Daily Gains Letter

Retirement

Back on January 1, 2011, the first wave of baby boomers began celebrating their 65th birthdays. All told, 77 million Americans were born from 1946 through 1964, and, for the next 17 years, 10,000 a day will be entering retirement. The Woodstock generation has become a generation of senior citizens.

Even at the best of times, saving for retirement is not an easy task. Throw in economic uncertainty and low savings rates, and the well-intentioned idea of saving for retirement can become a distant memory.

A recent report shows that Americans’ confidence in their ability to retire comfortably is at an historic low. Just 14% are “very confident” they will have enough money to live comfortably when they retire; on the other end of the scale, 23% say they are “not at all” confident. What’s more, approximately 60% of middle-class retirees will likely run out of money if they maintain their pre-retirement lifestyle and don’t cut spending by at least 24%.

Even though the majority of Baby Boomers view retirement as a crisis, few understand how much money they’ll actually need to retire and what they need to do to get there.

The future doesn’t look much brighter. Many American workers believe they just don’t have enough extra money to set aside for retirement. Not surprising when you consider that 43% say that job uncertainty is the most pressing issue facing America today; with many saying they have virtually no savings or investments.

To make sure you’re on track for a secure retirement, it’s important to understand your retirement plans and set goals. When it comes to creating an investment strategy, there are many things to consider.

When creating a retirement savings plan, it’s important to decide how much you need to save and when you need to save it by. While there are no easy answers to retiring in comfort, investors do have retirement options that can help increase income and reduce market risk.


If Your Nest Egg is “Broken,” Here’s How to Repair It

By for Daily Gains Letter | Aug 15, 2013

DL_Aug_15_2013_JohnA growing number of American retirement nest eggs are cracked, and the fault lines are getting bigger.

While the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average are enjoying record highs, the same cannot be said for the employment rate. In fact, stubbornly high unemployment and underemployment mean a growing number of Americans have had to dip into their retirement funds—and sacrifice their future stability—just to get by.

While the official U.S. unemployment rate sits at 7.4%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the underemployment rate—those who are unemployed, want work but have stopped searching, or are working part time because they can’t find full-time work—remains stubbornly high at an eye-watering 14.2%.

If history is any indicator, it looks as though the underemployment rate will remain sky high for the near future. That’s because more Americans are being forced into part-time jobs to pay the bills. In fact, almost four times as many Americans are taking on part-time work as opposed to full-time jobs—the complete opposite of last year. (Source: Luhby, T., “Want a job? Good luck finding full-time work,” CNN.com, August 12, 2013.)

Why are American companies hiring more temps and part-time workers? It depends on who you ask. Economic uncertainty, weaker consumer confidence, and a lack of consumer demand are certainly major reasons why employers are holding back on hiring full-time workers, but when it comes to the economy, it’s open for debate.

What isn’t open for debate is that more than one-third (36%) of unemployed or underemployed American workers have been forced to tap into their retirement accounts just to get by. On top of that, … Read More


The Alternative Asset Allocation Plan Every Investor Needs

By for Daily Gains Letter | Aug 13, 2013

retirementWhen it comes to investing, everyone wants to be in the best performing asset classes. Unfortunately, few, if any, are that good at consistently choosing the top performing asset classes to add to their retirement fund year after year. That’s why diversification is so important.

Riskier investments like stocks provide the best returns over the long term; they also happen to be the most volatile asset. Bonds, on the other hand, are much safer, and, as a result, offer very little when it comes to returns. By combing different types of investment strategies among different asset classes, investors can generate profit and reduce risk levels to meet their retirement goals.

To help minimize the risk of human error, emotions, and uncontrollable outside factors and to maximize long-term performance, investors concentrate on asset allocation—the art of spreading out their money in stocks, bonds, commodities, cash, and, for some, real estate.

The old asset allocation equation used to suggest people keep a percentage of bonds equal to their age in their retirement fund, with the remainder in stocks; a 40-year-old, for example, would park 40% of their investments in bonds and 60% in stocks. But since no two people have the same financial needs, it’s pretty hard to have an asset allocation strategy that works for everyone. The fact of the matter is that it’s up to each individual to find an asset allocation risk level that meets their long-term portfolio needs.

