do not apply to Roth IRA conversions.
Unless you are rolling one Roth IRA over to another, the rollover of funds from a traditional IRA will create a tax liability. The amount of the rollover will be subject to ordinary tax rates, but there will be no 10 percent early withdrawal penalty tax on the transfer.
The tax bite can be substantial, as you will be exchanging a tax-deferred retirement asset for one that will be completely tax-free in retirement. For many people, that will be an exchange well worth making.
The transfer must be done properly or the penalties will be severe. It is best to handle the Roth conversion with strong input from a competent tax expert, fully coordinated with the brokerage firms or trustees that are involved. Translation: Roth IRA conversions are not the time for the DIY thing.
Here are the IRS rules on traditional IRA to Roth IRA conversions:
- Rollover – You receive a distribution from a traditional IRA and contribute it to a Roth IRA within 60 days after the distribution (the distribution check is payable to you);
- Trustee-to-trustee transfer – You tell the financial institution holding your traditional IRA assets to transfer an amount directly to the trustee of your Roth IRA at a different financial institution (the distributing trustee may achieve this by issuing you a check payable to the new trustee);
- Same trustee transfer – If your traditional and Roth IRAs are maintained at the same financial institution, you can tell the trustee to transfer an amount from your traditional IRA to your Roth IRA.
The conversion is reported on your tax return with the IRS Form 8606, Nondeductible IRAs. More information is available through IRS Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs).
There’s a lot involved in retirement planning, and you’ll have to have a solid strategy as to how to approach it.
New England Heartbreak
I grew up about 50 miles north of Boston, in a little town called Pepperell. As a young boy I was a big football fan as I watched my beloved New England Patriots have their share of heartbreaks:
- I watched them lose the Super Bowl in 1985 to Refrigerator Perry and the relentless Chicago Bears defense in a 46-10 old school beat down.
- Then I suffered through a near winless season as the Patriots went 1-15 in 1990. I still can’t believe they actually won a game that year!
- It didn’t get much better my senior year of high school as my team went 2-14 in 1992. Can it get any worse?
- Then in my college years, I finally saw some winning years under Coach Bill Parcells: Hope was on the way!
- The Patriots had four years in a row when the team made the playoffs. It was highlighted by a trip back to the Super Bowl in 1997. However, my hopes were dashed as they once again lost on the big stage, falling 35-21 to Brett Favre and the Packers.
Y2K Changed My Team’s Destiny
Then in 2000 something significantly changed! As Y2K became the concern of the computer world, my team changed its destiny!
It didn’t happen right away. In fact it took almost 18 months to unfold…
At first it seemed very minor. The Patriots made a head coaching change like it had many times before. This year, it went from Pete Carroll (Yes the same guy who now coaches the Seattle Seahawks) to a relatively unknown guy named Bill Belichick.
Coach Belichick had been a mostly, failed head coach for the Cleveland Browns in the early to mid 1990s, but had a great resume as a Defensive Coordinator winning Super Bowls with the New York Giants.
His first year out of the gate in New England wasn’t too impressive… The Patriots finished in last place with a 5-11 record.
However, the next season the magic began!
The Patriots won their first of four Super Bowls.
Since Coach Belichick took over as Head Coach:
- The Patriots have finished first or second in the AFC East every year since 2001. Both second place finishes were caused by tiebreakers.
- They have won four Super Bowls and been to 6 in the last 15 years.
- New England has won six AFC Championship Games,
- It has won twelve AFC East titles
- Overall the team amassed a regular season record of 137–53.
Winning in a salary cap era is harder than it seems!
Now the National Football League (NFL) is not like many other sports where teams can go out and buy whoever they want. Every team has to play within a salary cap. Your team has a set amount of money it can spend each year and it cannot go over that limit.
Teams go out all the time and give away the moon and stars to sign one or a few big name players. These players sign monster contracts and can ruin a teams salary cap space for years or even decades.
In a day and age of the salary cap, how can the Patriots put up 15 years of such significant success?
Bill Belichick has been the king at managing the NFL’s salary cap! He has made all the difference in the world because of his incredible talent of roster management.
