Having your assets liquid may feel good because it’s accessible. But at the same time, let’s consider the big, longevity picture. We American’s are all living longer than ever. And when it comes to generating income during retirement, having your assets liquid at all times may actually increase the risk of your assets not lasting for your lifetime.
Your Retirement Mango Tree
Think of all of your assets as one mango tree with branches (your principal) producing enough mangos (income) you need to live comfortably during retirement. In the beginning, you may think there’s no harm chopping off a branch or two (liquidity) for firewood due to the overall size of the tree. But, when doing this you are “double counting” the asset for being equal to meeting two needs. The number of mangos produced would be lower and if you keep chopping off branches, there may come a point when your tree cannot produce enough mangos and cannot grow new branches, ultimately reducing the life of your tree. No more tree, no more mangos.
There are many decisions you will need to make in your life as you enter into retirement. One of the many financial decisions is what to do with the assets you had accumulated for retirement. Your paycheck is ending. It’s up to you to make a new one to last for your lifetime with your assets.
Retirement at Risk
After the market crash of 2008, percentage of American households who are “at risk” at age 65 increased to 51% (2009) from 43% (2004) according to the National Retirement Risk Index.1
Now, think of your assets as being multiple mango trees…
You fence off and give up your access (liquidity) to some trees so that these trees are only there to produce enough mangos to cover your necessary expenses. The remaining trees are for producing mangos and firewood for when you need it.
Under this approach, you have established sources for solely producing income and you also have sources for your liquidity needs.
Create one mango tree or multiple mango trees?
Your view about retirement should be long-term because it is unknown as to how long your retirement years will be; therefore, you should explore financial products that can provide income for your lifetime and that of your spouse’s lifetime. One of the main reasons that you save for retirement is to produce income (mangos) for your necessary expenditures, like paying your mortgage/rent, food and utilities, so you can live comfortably during these years. In addition, a portion of your income should be independent from and not reliant on market performance. Finishing confident is just as important as beginning confident.
Earlier the Better: Create Your Plan Today
Here are some action steps you can take today to better prepare for retirement:
- Understand how your lifetime sources of income work, like Social Security, and explore possible ways to increase these sources.
- Compare your retirement income with the total amount of your expenses — necessary expenses and comfort-living expenses — to see if you have a retirement income gap.
- Purchase financial products that can provide guaranteed payments for life or for the life of the surviving spouse, and that can provide protection for unexpected events.
- Follow a distribution/withdrawal plan by accessing pools of assets at certain points in time during retirement. This can help you lengthen the life of your assets, gain the potential benefit of compounding growth and systematically increase your retirement income when you need it most.
- Work with a financial professional to fully explore your options for developing your income plan for retirement.
1The National Retirement Risk Index measures the amount of American households who are at risk of not being able to support their pre-retirement lifestyle during retirement. This index is calculated by The Center of Retirement Research at Boston College and the report can be found at http://www.crr.bc.edu®
Annuities have always been a desirable retirement vehicle. Because of the ever-present fear of outliving their money, retirees have turned to annuities because of their promise to provide “an income that you cannot outlive.” However, annuities have many other benefits than just providing an income for life. Let’s review some of these benefits.