Table of Contents
The Importance of Planning for Retirement
For individuals and couples most concerned with their future, intelligent retirement planning is key to confidence in meeting your financial goals—especially in the face of economic uncertainty.
Whether you’re 15 or 50 years into your career, it’s never too early to start planning for retirement. When preparing your retirement strategy, consider the following:
- Have you considered or written down your financial goals? This is where it all begins.
- Do you know the expected return of your assets?
- Are you taking too little or too much risk?
- Do you find yourself neglecting tax diversification?
- Are you taking advantage of benefits like stop-loss guarantees, tax-free withdrawals, and flexible withdrawals?
It’s one of the most crucial financial plans you’ll make in your life, and it is an ongoing process. If done thoughtfully, you can be confident that you’ll have a comfortable, secure, and fun retirement. If done in an incomplete or inefficient way, it can cause problems that will create stress and hamper your quality of life down the line.
That’s why so many clients come to us for retirement planning services.
We understand that you want a secure retirement. In our Retirement Planning Guide, you’ll find the most important questions to ask when planning your retirement—so you can be as prepared as possible.
- What are your retirement goals?
- What are your retirement income needs?
- How much risk are you willing to take to meet your financial objectives?
- Do you have the right investment time horizon?
- How will withdrawals and inflation affect your portfolio?
- What investment strategies will set you up for success?
Let’s dive right in.
DOWNLOAD OUR FREE PDF GUIDE
The 6 Steps To A Successful Retirement
What are your retirement goals?
The first step to retirement planning is setting your sights on your big-picture goals. From a broader financial perspective, you can design your retirement plan around a combination of these categories:
- Avoid running out of money. This is a universal retirement goal—as well as the number one retirement fear. The vast majority of retirees want to ensure that they can live well while funding their own retirement until the end.
- Maintain or improve lifestyle. You’ve worked hard, saved your money, and now you’re ready to enjoy the fruits of a long and productive career. We understand that it’s your goal to maintain, or better yet, improve, your retirement lifestyle.
- Increase wealth. If you’ve invested well throughout your career, chances are, you’re able to continue a healthy return on all your investments. This is typically for your legacy, whether it’ll go toward your children, grandchildren, or charity.
We take your current financial situation and your future retirement goals into consideration when creating a customized retirement plan. Our retirement advisors are dedicated to regularly making sure that your portfolio continues to align with your evolving priorities. We’re serious about providing you the reliable support and transparency that you need to have the confidence in the solidity of your retirement strategy.
What are your retirement income needs?
The next step to retirement planning is figuring out your post-retirement spending plan. It’s vital to be realistic and thorough when estimating how you plan to spend your money. Once you’ve outlined your retirement spending strategy, you can start to define the required size of a retirement portfolio.
When planning for retirement, it’s crucial to consider all possible outlays that can easily be overlooked or underestimated, such as:
- Whether your mortgage is paid off
- Whether you want to buy a second home
- Whether you want to fund your children’s or grandchildren’s education after retirement
- Whether you want to help your children buy their first home
- Unforeseen healthcare expenses
- Travel, golf, and hobby expenditures
Making these considerations will help you forecast whether more spending in the future requires additional savings today.
How much risk are you willing to take to meet your objectives?
Your retirement strategy is framed by the time between your current age and your expected retirement age. The more time you have between today and your expected retirement, the higher the level of risk your investment portfolio can withstand.
If you’re in your 30s, you can tolerate more risk and have ample time to plan for retirement. As such, you should have the majority of your assets in high-risk high-reward investments, such as stocks. Though stocks are more volatile, they have historically outperformed other securities, such as bonds, over the course of multiple decades. It’s wise to focus on returns that outpace inflation so that you can maintain your lifestyle during retirement.
As you move closer toward retirement age, your investment strategy will begin to transition toward income and the preservation of capital. You might begin shifting toward a higher allocation in lower-risk and less volatile securities, such as bonds. You have less time to recover from any losses, and your financial goal has transitioned to maintaining a comfortable income to live on past your working years.
Your wealth manager can help you create a multi-stage retirement plan. By breaking up your retirement into different periods, you can integrate various time horizons and their corresponding liquidity needs, and rebalance as needed to optimize your allocation strategy.
Do you have the right investment time horizon?
