I hope that most baby boomers who are close to retirement have developed a fundamental understanding of the “sequence of returns” risk as it applies to their retirement security. In a nutshell, the sequence of returns risk tells us that the annual returns on our retirement investments do not by themselves determine whether our retirement nest egg will support us until we die. Rather, we must also carefully consider when those returns occur. For example, a significant market downturn at the commencement of our retirement – say at age 65 – is much more dangerous than if the same downturn occurs ten years later, at age 75. Let’s think more about this for a minute.
This past fall and winter I added some new investments to my retirement portfolio. The investments are known as target date bond exchange traded funds. Sometimes they are referred to as “target maturity” bond funds. This type of investment is new. The target date bond ETF category shows great promise for providing bond-like retirement income with little or no interest rate risk.
Although I have been slow posting in recent months (now being remedied), I have continued to track my net worth as I move ever closer to retirement. (I say “ever closer” despite not having selected a retirement target date.) I have also made some recent changes in my investments with others planned in the coming weeks. The objectives for these changes are to a (a) increase certainty of income in future years and (b) simplify. I will write more about these changes next week.
I recently wrote about my intention to move some of my retirement nest egg into a defined maturity bond fund. I thought this initial investment would be inside by 401k plan. Instead, I used cash that had been sitting in my taxable retirement investment account after I sold my gold ETF holdings earlier this year.
Regular readers know that I have been managing my retirement investments with an increasingly risk-averse attitude, particularly as applied to my equity allocations. On the other hand, I think I need to be more strategic in managing my fixed-income investments. My concern arises from the anticipated increase in interest rates that will probably kick-in sometime next year. After some study, I am considering moving some of my retirement nest egg into one or more defined maturity bond funds or ETFs. If you have never heard of these, join the club. I knew nothing about them until last month.
My daily personal finance routine continues to include net worth tracking. Call me obsessive but is there a better overall indicator of financial progress toward retirement? Not that I am aware of but I am certainly open to being educated by a reader on this. The results during the first quarter are positive but no doubt less than mediocre compared to many of you. The results are about what I anticipated.
We are almost 5 years from the worst of the last market crash. Can we relax and catch our breath now? Is it safe for a baby boomer to once again rely on the market for a secure retirement? Is it possible to design a financial system and market economy that won’t crash? The realists don’t seem to think so. I’m one of them.
In the past few weeks I have purchased more I-Bonds using cash in savings and bought more TIPS (Treasury Inflation Protected Securities) using assets inside my 401(k) account. I made these moves to (a) reduce risk and (b) increase the amount of future retirement income that is both guaranteed and inflation-protected. I will be continuing this strategy in 2014. Today I made some more year-end changes.
Last week I purchased a $10,000 I Bond, which is the yearly maximum allowed by current law. (This is a “per Social Security number limit.) You can exceed this limit by using your federal income tax refund to buy even more I bonds, but this would require me to over-withhold during the year which I do not want to do. I will make another I-Bond purchase early next year as I ease out of the conventional stock and bond markets.
The first quarter of 2013 is in the books and it’s time to look back and see what progress we made, if any. First up: net worth. [Read more…]