Recently Jason from Over the Cap, one of the best sites on the planet looking at NFL salary cap issues, answered a few questions about the salary cap. In this Q&A session, he specifically mentioned the Patriots as the top team managing the salary cap.
Here is a quote that stood out to me:
“What sets New England apart isn’t so much the financial acumen (the Patriots have had more than their fair share of bad deals), but their steadfast approach to valuation of a player. They don’t waver or allow themselves to be taken advantage of. They are cold as ice when it comes to their players. It goes back years, to the team cutting Lawyer Milloy on the eve of the season. No player is bigger than the organization. Whether it was Wes Welker, Randy Moss, Richard Seymour, Logan Mankins, Mike Vrabel, Deion Branch or a number of other players, the team either turned the players into draft picks or walked away without getting stuck in a bad contract.
Just the fact that they would approach Tom Brady about accepting a contract that would pay him in the ballpark of $10 million a year is something to appreciate. The Patriots can also be very quietly generous with their players to build that trust with a player who performs.”
What does this have to do with investing?
Here are 5 ways investing is like the NFL salary cap:
- Don’t pay too much! In the world of investing you need to make sure you don’t pay too much for a company. As an investor, your job is to find value. Whenever a transaction takes place someone is selling and someone is buying. The person selling believes they are selling at the best possible price while the buyer believes they are buying at the best possible price. Over time only one of them will be right! To be a succesful investor, you must become good at valuing investments.
The NFL is similar. A General Manager’s job is to understand the true value of a player. They have to evaluate talent, consider the short and long-term implications of each contract to ensure they build a roster of championship-caliber players. What if the GM overpays for one player and he gets hurt or fails to live up to expectations? What if he pays too much for several players? If a GM makes a series of wrong moves it can sabotage the team for a long period of time. Just ask the New York Jets.
- You only have a limited amount of capital, make it count! Your portfolio has a limited amount of capital. Each investment you make can help or hurt your portfolio! You have a limited amount of funds. Just like an NFL team has a salary cap, your portfolio has a dollar cap. Whether it’s $1,000, $100,000, a $1 million, or more, you can only spend so much.
So you have to be wise with your investments. If you place too much into one bad company it can sink your portfolio for years to come… Yes you may be able to add to your portfolio over time, but the amount you have today needs to be managed wisely for your future.
- Spotting opportunities before others can prove to be extremely profitable over time. In the investment world, finding companies before others do can lead to huge wins. When we found Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) at $37 a share or Vipshop Holdings (NASDAQ:VIPS) at $7.20 (split adjusted) or Hanesbrands (NYSE: HBI) at $12.90 (split adjusted), it has allowed us to double, triple, and even quadruple our returns. Getting into these companies early has paid off over time. These three stocks are a big reason the Contrarian Strategies Portfolio is up nearly 160% since 2010.
Tom Brady, who was taken by the New England Patriots in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL draft, is a true example of a diamond in the rough. The Patriots found their future franchise quarterback seeing value where others missed it. By doing so, they spotted one of the best quarterbacks of all-time while other teams missed out. If you think the Patriots just “lucked out” read this article on how the Patriots drafted Brady.
- Persistence and patience pay off in the long run. It often takes time to see what you really have. Many times it can take months or years for an investment idea to pay off. Very rarely does a stock just double or triple in value overnight. The event may happen regularly but finding those ideas consistently can be quite challenging. You often strike out quite a bit before hitting a home run. But if you have a solid investment game plan, your portfolio can double or triple over time and have a lot more consistency.
It is the same way with building an NFL roster. Very rarely does a trade or a signing change a team overnight. Instead it usually pays off over the course of a season or in many cases over several seasons. A player or players may need time to develop or learn the system. It may take a team a while to understand a player’s key strengths and weaknesses and how to best use that player. Many people criticize the “Patriot way” which seems to be a cold business, but they have produced one of the most successful franchises in all of sports.
- Be diversified. Investors should never place too much of their portfolio into any one company no matter how good of an idea it might seem. Instead by diversifying into many companies in many sectors, you can build a winning portfolio just like a championship team!
In a league that regularly hands out $5 million, $10 million, even $20 million a year contracts, the Patriots rarely spend more than $5 million a year on any one player. Instead they build quality and depth on its 53-man roster. The last player is as important as the first. That is how they have sustained a 15-year winning run. They don’t put all their eggs in one basket.