That can be difficult to do in this climate. In spite of weak economic news and high unemployment, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average are hitting new highs. … Read More


Is Retirement at Risk for Late Baby Boomers?

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jul 29, 2013

Retirement at Risk for Late Baby BoomersOn July 23, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit an all-time intraday high of 15,604.22. That same day, the S&P 500 also hit a new high of 1,698.78. With the markets doing so well, you could be forgiven for thinking today’s baby boomers are laughing all the way to the bank.

But that’s not so! Most baby boomers haven’t really benefited from the bull market. While it runs with reckless abandon, it’s leaving behind most Americans who are in retirement. Over the last five years, stocks and bonds have rallied, but the housing market has remained relatively flat. That means affluent Americans who park their assets in stocks and other financial products have done quite well. Those Americans with their wealth tied up in the value of their homes, however, have not.

Since the beginning of the current bull market in 2009, the S&P 500 has climbed more than 160%. U.S. housing prices, on the other hand, are still more than 25% below their 2006 highs.

Retiring baby boomers are also facing another challenge. Early boomers—those between 61 and 65—are more financially stable (for the most part) than their younger peers (those between 50 and 55). The early boomers worked during a period of economic stability in an era when defined benefit plans were the norm. In 1965, the inflation rate was 1.59%; by 1970, it had risen to 5.84%.

The late boomers, in contrast, started working in a more unsettled economic time. In the 1980s, many companies rolled their retirement plans over to 401(k) accounts, tying their self-directed retirement savings to the ups and downs of the stock market. … Read More


The Stocks You Need to Know About Now to Protect Your Retirement

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jun 27, 2013

retirement savingsThe dream of retiring comfortably is a mirage for the vast majority of Americans. According to the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS), the retirement savings shortfall in the U.S. is worse than anyone thought. But it’s not an impossible dream for wise investors.

After the U.S. markets crashed in 2008, many Americans saw the value of their hard-earned nest egg evaporate. While the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average have been on a five-year bull run, this hasn’t trickled down to the average American. In fact, unemployment remains high, a record number of Americans receive food stamps, wages are stagnant, and personal debt is up.

All of that makes it difficult to set aside money to save for retirement.

And we are now bearing witness to the number of Americans who are sorely unprepared for retirement. In fact, the NIRS study found that roughly 45%, or 38 million, working-age households do not have any retirement account assets. (Source: “The Retirement Savings Crisis: Is It Worse Than We Think?,” National Institute of Retirement Security web site, June 2013.)

More specifically, when all working-age families are accounted for, the typical family has just $3,000 saved for retirement. Those nearing retirement don’t fare much better, with only $12,000 in the bank.

On top of that, 80% of working families have retirement savings less than one times their annual income. As a result, the U.S. retirement savings deficit has ballooned to between $6.8 and $14.0 trillion.

Even at the best of times it can be difficult to plan for retirement. After two recessions (2001 and 2008), even the most optimistic can give … Read More


Retirement Post Recession: Why It’s No Longer the Golden Years

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jun 14, 2013

Retirement Post RecessionWill your retirement mantra be, “save, save, save,” or “work, work, work?” That depends on how close to retirement you are—at least, according to a recent study published by The Pew Charitable Trusts. (Source: “Are Americans Prepared for their Golden Years?,” The Pew Charitable Trusts web site, May 16, 2013, last accessed June 13, 2013.)

When the Great Recession hit in 2007, the oldest baby boomers were just a few short years away from retirement. And, after a lifetime of economic expansion and planning for retirement, they faced the real possibility of losing a significant portion of their savings. The economic downturn also heightened retirement planning concerns facing virtually everyone else.

Many Americans who had held off saving for retirement saw their situations exacerbated by unemployment and a bleak job market. Many more also found themselves saddled to homes that were worth a lot less than they were just a few years before—though that’s a better predicament than those who discovered their houses were worth less than the mortgages they were carrying.

According to the report, early baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1955) were heading toward retirement with enough savings to maintain their financial security. And thanks to both the “Dot-Com” boom and housing bubble, early baby boomers had higher overall wealth, net worth, and home equity than the Great Depression babies (those born between 1926 and 1935) or war babies (born between 1936 and 1945) had at the same ages.

But that doesn’t mean their retirement plans didn’t take a hit. Between 2007 and 2010, every age group experienced a significant loss of wealth. Early boomers lost … Read More