4. Better diversify your portfolio.
At this phase of your life, you don’t want financial mistakes — and particularly investment blunders — to derail your retirement game plan. So make sure you’re not investing all of your savings in just a single account or investment type.
If you have investments, review them now — or have a money manager do it — to make sure you have a truly diversified portfolio. After age 50, you also want to reap the greatest possible return from your investments, as these may be your highest income-earning years and the time when you have the most potential to sock away money.
Ahead of retirement, the goal is to start adjusting your investment risk a bit, while maintaining the opportunity for steady growth in the upcoming years.
“As you get closer to retirement, I would argue that diversification becomes even more important,” says Dan Keady, a certified financial planner in Charlotte, N.C., and director of financial planning for the financial services firm TIAA-CREF. He notes that pre-retirees have a shorter window to retirement and that they often forget to consider how much of their portfolio they will have to draw down annually once they stop working.
So having the right mix of stocks, bonds and cash is essential — as is avoiding duplication in your investments.
Keady says one way to ensure that you don’t have so-called portfolio overlap is to pay attention to multiple factors. Look closely at the investment class you’re buying (stocks, bonds, commodities, cash, etc.), the industry or sector in which an investment is held (i.e. banking, pharmaceuticals, retail, and so on), as well as investment style (growth vs. value).
As for maintaining a healthy asset allocation, or mix of investments, that’s where things get a lot trickier.
In years past, investment professionals offered general rules of thumb like “take the number 100 and subtract your age.” The resulting number would suggest how much of your portfolio should be invested in stocks.
These days, though, most financial planners hesitate to offer such broad guidelines, suggesting that you’re far better off sitting down with an adviser who can assess your overall financial standing plus your goals, needs, risk tolerance and time horizon.
5. Set up a will or a trust. Now!
Admit it: You’ve procrastinated about creating a will for far too long, telling yourself you’d get around to it “someday.” Well, someday is now! It’s time to create or update your last will and testament.
Unfortunately, nearly half of all of Americans over the age of 50 don’t have a basic will, according to FindLaw.com.
Getting a professional in your corner can get you on the right track and help ensure that you take care of these essential financial tasks. To find out which professional can best assist you, whether it’s an attorney, life insurance specialist, investment adviser or someone else, try a site called DesignationCheck.com.
The site provides information on what each designation behind an adviser’s name really means. It also spells out what course work, exams, continuing education, qualifications and code of ethics a professional had to pass or agree to live by in order to obtain a given designation.
Also of interest: Should you invest in municipal bonds?