What should you watch out for today in order to move forward?
You want retirement to be your chance to get out of the rat race and have time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. That’s great, but what exactly does that mean? To travel? Voluntary work? Spending time with family and friends? Open a business? Just do nothing?
You may think your plans are just like everyone else’s, but that is unlikely. You are as unique as you are.
As we will discuss, the very way you plan to spend your time definitely affects what you should be doing now to prepare for it. However, there are steps everyone should consider today, regardless of their age goals. Here are six of the most important:
1. Have a plan
If you haven’t rounded up your retirement ideas and put them together into a cohesive investment plan, this is a good place to start. Or if you have a plan in a drawer somewhere, you need to reconsider it.
Whether you want to embark on a second career, travel the world, or just don’t want to do anything will make a world of difference when it comes to what you need to cover your expenses. The better you can define exactly what your goals are and which are most important and least important, the better your plan should be.
Asset allocation – how your investments are spread across different asset classes (stocks, bonds, cash alternatives, etc.) – should be at the heart of your plan. The assignment that is most suitable for you depends on various factors. First and foremost, you want your investments to achieve (goals), how well you can handle market volatility (risk tolerance) and how long it will be before you retire (time horizon).
2. Use tax-privileged accounts
Even if you don’t have a retirement plan as such, you are likely to have savings on employer-sponsored qualified retirement plans like 401 (k) or 403 (b) plans or a traditional or Roth IRA.
If that’s the case, good for you. These tax-privileged accounts can be a great way to work towards your retirement goals, as paying taxes annually on any growth, like you would with taxable accounts, can drastically reduce the amount you end up with.
If you are participating in a QRP and your employer offers a suitable contribution, try to contribute at least as much as the match. Otherwise, leave free money on the table. If your employer doesn’t offer a QRP or you are self-employed, consider opening an IRA.
3. Clean up your accounts
Over the years, you may have amassed a number of IRAs and QRP accounts with your current and previous employers. In addition, you can have taxable investments in various full-service and online accounts. And your spouse or partner may be in a similar situation.
Having a portfolio in such parts can make it more difficult for you to meet your age goals. Take the time to figure out how many accounts you actually have and consider the potential benefits of consolidating, including helping you with:
– Understand how your wealth is allocated.
– Decide when it is time to restore balance.
– Know exactly what investments you have.
– To save time.
– Manage the names of your beneficiaries.
4. Try to stay in the market
When the market hits a big hit, you might be tempted to sell investments to get back in when things change. This practice known as market timing may sound good, but as we’ve all seen, the market can be extremely unpredictable, which makes it very difficult to succeed with this strategy.
If you exit when the market is subsiding, you could miss out on significant profits if it suddenly flips over before you get back in. And that can prove costly.
Rather than trying to time the market, try to stick with the volatility of the market in your asset allocation unless something important has happened in your life (birth, marriage, illness, divorce, etc.) that prompts you to do so made to change it.
Additionally, you should consider realigning annually by reviewing your accounts to see if market activity has moved your investments away from your desired asset allocation. If so, you may want to sell some investments and buy others to bring your accounts back into line.
5. Prepare for emergencies
Events like a sudden job loss or an unexpected home repair can quickly ruin your retirement savings. To protect you and your family, consider an emergency fund with enough cash to cover living expenses for three to six months.
These funds should be kept in a liquid but stable account such as a bank savings account so that you can access them when you need them and not have to worry about fluctuations in value.
6. Consider a consulting account
If you are unfamiliar with or interested in managing your retirement savings, consider using an advisory account.
These accounts are run by professional money managers who select investments, make buying and selling decisions, and regularly adjust the holdings in the account to maintain the asset allocation you have chosen. Instead of paying commissions on trades on an advisory account, you will be charged an administration fee based on the value of the assets in your account.
The investment involves risk, including the potential for loss of capital. Asset allocation cannot rule out the risk of fluctuating prices and uncertain returns. Diversification does not guarantee profit and does not protect against losses in declining markets.
Stocks offer long-term growth potential, but they can fluctuate more and generate less ongoing income than other investments. An investment on the stock exchange should be made considering the risks associated with common stocks, including market fluctuations.
Wells Fargo Advisors does not provide tax or legal advice.
This article was written by / for Wells Fargo Advisors and is courtesy of Alonso Martinez. Financial advisor in Valdosta at (229) 259-7844.
Investments in securities and insurance products are: Not FDIC insured / not bank guaranteed / may lose value.
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