How To Survive The Financial Roller Coaster In An Uncertain Market
SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah — Retirement planning can feel like a shot in the dark because no one can predict the rise and fall of the stock market. If you’re close to retirement, those drops can hit your portfolio particularly hard.
Recent wild swings have underlined that uncertainty.
At one point last month, the stock market was on track to have one of the worst Decembers since the Great Depression. This month, the news has been much better with stocks climbing back into positive territory. Those ups-and-downs have some who are set to retire soon spooked.
“Last summer, I did five trips. And this summer, I’m not going to plan so many trips,” said Kim Stucki, who plans to retire in a few months.
She’s not so much worried as she is careful about her retirement planning, as she factors in those market swings.
“Don’t panic” is a chorus you’ll often hear from financial experts who advise you take the emotion out of investing, which will cause you to react less.
“It was really difficult emotionally for people to stay invested in a plan and keep on track when you experience a downturn like we had in December, which was the worst we’ve had in many years,” advised Sharla Jessop, president of Smedley Financial in Salt Lake City.
If you are being kept up at night by the drops you’re seeing in your 401(k), Jessop suggests you try and “adopt a different strategy emotionally for dealing with that.”
“People will drive across town to save a few dollars on groceries or clothes or something like that. But when the market goes on sale, they want to flee,” said Jessop.
Don’t get out of the market when it’s down. Instead, if you are getting ready to retire, are retired or are a few decades away, here are some things you can do right now to protect yourself and your portfolio, according to Jessop:
20 years from retirement
• Take full advantage of your company match.
• Increase your contribution each year by a percentage point until you reach the maximum.
• Be aggressive in your investing, but diversify – don’t chase returns.
• Avoid borrowing from your 401(k) or retirement accounts.
• Maximize your retirement contribution. If you’re over 50, that can be up to $25,000 in contributions.
• Your investment strategy should remain aggressive.
• Design a retirement plan with professional help from a certified financial planner.
• Investment strategies should remain long-term.
• You should have a plan that is monitored and adjusted as your needs and goals are changing.
• Focus on getting out of debt.
• Manage the emotional side of investing.
• Keep a long-term perspective. You need to stay invested but with a more balanced approach.
• Create an income plan that outlines how your assets will be used to provide income during your retirement years. Your plan should be the guide in determining your risk level (i.e. inflation, longevity, sequence of return, expenses, long-term care).
“When we’re younger, we don’t think we’re going to ever be 65. You know, 65 seems like a long ways away,” said Debbie Osoro, who has been retired nearly five years. She says let that be a lesson to anyone who doesn’t think the day will come when they will retire.
With luck, we all will reach our golden years. Good retirement planning will enrich those years.
“You’ll need every penny that you save,” said Jessop.
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