I am a 62 year old single man and have never had a retirement account. I own my home and a rental property that are paid off and I have no other debt. I have $100,000 in savings that I would like to invest for retirement. At my current job I’m saving $10,000 a month so hopefully I’ll be able to add to my retirement funds significantly, but I’m a contractor working overseas in a volatile industry so I don’t there’s no guarantee how much I’ll be able to add in the months or years ahead.
After much research, I have selected a Schwab Robo Advisor account, but have not yet had the required meeting with their financial planner or committed the funds. Based on my age, I expect a maximum of 10 years before I need to access these funds, but even that is not guaranteed and I may need to withdraw money sooner. I am nervous about the markets and our world in general and about my relatively short-term (10-year) outlook over which I will be able to grow my nest egg. Are there better alternatives such as high yield savings accounts, CDs or specific Treasuries that I should consider instead?
Very little. Too late.
View: I’ll be 65 soon, have $320,000 in retirement savings and a paid-off house, but I’m $46,000 in debt – should I be taking more money out of my investments?
I’ll start with some good news – it’s not too late.
Many Americans go without a retirement account, so you’re certainly not alone. It’s good that you’re looking to change it now, and you still have time.
Honestly, you’ll have to be a little aggressive with your current cash flow. The ability to save $10,000 a month is what many Americans desire, so take advantage of this great opportunity. You have your own home and a rental property paid off and with no debt, you should be able to keep a lot of that income in investment and savings accounts.
“Just from a savings perspective, he has a really good chance of building a retirement that will work for him,” said Byrke Sestok, a certified financial planner and president of Rightirement Wealth Partners.
I would suggest – and this isn’t so much about retirement as just general good personal finance practice – that you set up an emergency savings account with six months’ worth of living expenses if you don’t already have one. The unexpected is just that – the unexpected – and that’s especially true if you’re working in a “volatile” industry, as you said.
Beyond that, let’s dig into some things you can do now to strengthen your retirement security.
A robo-advisor is a great first step to investing, and if you have all your other finances, you may not be interested in working with an advisor. A human financial planner is able to talk you through investment choices, help you keep your emotions in check about stock market volatility, and remind you of considerations you might not have thought about for yourself. But if you just want to get started right away and not waste any more time, an online platform like a robo-advisor does the trick. You just have to be very diligent.
If you decide to work with a financial advisor, vet the professional – check their certifications and ask about their fees, which can be hourly or a percentage of your assets. Also make sure they are working in your best interest, so ask them if they follow the trust standard. Here are some other questions you can ask.
When creating an account, regardless of which service you choose, be sure to think carefully and consider the timeframe, your risk tolerance (that’s how much risk you’re willing to take on with your investments) and your risk capacity (that’s how much you risk need to undertake the achievement of certain investment goals. Many services provide you with a suggested portfolio and it can end up being weighted more toward conservative or aggressive investment choices depending on the information you provide.
A quick note about your timeline. You mentioned that you wait a maximum of 10 years before using these assets, but as you said, that is not guaranteed. Keep this in mind when dividing up your assets. You may want to work with a human advisor, or talk to an investment firm, about creating “buckets” instead of one giant portfolio. That way you can allocate a portion of your investments aggressively – this would be the long-term bucket – and a portion of your nest egg be allocated more conservatively – this bucket would be if you need the money faster.
Read: Is the bucket strategy superior to the 4% rule?
This is where the emergency savings account, which can be your third bucket, also plays an important role. When the stock market is rising, it is better not to touch the investments so that any losses have time to recover. If you have money, you are letting those assets grow without causing any potential harm to future returns.
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There’s no magic number for how much a person needs in retirement, so you may feel stuck in choosing a goal when you’re browsing the data on a robo-advisor’s site. Instead, you can choose to enter what you plan to contribute each month and it will generate some possible results based on that information and potential rates of return.
However, if you are trying to make a goal, consider absolutely every possible financial factor. Think about what income you will have, such as this wallet, a pension, any Social Security benefits, a side job, and so on. Also think about every expense you can imagine…maintenance for your home or rent, taxes, health care, any big ticket goals like a vacation or boat, family obligations or charitable donations you want to leave behind and beyond. Don’t forget long-term care planning, which is completely separate from your day-to-day medical expenses and can be quite costly. “The simple fact is that as we age we have more medical bills and these are things that cannot be ignored,” Sestok said.
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You’re also living overseas now – you’ll probably need to research what your lifestyle will look like if you plan to return to the US or stay abroad. If you can think of it, list it and plan for it. Here is a calculator to help you get the mindset for this task.
I will end with this. I know you mentioned that you’re worried about putting your nest egg into the markets given the current economic environment, and that’s totally valid. Investing can be scary. You’re likely to see a higher return in a decade with an investment account than a savings account, Sestok said, but you also need to be able to sleep at night, which is why you might want to talk to a professional about balancing your risk. tolerance with your risk capacity when building a portfolio. The last thing you want is for your feelings to get in the way of your retirement security.
“The number one thing with investing is that your emotions don’t play a role,” Sestok said. “It’s also the number one challenge.”
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