Investing in your 60s is a time of transition. No longer are you focused on growing your retirement funds. Now, it’s time to crack into that nest egg.
So, you need to change your investment strategy. The idea is to withdraw enough to help you get by while holding enough in reserve to finance the rest of your life.
Here are 11 pointers:
1. Estimate how long your savings must last
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You can’t plan effectively without an idea of how long your money should last.
Of course you can’t know how long you’ll live, so we’re talking about estimating the longest you might live, so you won’t run out of money too soon.
A 65-year-old woman can expect to live to nearly 87, and a man who is that age can anticipate living until 84, says the Social Security Administration, whose Life Expectancy Calculator gives a rough idea of expected lifespans.
2. Calculate annual expenses
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To plan your finances in retirement, you’ll need specific spending data, not estimates. If you budget and have tracked your spending, you’ve got the data you need. If not, start now.
Automatic tracking is simple with tools like those provided by Money Talks News’ partner You Need a Budget. But a notebook or spreadsheet also will do — as long as you keep it up.
After tracking for a few months, you’ll begin to see where your money’s going and can decide how much to withdraw from investments.
3. Fully fund emergency savings
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Keeping a cushion of savings in cash or short-term CDs lets you ride out market downturns without selling stocks at low valuations. Some experts advise having a big enough emergency fund to support yourself for 18 months to two years.
4. Plan your withdrawals
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Retirees need a system for regular cash withdrawals. For example, one popular system suggests withdrawing 4% of your initial savings balance each year, then adjusting that amount annually for inflation.
The 4% rule is not ironclad, but it does provide a framework. The key is to adopt a system, then adjust it as necessary.
5. Seek safety
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How much you keep in CDs, bonds and high-yield savings accounts depends somewhat on how much safety you require. Intelligent risk is necessary with part of your investments if you don’t want inflation to erode your portfolio’s value.
Many retirees follow this rule of thumb (called the “glide-path” rule):
- Subtract your age from 100. The resulting number is the percentage of your investments you should hold in stocks.
- Invest the remaining amount in bonds and money market funds.
If you’re 70, for example, keep 30% of your portfolio in stocks — including mutual funds and ETFs — and the remaining 70% in bonds.
Does this rule provide enough growth to keep a portfolio going strong? Experts disagree.
6. Don’t neglect growth
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The other end of the retirement seesaw is the need to grow your nest egg, at least a little.
Unless you have so much money that you don’t need to worry about inflation, you’ll need some growth investments. Usually, that means individual stocks, mutual funds and/or ETFs.
Learn more about investing in “10 Tips for Sane, Successful Stock Investing.”
7. Plan for required minimum distributions
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After age 70 ½, the Internal Revenue Service requires savers to begin taking minimum annual withdrawals from some tax-deferred accounts, such as traditional IRAs and 401(k)s.
These minimum withdrawal amounts are calculated by the IRS based on life expectancy and account balances. The IRS rules are specific and inflexible about how much to withdraw and when. Ignore them, and you could face stiff IRS penalties.