Your investment time horizon is an estimation of how long your assets need to last. This is commonly based on your life expectancy, but you also need to account for dependents, such as a younger partner.
Source: Social Security Administration, Period Life Table (2018)
This graph illustrates your probability of living to a specific age if you’re 65 years old today. It’s wise to factor in the longest realistic time horizon that you’re likely to face. As time progresses, it’ll become increasingly difficult to make up for poor retirement planning.
How will withdrawals and inflation impact your portfolio?
Your investment time horizon will be affected by two costs:
- Distributions, or the money that you withdraw from your portfolio to pay for things
It’s easy to underestimate the impact of distributions and inflation. Distributions can affect the long-term revenue potential of your investments. Inflation can erode the value of your investments, especially if your portfolio is heavily weighted toward fixed-income products like bonds. If not properly accounted for, distributions and inflation can decrease your purchasing power over time.
At Prosperity Financial Group, we understand that distributions and inflation can eat away at investment returns. That’s why positive total returns aren’t the only thing we consider when building your diversified portfolio—we also make sure your investments keep pace with inflation.
What investment strategies will set you up for success?
No one is immune from the anxiety of retirement planning—not even high net worth individuals. To fund a comfortable retirement, a successful investment strategy balances risk and returns. After you exit employment, you will depend entirely on your savings and investments, unless you have income-generating real estate or other passive assets.
Asset allocation, or the strategic division of your investments among different asset classes (think: stocks, bonds, real estate, cash, cash alternatives), is the biggest determining factor in the kind of portfolio returns that you’ll see. Asset allocation is a risk-control measure; by diversifying your investment portfolio, you have more options for maximizing returns and minimizing risk.
There is no one-size-fits-all recommendation when it comes to asset allocation. Different investors have different retirement plans, risk tolerances, investing styles, and financial goals.
When choosing your mix of stocks, bonds, cash, and other securities, our Wealth Advisors balance your current financial circumstances, your portfolio’s ability to withstand risk, and your return needs. We analyze each unique financial picture and provide a tailored solution that has the highest probability of reaching your goals.
It’s important to note that bear markets are a regular part of our investment history, and in retirement, a bear market can be devastating. When you’re drawing income from your assets, it’s incredibly tough to come back from a major downturn. Even when the market recovers, you aren’t necessarily in a position to take advantage because you aren’t contributing anymore.
That’s why it’s a good idea to diversify your retirement assets with retirement accounts, annuities, and life insurance.
You’ve heard it before: max out any employer-sponsored retirement plans, at least up to the company match. Your retirement funds grow tax-free, and since you fund these accounts directly from your paycheck before the IRS takes their portion, contributing toward a 401(k) effectively reduces your taxable income.
When we meet with you one-on-one, we’ll discuss your investment knowledge and comfort level with choosing investments. Our firm offers 401(k) investing support for all levels of investing experience, and we provide fiduciary advice based on your goals. If you’ve accumulated several 401(k) accounts over the course of your career, we can help you roll your investments into an IRA and invest your money on your behalf. Our Wealth Advisors will provide guidance based on future income needs, unique financial conditions, and long-term trends to empower you to make better investment decisions.
Annuities are long-term investments issued by an insurance company. They’re designed to help protect you from the risk of outliving your income.
Annuities can be enhanced by riders. A rider is an enrichment that allows your financial advisor to tailor your contract to suit your financial requirements, your comfort with risks, and even your medical conditions. Many riders are designed to offset some of the disadvantages you may see in owning an annuity.
Annuities and riders are designed to help protect what’s most important to you. For example, what happens if you’re no longer working, it’s a bear market, and your investments aren’t doing as well as you had hoped? Through lifetime income riders and/or annuitization, you can minimize your total risk exposure with periodic payments that can last for life.
Life insurance can be a powerful addition to that foundation that is your financial plan. It provides financial protection for your family. Everyone should have it, especially if you have kids. Insufficient insurance coverage exposes you to greater financial risk which can quickly lay waste to a large amount of accumulated wealth.
Term life insurance guarantees the payment of a death benefit if the covered person dies during a specified term. Policies can last from five to 30 years. They’re often a more simple option, and are more affordable than permanent life insurance.
However, if you’d prefer lifelong protection and cash value that most permanent life insurance products offer, consider permanent life insurance.
