Prepare for Retirement with These Investment Strategies

October 12, 2021

Everyone deserves to retire in comfort. Here are some of the best investment strategies for retirement that every investor should try.

Retirement might seem like a lifetime away. But despite the fact that most Americans want to retire by age 67, most of them are not on track to get there.

Nearly two-thirds of 40-somethings have less than $100,000 saved for retirement, and 28% of those in their sixties have less than $50,000. An astonishing 35% of all Americans don’t have any retirement savings at all.

It’s never too late to start working on your nest egg—even if you’re a ways behind. Here are some of the best investment strategies for retirement that everyone should use.

Figure Out How Much You Need

First and foremost, figure out how much you need to retire. Hint: most people round down. You should round up.

There are a variety of ways to calculate this. Fidelity, for example, recommends saving 1x your salary by 30, 3x your salary by 40, 6x your salary by 50, 8x your salary by 60, and 10x your salary by 67. A popular rule of thumb says you would need about 80% of your pre-retirement income to retire, but it demands a contortionist’s thumb.

A better (but still outdated) approach is the 4% rule, which says you should withdraw 4% of your portfolio for each year of retirement. The rule was made in 1994 and now serves as a bare minimum, but it’s a good place to start. To use the 4% rule, add up your monthly expenses, take out anything you won’t pay in retirement (be realistic!), multiply by 12, then multiply by 25 (number of years in retirement). You’ll quickly see why this is outdated—it gets you a crazy number.

Either way, your calculation must account for:

  • How much you’ll spend
  • How much your savings will earn
  • How long you’ll live
  • How much you need to withdraw each year

Round up (even if the number gets scarier) and keep in mind you’ll spend more on healthcare as you age.

Get a Retirement Account

If you have a retirement account, now is the time to max out your contribution limit. If you don’t have one, now is the time to dive in.

For most people, the easiest route to do this is their employer-sponsored 401(k) plan. This plan is super easy since you can allocate a portion of your paycheck to go straight to the plan before it lands in your bank account, so saving is automatic.

If your employer doesn’t offer a 401(k) plan, opt into whatever retirement account they offer and make the most of it. If your employer doesn’t offer one, you’re a gig worker, or you work for yourself, you have other options.

The best route is an individual retirement account, or IRA. Some robo-advisors even allow you to open IRA accounts as part of their service—if you already have an advisor you like, take advantage of it. However, keep in mind that an IRA is just a container for investment vehicles, so you have to invest within the IRA, rather than dumping money in like a savings account and expecting it to grow by magic.

Try the Stock Market…

If you’re investing, the number one growth avenue is stocks. Fortunately, you don’t need Wall Street credentials to get started. In fact, if you have a 401(k), you already own stock.

However, there’s something to be said for investing in stocks outside your retirement account. It gives you a lot more freedom to choose, which means more growth.

Start by asking how you’d like to invest, which is basically asking whether you want to choose individual stocks or have a professional do it for you. Here’s a hint: if you don’t know much about stocks, it’s a good idea to have someone do it for you. You can do it on the cheap with a robo-advisor, or you can swallow extra fees to work with a professional broker.

…And Then Diversify

Regardless of how you prefer to invest, diversification is the mantra of every successful investor. This helps protect you against serious losses if the stock market tanks, and if you have assets that aren’t correlated to the market, they may even grow regardless of how the market performs.

The key is to find an approach to asset allocation that works for you. Asset allocation is simply an investment strategy that balances your portfolio across multiple asset classes based on your risk level, timeframe, and preferences.

For example, if you want to stick to stocks, index funds are a good way to achieve rapid diversification. However, don’t be afraid to venture out of the stock market into alternative investments (anything that isn’t a stock, bond, or cash). These have low correlation to the stock market and often perform well as a hedge against inflation—great news for your retirement savings!

Put Your Investment Strategies to Work

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