Retirement worries got you down? You're not alone. Our retirement plan advisors often field questions from pre-retirees who aren't sure about the planning process.
But leaving your retirement up to chance isn't a feasible option -- not to mention the havoc this uncertainty can wreak on your peace of mind.
Rather, consider the power of intention. While it may be simpler to go through life "falling into" things -- like a career path, relationships, and even investments -- when it comes to retirement planning, a little bit of intention can go a long way toward helping you secure a comfortable future. Here's how to use intention to align your retirement and wealth planning goals.
Strategic Financial Planning: Set Clear Goals
Setting goals for your retirement -- and your comprehensive financial plan, for that matter -- is a lot like writing a job description. In other words, you want to create a clear and detailed picture of your specific financial goals at each stage of your life.
For instance, if you're in your 30s, you probably don't care too much about the ups and downs in your portfolio over the short-term. After all, you know you have time to make up the difference. If you are bothered by volatility, you may want to research why timing the market isn't an effective investment strategy. At this point, your goal should be focused on setting a financial strategy that gains you the highest returns over the next three decades.
Now say you're in your mid-60s and you want to retire within the next two years. You're planning on withdrawing $50,000 worth of investments; do you need to be concerned about market volatility? Yes; you won't want to sell $50,000 worth of stock after a major correction. At this point in your investment lifespan, your goal is to ensure that you can meet your cash flow needs, regardless of the market. Your wealth advisor can help you determine your financial goals and how you can plan to meet them.
Evaluate Your Financial Strategies to Find Effective Solutions
Now that you have your goals, it's time to determine the specific financial strategies that will help you meet them. Often, simple is better.
In most cases, low-cost funds are a savvy choice. However, many investors are drawn by the allure of complicated, exotic or "glamorous" investment products -- like hedge funds, precious metals or options writing -- with high turnover and high fees. In reality, financial strategies based on a long-term, passive approach tend to prove more effective than an active approach based on timing the market.
The same goes for your 401k; where you may want to consider target-date retirement or model funds. Of course, you'll want to work with your wealth advisor to determine which specific tweaks will help you mitigate your tax burden.
Your Comprehensive Financial Plan: Include a Transition Plan
With your goals and solutions complete, it's time to create a transition plan. A transition plan helps you avoid the potential tax consequences that may come with major shifts in your investment strategies; your plan will delineate your:
- Tax consequences
- Asset allocation
- Level of risk
- Penalties and fees
Outlining these factors will allow you to develop financial strategies to minimize your tax burden, achieve diversification through asset allocation, and reduce penalties and fees. The key? The closer you are to retirement, the more intentional you need to be in your planning process.
Remember: Your money has a job to do for you in retirement -- and drawing up a job description can help it to do its job well.