Both policies can be useful for estate planning purposes; for instance, you can leave money to your heirs or to charity. With the right life insurance strategy, you can safeguard the things you care about, while creating opportunities for your wealth to go further for the causes and people who mean the most.
Your Social Security retirement benefit is based on your average earnings over your working career. In addition, your age at the time you start receiving Social Security benefits also affects your benefit amount.
The Social Security Administration has increased the age at which full retirement benefits become available: if you were born between 1943 and 1954, your full retirement age is 66. Full retirement age increases in two-month increments thereafter, until it reaches age 67 for anyone born in 1960 or later.
Unlike most sources of retirement income, Social Security benefits are adjusted periodically for inflation.
With the right mix of asset allocation, retirement accounts, and annuities, you’ll be able to finance the retirement of your dreams. If you can postpone your first payment up to age 70, you’ll enjoy the full benefits that are as much as 8 percent higher.
How can I minimize the retirement tax hit?
As a retiree, you will likely rely on a few different sources of income; most commonly, these are Social Security benefits, distributions from IRAs and retirement plans, and funds from savings and other investments. Unfortunately, you’ll still continue to pay taxes in retirement. Luckily, there are ways to minimize what Uncle Sam takes from you in your golden years.
- Establish residency in a tax-friendly state. Alaska, Washington, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nevada, Texas, and Florida levy no personal income tax. New Hampshire and Tennessee don’t tax wages, only interest and dividends, but both are set to eliminate those taxes soon. Moreover, states are federally prohibited from taxing residents on retirement benefits earned in a different state. For instance, earning a pension in California or New York and relocating in retirement to Florida or Texas avoids state tax on this income.
- Avoid or postpone RMDs. If you are at least 72, you aren’t required to pay taxes on required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your IRAs and other retirement accounts if you transfer the funds to a charity. Your IRA trustee or custodian must transfer the funds directly to an IRS-approved public charity, and you must receive written acknowledgment from the charity for your contribution. There is a $100,000 annual limit per individual. If you are married, each spouse has a separate $100,000 limit.
- We help you plan ahead for RMDs from IRAs and other retirement accounts, Social Security, and Roth IRA conversions. We find you the best combination of taxable and tax-advantaged income streams taking into account the tax disparity between capital gains and qualified dividends, regular income and tax-free accounts.
- Deferred annuities. You can postpone the need to take RMDs by investing in a special deferred annuity. You can use up to $135,000, but no more than 25% of your account balance, from your IRA or 401(k) to buy a qualified longevity annuity contract (QLAC) within the retirement account. Funds allocated to the QLAC are exempt from RMD calculations.
- Delay Social Security benefits. If you delay the receipt of benefits until age 70, you’ll earn additional credits to boost your monthly benefits at that time. The benefits are either fully tax-free or are included in your gross income at 50% or 85%, depending on your other income.
- Don’t forget the estate tax. Consider our estate tax planning services to help you avoid the 40% tax rate that applies to taxable estates. By being mindful of the estate tax and structuring your gifts and bequests in a tax-efficient way, you’ll enjoy the largest amount possible to spend toward making your retired years the most memorable time of your life.
We Can Help
You have your ideal retirement vision in mind, and we’re here to help you get there. We’ll do in-depth research and analysis to help inform the strategies that we’ll put into place to get you the life that you want:
- Budgeting and cash flow forecasting well into your 90s
- Which assets to tap and when for income, tax-efficiency
- Investment risk and return targets that reflect your needs
- An estate plan that provides for your loved ones and establishes your legacy
- If you have a business – a succession plan that works for all involved
Tracking your progress is essential to success, so it’s key to monitor your wealth plan with us regularly. As life ebbs and flows, we can make the tactical moves and update your plan to match your goals and priorities along the way.
Proper planning is a huge factor in achieving your desired retirement lifestyle after years of working and saving. It isn’t just about building a portfolio—it’s about securing a happy and comfortable future.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about Prosperity Financial Group, please fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you shortly. We look forward to hearing from you.
DISCLAIMER: Advisory Services offered through Prosperity Financial Group, Inc., an Independent Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through Fortune Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Prosperity Financial Group, Inc. and Fortune Financial Services, Inc. are separate entities.