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Yesteryear’s Retirement Strategies May Not Stand the Test of Time

According to findings from a pre-retiree study this year,1 one-third of Americans age 55+ say their financial assets have not yet recovered to pre-recession levels. If that isn’t bad enough, many tried-and-true retirement income planning strategies employed by the last generation of seniors no longer appear viable.

Until interest rates start moving back up, the age-old income strategy of laddering fixed rate bonds or CDs is taking a back seat. As an article at Forbes.com recently pointed out, “retirees planning on using that strategy going forward may be sorely disappointed if five-year CD rates stay around 2%.”2

1 (CLICK HERE to read highlights from the SunAmerica Retirement Re-Set Study, July, 2011)

2 (CLICK HERE to read “Five Retirement Strategies that No Longer Work” at Forbes.com, September 1, 2011)

Other retirement income strategies of yesteryear have fallen by the wayside as well, thanks to national economic  problems during the first decade of the new millennium. For example, living off the equity in your home via a home equity loan or line of credit, or even a reverse mortgage, may no longer be feasible. Even for retirees who have paid off their mortgage, you may not get as much return on the investment in your home as you were counting on.

The same goes for selling your home for retirement income – assuming you can find a buyer. The good news is that properties in popular retiree states like Florida and Arizona are selling for a song right now. One option to consider is renting your pre-retirement home and fleeing south for retirement. If you rent your property now and sell it up to three years later, you can still benefit from the $250,000 capital gains tax exclusion if you lived in the home two of the previous five years (up to $500,000 if married filing jointly).

In light of today’s economic hardships, new strategies have gained popularity to help today’s pre-retirees and retirees subsidize their future income. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal Online3 recently, some of those strategies include annuities and “payout funds” – which are basically mutual funds that automatically distribute a level percentage of your account’s market value (4% tends to be a common distribution) on a regular basis, allowing the balance to remain invested in stock and bond markets.

Everyone’s situation is different, but the general garden variety wisdom today tends to advise utilizing a combination of different strategies that include annuities, investments and real estate. And don’t rule out bonds by any means. In fact, long-term government bonds have actually performed better than the S&P 500 over the last 30 years: 11.5% versus 10.8% a year, on average. 4

3 (CLICK HERE to read “Funding the Post Pension Retirement” at The Wall Street Journal Online, October 22, 2011)

4 (CLICK HERE to read “Say what? In 30-Year Race, Bonds Beat Stocks” at Bloomberg.com, October 31, 2011)

If you’d like to learn more about today’s retirement income planning strategies, please contact us today!.

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