Deciding between stocks and bonds has long been a complicated issue for investors young and old. The biggest question for those who are officially in retirement is whether they should go with high- or low-risk tolerance?
The key is to consider your goals first and foremost or you’re most likely to miss your target, and no one wants to run out of money in retirement. A recent article by USA Today broke down four factors to consider when deciding on stocks and bonds so you can have the best retirement possible.
Per USA Today:
Lengthen Time Horizon
Whatever your situation, your savings likely must last a long while – at least for your own lifetime, which is probably longer than you think! If you’re retiring now, for example, odds are you’ll see your mid-80s at least. Younger folks have a high chance of passing 90.
My advice is to tack several years onto whatever your personal life estimate is, just in case. Averages aren’t predictive. No one wants to be impoverished late in life because they didn’t think they would be here.
Set Your Big Goals
Then, discern your main goals. Start by jotting down what your retirement money must accomplish for you. Provide for daily needs? Fund some jet-setting? Weddings and college tuition for kids or grandkids? Support late-life medical care?
From my experience watching thousands of clients over decades, these objectives usually add up to one of three big goals: Long-term growth, ongoing cash flow or some combo or the two. Even if your objectives are all cash-flow oriented, you probably still need some growth.
Why? Inflation! Since 1925, inflation has averaged about 3 percent annually, eating purchasing power. That’s annoying.
If it remains at that level in the long run, someone who needs $50,000 for annual living expenses now would need around $90,000 in 20 years and $120,000 in 30 years. If you stashed a cool million bucks under your mattress now, in 30 years it would only have the purchasing power of $400,000 today.
And that’s just an overall average. Total inflation doesn’t measure personal costs of living. Hospital service costs, for example, have jumped 314 percent since 1989. Medical care and drug costs have soared over 150 percent. Your money doesn’t just need to support you longer than you think, it probably needs to be able to purchase much more than you expect.
Long-term Retirement Growth
For most folks, even those who are retired, the solution is some bigger chunk of stocks for far longer than they thought – which is how you get long-term growth. Over long stretches – 20, 30 years or more – stocks usually do far better than other liquid alternatives like bonds. While there are more ups and downs along the way, the long-term growth of stocks can ensure your golden years aren’t pyrite.
Depending on your personal situation, you will eventually need bonds too – not for income, since you will be slowly using your principle, but to help smooth the bumps and support your cash flow.
Most folks I see err most by putting too little in stocks, so fire up your account and see if it really matches your needs.