Enter the characters you see below Sorry, we just need to make sure you’re not a robot. A link has been sent to your friend’s email address. A link has been posted to your How Do I Invest My Money Wisely feed. Fidelity Vice President John Sweeney says people are often too conservative with their investments for retirement. Financial advisers often encourage people to save aggressively for retirement and invest in stocks for the long term, but many people struggle with retirement saving and investing.
USA TODAY asked Fidelity Investments executive vice president John Sweeney for his insights on this topic. Q: What is the biggest retirement investment mistake people make? A: Being too conservative with their portfolio. People think, “I’ve accumulated this much,” and their inclination is to put it in stable investments — cash or bonds, but they run the risk of eroding their purchasing power. Q: What if you have been reluctant to invest in the stock market since the Great Recession? A: Some people are concerned about the volatility of the equity market.
They have seen the ugly performance of ’08 and ’09, but since May of ’09, we have had five very positive years. You have to look at the equity market over the long term. You should be less focused on the one-year numbers and the quarterly numbers. People may have been burned in ’07, ’08 and ’09, and they don’t know what to do now. Others may have put cash on the sidelines and are wondering if it is time to get back in now or should they wait for some pullback. If you are five to 10 years from retirement, that’s a long period of time over which your portfolio can grow so you should be thinking about an equity portfolio that will outpace inflation. Your other choices are cash, money markets, bonds. In today’s environment, bonds are not allowing your portfolio to grow at a rate that exceeds inflation.
Equities are higher risk but have higher expected returns and a growth that exceeds inflation. If you have a sum of money and are worried about investing it all today, take portions of it and invest it over a period of time so you are getting an average rate, buying more shares when they are less expensive and fewer shares when prices rise. You could invest it each month for the next six months or invest one quarter of it every month for four months. Q: What investment advice do you have for retirees? A: Retirement investment doesn’t end at age 65. You should be planning for a retirement that could last into your early 90s. About half of your portfolio should be designed to grow and outpace inflation.
The remainder is in fixed income and some short-term instruments like conservative-income funds and money-market funds. Q: What percentage of Americans are going to be able retire comfortably? Americans are in fair or poor condition when it comes to being able to completely cover essential living expenses in retirement, including housing, health care and food. Many current retirees have figured out how to survive in retirement.
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They are more likely to have a pension than the younger investors. Q: How much will most people need to live comfortably in retirement? Everybody’s situation is going to be a little different. People often underestimate how long they are going to live.
A quarter of us will live into our early 90s, so we are really planning for a retirement that could last 30 years. Fidelity offers this rule of thumb: Save at least eight times your final salary to help increase the odds that you won’t outlive your savings during 30 years in retirement. This amount assumes that you’ll get some money from Social Security and that your expenses after you retire will be lower than when you were working. Higher net-worth folks usually need to save more than eight times their final salary. Q: How much should people be saving for retirement? While that may seem like a daunting amount, if you set it up early, you can learn to live on the amount that’s left. You are saving money because you are paying taxes on the lower income level.
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Investing is one of the best ways for anyone to create wealth and become financially independent. A strategy of investing small amounts continuously can eventually result in what is referred to as the snowball effect, in which small amounts gain in size and momentum and ultimately lead to exponential growth. To accomplish this feat, you must implement a proper strategy and stay patient, disciplined, and diligent. Ensure investing is right for you. Investing in the stock market involves risk, and this includes the risk of permanently losing money.
Before investing, always ensure you have your basic financial needs taken care of in the event of a job loss or catastrophic event. Make sure you have 3 to 6 months of your income readily available in a savings account. Ensure your insurance needs are met. Before allocating a portion of your monthly income to investing, make sure you own proper insurance on your assets, as well as on your health.
Remember to never depend on investment money to cover any catastrophic event, as investments do fluctuate over time. By having proper savings and insurance, your basic needs are always covered regardless of stock market volatility. Choose the appropriate type of account. Depending on your investment needs, there are several different types of accounts you may want to consider opening. Each of these accounts represents a vehicle in which to hold your investments. A taxable account refers to an account in which all investment income earned within the account is taxed in the year it was received. You would be required to start withdrawing funds by age 70.
The benefit to the IRA is that all investments in the account can grow and compound tax free. Roth Individual Retirement Accounts do not allow for tax-deductible contributions but do allow for tax-free withdrawals in retirement. Roth IRAs do not require you to make withdrawals by a certain age, making them a good way to transfer wealth to heirs. Any of these can be effective vehicles for investing. Spend some time learning more about your options before making a decision. While this may sound complex, dollar cost averaging simply refers to the fact that — by investing the same amount each month — your average purchase price will reflect the average share price over time.
Dollar cost averaging reduces risk due to the fact that by investing small sums on regular intervals, you reduce your odds of accidentally investing before a large downturn. The end result is your average purchase price will lower over time. It is important to note that the opposite is also true — if shares are constantly rising, your regular contribution will buy fewer and fewer shares, raising your average purchase price over time. However, your shares will also be raising in price so you will still profit. The key is to have a disciplined approach of investing at regular intervals, regardless of price, and avoid “timing the market”.
401k contribution by a few percent. This way you will take advantage of low prices and not have to do anything else but stop the extra contribution a couple of years later. At the same time, your frequent, smaller contributions ensure that no relatively large sum is invested before a market downturn, thereby reducing risk. This is best explained through an example. Over time, this can produce huge growth. Keep in mind since this is an example, we assumed the value of the stock and the dividend stayed constant. In reality, it would likely increase or decrease which could result in substantially more or less money after 40 years.
Avoid concentration in a few stocks. The concept of not having all your eggs in one basket is key in investing. To start, your focus should be on getting broad diversification, or having your money spread out over many different stocks. Your information technology stock may stay flat. One good way to gain diversification is to invest in an product that provides this diversification for you. This can include mutual funds, or ETF’s. Due to their instant diversification, these provide a good option for beginner investors.