When planning for their retirement 10 years ago, Joe and Carol Martinsky prepared for the worst-case scenario: What if we run out of money?
It is a concern made even more dire for retirees since the stock market took a dive through 2008 and housing prices plummeted, driving down people's wealth.
But Joe Martinsky, who worked as an engineer for 35 years with Lockheed Martin, said he met with a financial planner in his 50s to map out the right investments.
"I got involved early enough," said Martinsky, now 72 and living at the Four Seasons at Historic Smithville, a retirement community in Galloway Township. "I'm not losing money, although I lost a lot of my gain from last year."
For those in retirement or planning to retire in the next 10 years, having enough income to last the rest of your life might require you to re-evaluate your finances and adjust accordingly.
In the case of people who have lost significant money in the stock market, financial planner Mark Reimet says the way to make up for those losses is to keep invested in stocks.
"If you were an aggressive investor two years ago, it's just not going to be made back with a 3 percent CD at this point in time," said Reimet, of Ocean City Financial Group.
He pointed to the Dow Jones Industrial Average making gains into positive territory this year as a sign that the stock market is not a complete dud - although analysts are arguing whether such a rally can re-emerge through the summer.
"I think if a person has ridden the stock market down, selling out at this point only applies to those who simply can't take it anymore and can't sleep at night," Reimet added.
As investors get older, the trend is to rely on more conservative financial products that will not create the volatility that the stock market provides.
George Leupold, of Leupold Financial Planning Associates in Somers Point, said diversification of your assets is key. That means having stock funds in large, medium, small and global companies, as well as holding certificates of deposit, money market funds and bonds.
"It's not unusual to be living into your mid-90s," Leupold said. "If you retire at 65 and you make it to 95, that's 30 years that your investment pool will need to take care of you. And you have to remember you need to keep up with inflation, and that medical costs are huge for most retirees. You're probably lucky if that cost goes up 8 to 10 percent a year."
So where do you keep your money?
Ibbotson Associates, a market research and consulting firm in Chicago, found that having 100 percent of your investment in stocks probably isn't your best bet. While it can provide for the largest positive return on your investment compared to solely investing in bonds or cash and equivalents, it can also give you the largest negative return, according to an Ibbotson analysis of data from 1926 to 2008.
If all your money was invested in stocks last year, you would have seen an average 37 percent negative return.
However, the more diversified an investor was last year, their negative return was smaller. Someone with 60 percent in stocks, 30 percent in bonds and 10 percent in cash and equivalents, such as Treasury bills and securities, would have seen an average 18.10 percent negative return.
And if you held just 10 percent in stocks, 80 percent in bonds and 10 percent in cash and equivalents, you would have seen an average positive return of 6.96 percent.
Ibbotson's analysis also shows that the investments that had the most years of returns greater than inflation were those that were 10 percent to 20 percent in stocks, 70 percent to 80 percent in bonds and 10 percent in cash and equivalents.
Leupold said some of his retired clients are still invested at 8 percent or more in the stock market as a way to create long-term growth. He also suggests taking out no more than 4 percent to 5 percent of your investment per year during your retirement as a way to ensure your dollars last longer.
"Some clients used to take out 12 to 15 percent during the dotcom days," Leupold said. "Those days are gone."
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