Revisiting your retirement plans


You've been doing all the right things to get ready for retirement: building up your nest egg, contributing to your 401(k), and sticking to a plan that you or your financial professional set up years ago. And, you assume, your money's been growing according to plan. But does that plan still work for you and what you want your retirement to be?

"There is an important balance in managing your investable elements," says Chris White, CFA, author of Working With the Emotional Investor: Financial Psychology for Wealth Managers. He likens your retirement plan to a garden. You can overweed it if you pay too much attention, but if you ignore it for too long, the plants won't grow well.

Here are five reasons you may want to check in on the growth of your retirement plan — and consider revising it.

  1. You set your plan assuming a 7 percent return.
    While that 7 percent number has been a rule of thumb for years, White says that you may want to ratchet it down to 6 percent to be safe—especially as past performance of assets may have been under 7 percent.
  2. You haven't adequately considered health care cost inflation.
    "Health care may be your biggest expense, and you want to be sure that you can stay even with costs as they rise," says White. Check to see if what you calculated for health care costs when you first created your plan matches the current projections for health care and medical costs.
  3. Your asset allocation hasn't changed as you approach retirement age.
    Many advisors say that your assets should become less risky as you get closer to needing liquid assets in retirement. But you need to make sure that your assets continue to grow even in retirement. Not doing so means that you are taking on what is called longevity risk, when you may outlive your assets. Keep a healthy allocation to stocks to help you stay ahead of inflation, especially health care inflation.
  4. You haven't checked it in years. 
    Don't let your retirement portfolio go for five or 10 years without looking at it and checking its asset allocation. An annual check-up is wise. If you revisit your plan annually and find that your original calculations are falling short, White says that you still have time to put money away and get back on track. He suggests reviewing your current spending needs and trying to put away more money than you are currently saving. He also suggests making sure that you put that money in the right place, like maxing out on your 401(k) contributions, especially if your company offers a match.
  5. Your vision of retirement has changed.
    When you first created your retirement plan were you focused on travel? But now that you have grandkids you are focused on spending time with family? Time and life experiences can change perspective — and that’s only normal. Create a plan for happiness. Get in tune with your future self by thinking about what you want to do in the short and long term of your retirement years. Take this quiz to discover what kind of lifestyle will bring you joy in retirement.

This information is brought to you by Athene — where unconventional thinking brings innovative annuity solutions that can help make your retirement dreams a reality.

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