Bottom Line: Investing is a long-term process that involves having a solid strategy for the future. It takes time and a consistent approach to be successful. Following these five key principles will make you a better investor!
| Wall St Renegade helps investors morally screen their stocks and mutual funds. Through a state of the art process, we can take a look at your portfolio to see if it lines up with your faith and values. We utilize comprehensive tools for culturally conservative investors who are looking to monitor and receive accountability for their investment portfolios. We have the ability to screen over 12,000 mutual funds and over 10,000 stocks. We can also look at your variable annuities and other investments to see if they match your values.
|Moral responsible investing has proven to be effective over the years. When investors are faced with the opportunity to see where they are investing, they appreciate the need for a morals-based investment screening process. Investors who are concerned with where their investment dollars are ending up often are shocked to know they are investing in things like abortion, pornography, and embryonic stem cell research, to name a few. Our screening process provides investors with the tools and information they need to make sure their investments match their values!
|Of the thousands of publicly traded companies, less than 10% fail our moral and ethical screening process. This leaves us over 90% of the investment universe to select from.Companies that we monitor include:
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|Using our screening software, we can screen your portfolio utilizing five cultural screens and three consumer screens. Our screening process is built on upholding Biblical principles. Here are the issues we can screen for:
|Cultural Screening Process:
||Companies involved in Abortion, Pornography, Explicit Entertainment, Homosexual Activism (promotion of lifestyles and rights)
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||Companies involved in vices like: Alcohol, Tobacco, and Gambling
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Christian Investing: 5 Steps to be More Faithful
As Christians, we long to hear the words “well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23). One of the ways we can be faithful with our money is the manner in which we invest. Christian financial stewardship is about how we earn income, how we tithe, how we save and invest, and many other facets of our financial lives.
Are you concerned about where your money is being invested? Wouldn’t you like to get a good return and feel good about what you are supporting?
Let me ask you an important question: How do you feel about the moral direction of our country?
What I mean is…
Do any of the trends on the list below make your blood boil or your heartache?
- The rising number of abortion clinics, facilities and activist groups…
- The shady deceptive practices being used by the pornography industry…
- The number of families being torn apart by addictions ranging from alcohol to drugs to gambling… or the number of deaths caused by the tobacco industry…
- The promotion of homosexuality in the media, in entertainment and in government…
Do you ever wonder who supports these types of damaging organizations and industries…who exactly are the faces and companies behind such obvious threats to the moral fabric of our country?
Are you, like me, outraged by the damaging effects these types of groups and industries have on our communities and our families.
If so, then you might want to sit down…
Because, the truth is, your investment dollars may actually be strengthening these industries.
In short, your money may be helping to create and to sustain the very industries you despise.
Now, let me be blunt…
If what I’ve just said doesn’t concern you… if you consider profits at any cost ok… if the
ends justify the means… then I’m wasting your time and you can just STOP reading this article immediately.
However, if you are concerned about where your investment dollars end up—and what they support, then you should know…there is an alternative.
An alternative that can keep your hard-earned dollars away from these immoral industries (or any other industry that doesn’t line-up with your values) and instead place your dollars with companies and industries you will be proud to own.
It’s an alternative I call ―”Faith-Based investing”.
Best of all you won’t have to sacrifice investment gains.
In fact, you could beat the Wall Street ―pros by placing your principles and values first.
Let me explain how this got started…
A Life Changing Question
Has anyone ever asked you a question that you couldn’t answer? Not a question of knowledge but one of those really deep meaningful, complex questions of life.
You know the type…like the first time you wrestled with…
Is there life after death?
Do you believe in God?
Is Jesus the ONLY way to heaven?
Imagine yourself for a moment, listening to a soul-searching question… so convicting, paralyzing and deep it penetrates the depths of your soul.
A question that shakes the moral foundation your life is built upon.
A question that once answered will require you to make changes you’d never considered before.
My name is Jay Peroni and I was faced with just such a question.
