Dodging a Market Dip on the Way to Retirement

An article in The New York Times addresses the vulnerability investors nearing retirement can feel during times of market turbulence.

The article lists some suggested strategies to reduce the negative impact of a potential market downturn:

Check your portfolio allocations: Retirees should ask themselves, “Is my allocation to stocks one that my stomach can handle should the market plummet 50 percent?” If not, the article argues, it might be time to think about reducing exposure to equities.

Spend mindfully: Retirees should adhere to the 4 percent rule, which suggests withdrawing up to 4 percent of their initial retirement portfolio balance, with the dollar amount adjusted for inflation each year thereafter. But holding spending steady, with no uptick to track inflation, could insulate a portfolio from as much as a 25 percent drop from its original value at retirement, according to T. Rowe Price senior financial planner Judith Ward.

Smooth out the ride by reducing stock exposure as retirement approaches, then getting back into the market as you age. Another option, the article suggests, is to purchase an annuity with a portion of your savings so you have a “guaranteed paycheck” (adding a warning that these can be complex and should be purchased only from a fiduciary).

Hold a cash reserve: Keep up to two years of basic living expenses in cash, but be wary of holding too much cash since it can weaken overall returns.

Delay Social Security for as long as possible. David Blanchett, head of retirement research for Morningstar, says, “The effective return of delaying Social Security is much higher than you will earn in the market today. It is like a 10 percent guaranteed return.”

Get help, by finding a certified financial planner to guide you.