A question that after nearly ten years of professional experience, a masters degree in financial planning and rigorous training to become a Certified Financial Planning (CFP®) professional left me speechless…
It was a question that overloaded my professional circuitry and left me feeling both cowardly and incompetent. Sixteen years of school and years of professional experience had simply not prepared me for the question.
So what was the question that ultimately caused me to walk away from my cushy 6-figure financial career and start FaithBasedInvestor.com?
It was this…
“Jay, can I expect God to bless my investments if I am investing in companies that violate His principles?”
The question came from a Christian woman that also happened to be one of my clients.
Little did I know at the time her question would send me on a painstaking and revealing two-year journey.
However, today I can answer the question with confidence, clarity and conviction.
Better yet, thanks to thousands of hours of research, I can now show you how to build a solid portfolio that enriches your life and your wallet. I can help you become a better, “faith-based” investor!
Do your investments line up with your faith and values? Are there social or moral issues important to you? The “proud to own” process is about aligning your portfolio with your values…
Faith-Based Investing Made Simple!
- Set up a VIP membership and brokerage account. We suggest using folioinvesting.com or www.sharebuilder.com to save on fees.
- Answer our asset allocation questionnaire or select one of our 7 portfolio strategies. Our 2015 Faith-Based Asset Allocation Models are online, simply go to
- Buy the suggested investments. Mirror our asset allocation models or mirror one of our 7 portfolio strategies.
- Watch for trade alerts. Whenever we buy or sell a position we will send out a trade alert and let you know what to do next…
- Make the suggested changes. It’s really that simple!
Our Faith-Based Approach seeks to help you:
- Discover what values are important
- Align your investments with your values
- Design a portfolio that embraces your faith
- Implement a strategy to grow your assets
- Manage your portfolio
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1. Must be in a short-term uptrend.
2. Must be in a long-term uptrend.
3. Must have a Relative Strength (RS) rating above 90.
4. Must be in a rising sector or sector expected to rebound quickly.
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Retired or close to retirement?
No matter how much money you save for retirement, it’s an inescapable fact that there’s a real chance that you can outlive your retirement savings. After a lifetime of diligent retirement planning, this would be a truly unfortunate outcome.
What are the reasons why you might outlive your retirement savings and, more important, how can you avoid that happening?
The Reasons You Might Outlive Your Retirement Savings
There are several big picture factors that make the prospect of outliving your retirement savings a very real threat. Here are four of them, and they are all beyond your control.
1. Life spans are increasing.
When Social Security was enacted back in 1935, the average lifespan was about 65 years. It’s no surprise then that the age of retirement was set at 65. The situation is very different today. Not only is the average lifespan today sitting at around 78, but many people live well into their eighties, and often their nineties. That means retirement assets are needed to cover more than a few years. If you retire at age 65, you may need them to last for 20, 25, or even 30 years.
This is the fly in the ointment of all retirement planning. Not only is inflation a major X factor in determining how much money you’ll need by the time you retire, but it will continue to be a problem even after you retire. The million-dollar retirement portfolio that you accumulated by age 65 may prove to be completely inadequate but the time you’re 75 or 80. The combination of inflation, plus plan withdrawals, can whittle down a portfolio in short order.
3. Boomerang kids.
This is a growing phenomenon over the past decade or two. Young people, unable to earn living wages, saddled with large student loan debts, or dealing with the problems of divorce, are coming back to live with their parents in increasing numbers. This holds open the very real possibility that one or more of your children may come back to live with you at some point during your retirement. When this happens, it can not only raise your basic cost of living, but the adult child may be in need of direct financial assistance.
4. Interest rates are microscopic.
With interest rates on fixed income investments now hovering in the low single digit range, you will be more dependent on the equity markets for income than previous generations of retirees have been. If most of your portfolio is sitting in stocks, you could lose a significant amount of money in a major market downturn. As a retiree, it won’t be as easy to recover from those losses.
Okay – enough bad news. What can you do to avoid or at least minimize some of these outcomes?
General Objectives to Keep from Outliving Your Money
We’ll start by outlining basic objectives to avoid outliving your retirement savings, then we’ll take a look at some specific strategies later.
Reduce the number of years you’ll be in retirement.
This is a strategy that deals with the increased longevity issue. The average 65-year-old can reasonably expect to live to be 85 – that will mean that your retirement portfolio will need to last for 20 years. But if you can delay retiring until age 70, you will reduce your dependence on your portfolio from 20 years down to 15. That by itself is one of the most effective strategies to prevent outliving your retirement savings.
Delay tapping your retirement assets.
You can still retire at your normal retirement age, but if you can avoid withdrawing funds from your retirement savings, it will have the same effect as delaying your retirement age. You may be able to do this by relying on Social Security and pension income, by keeping your expenses low, and by using some income sources that we’ll talk about in the next section.
Allow more time for your retirement assets to grow.
By delaying your retirement, or delaying tapping your retirement assets, you will give your portfolio more time to grow. As an example, let’s say that you have a $600,000 retirement portfolio at age 65. If you delay making withdrawals until age 70, and your portfolio grows at an average annual rate of 8%, your portfolio will grow to $881,597. That’s an increase in your retirement portfolio size of nearly 50%, just by waiting five years.
Take good care of your health.
This is another retirement X factor – and an underestimated one of that. Healthcare becomes a more significant expense as we age, and can raise your overall cost of living in retirement. Though we normally don’t think of it as being a part of retirement planning, taking good care of your health is actually one of the most effective expense reduction strategies you can implement. But you have to do it now, while you are young and healthy. It’s much easier to retain good health, then it is to regain it after it’s been lost.
One more point about good health…many of the strategies that you can implement to keep from outliving your retirement savings will require good health.
Specific Strategies to Keep from Outliving Your Money
We’ve just covered general objectives to avoid outliving your money. Now let’s look at some micro strategies that will help you to make those happen.
Continue working while you are able.
If you are going to delay retirement, or tapping your retirement portfolio, you’ll need other income sources in order to make that happen. You should have Social Security income at a minimum, but you can supplement that by continuing to work. You may find that you are able to survive simply by adding income from a part-time job or business to your Social Security check each month.
Have a business.
Many people who are self-employed never retire. The business becomes a part of who they are, and they often enjoy the work they do. The advantage to having a business is that there is no mandatory retirement age – you can literally work in your business for long as you want. This can be an important income supplement during your retirement years. And just as significant, you may be able to sell the business for a substantial amount of money that can be used as additional retirement assets.
Develop passive income sources.
This will be especially important if you don’t have any kind of pension plan, and don’t want to actively work during your retirement years. Passive income can include investment real estate, being a silent partner in a business, or even holding a mortgage for note on which you will collect interest payments for many years.
Start a Roth IRA.
Virtually every other tax-sheltered retirement plan is subject to required minimum distributions (RMDs). When you turn 70 ½ you will be required to begin making pro rata withdrawals from all of your retirement plans. The one exception is the Roth IRA. That exception is an important one – it means that your portfolio can continue to grow for the rest of your life, without being drawn down by distributions. You can think of a Roth IRA as being something of a retirement plan of last resort. That’s the money you will have available during the later stages of your life.
Save outside your retirement plan.
One of the best ways to delay taking distributions from your retirement portfolio, is by having other assets that you can live on during the early years of retirement. Since these are not tax-sheltered plans, you’ll also have the advantage that any withdrawals taken will not be taxable. And any money that is left over when you begin withdrawing from your retirement portfolio can be used as a large emergency fund. Yes, you’ll still need one of those even when you retire.
Get out – and stay out – of debt.
This has a two-part benefit. Not only does the absence of debt keep your living expenses in retirement to a minimum, but not having any debt before retirement will make it easier to save larger amounts of money in your retirement portfolio. You should develop a plan to become debt-free as soon before retirement as possible.
Own your home free and clear.
Like taking care of your health and getting out of debt, paying off your mortgage will have a major positive impact on reducing your living expenses in retirement. This will make it easier for you to avoid taking money from your retirement portfolio during the early years of your retirement. But equally important, it will provide you with a major asset to sell to raise additional capital for your retirement. It’s a win no matter how you work it.
The possibility to outlive your retirement savings has to be taken seriously. But so do the strategies that will enable you to avoid it. Implementing just a few of these strategies should help you have plenty of money throughout your retirement.
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