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You’re Retiring. Now What? Retirement Planning: A Reassessment [2022]

[Music] Consuelo Mack: On WEALTHTRACK, why a reassessment
of retirement planning is in order. Christine Benz: Given how elevated the market
is and low return expectations for fixed incomes securities for stocks, the tricky part is
that people embarking on retirement today need to probably take less than that four
percent, they would probably need to start more in the range of three percent. [Music] Consuelo Mack: Morningstar's personal finance
guru Christine Benz joins us with her checklist on Consuelo Mack WEALTHTRACK. Announcer: Funding provided by ClearBridge
Investments, Morgan Le Fay Dreams Foundation, First Eagle Investment Management, Royce Investment
Partners, Matthews Asia and Strategas Asset Management. [Music] Consuelo Mack: Hello, and welcome to this
edition of WEALTHTRACK. I'm Consuelo Mack. One of the biggest changes of the past year
has been the record number of Americans who are quitting their jobs. It is so pronounced that it has a name. It's called the Great Resignation. The so-called quit rate has exceeded pre-pandemic
highs for months. Millions of Americans have walked out the
door. A sizable number are starting their own businesses. According to the Wall Street Journal, since
the pandemic began, the number of unincorporated self-employed workers has risen by more than
half a million to nearly 10 million, one of the highest levels in years, and the number
of applications for federal tax ID numbers to register new businesses soared to nearly
five million, the highest number on record.

Another huge contributor to the Great Resignation
is the surge in retirement. Since March of 2020, the number of adults
55 and older who retired was nearly two million more than the rate was pre-pandemic. What the Great Resignation means for retirement
planning is just one of the items on Christine Benz’s Financial To-Do List this year. Morningstar's Director of Personal Finance
is joining us for the 4th year in a row to help us get in personal financial shape. Benz, a WEALTHTRACK regular, is an acknowledged
personal finance guru. She has held the title of Morningstar's Director
of Personal Finance since 2008. She writes daily personal finance columns
for Morningstar, does interviews and podcasts, and is the author of several books, including
30 Minute Money Solutions, A Step-by-Step Guide to Managing Your Finances, and The Morningstar
Guide to Mutual Funds: Five Star Strategies for Success.

She has also been named to Barron's List of
100 Most Influential Women in U.S. Finance for the last two years. I began our conversation by asking her about
the impact the Great Resignation could have on retirement planning. Christine Benz: Well, I think there are a
few things that people who are hanging it up from work need to be thinking about with
respect to retirement planning. One is that there's, sort of, the standard
rule of thumb for thinking about whether you have enough for retirement, and that's called
the Four Percent Guideline. And it basically means, could you live on
four percent of your portfolio plus whatever income sources you might have? So if you're taking Social Security, you'd
have that too. The tricky part is that given how elevated
the market is and low return expectations for fixed income securities, for stocks, the
tricky part is that people embarking on retirement today need to probably take less than that
four percent.

They would probably need to start more in
the range of three percent. So I think people who are looking upon, drawing
upon their portfolio for their living expenses need to use that as a quick and dirty starting
point for assessing the viability of their retirement plans. Consuelo Mack: That's a big drop, Christine. I mean, from the four percent has been the,
kind of, the traditional assumption that you should plan on taking four percent of your
retirement savings, whatever, and that will last you for 30 years.

And, certainly, if you retire early, you're
going to have a longer retirement plan, but you're saying three percent, in general, now
that's the new standard? Christine Benz: Our research concluded that
if you have a 30-year time horizon, a balanced portfolio and you want to have like a 90 percent
probability of not running out of money during that 30-year time horizon, 3.3 percent is
a good starting point, that's probably overly precise I think if you were to be in that
three and a half percent range. But, certainly, people who have extended time
horizons, so people who expect to be retired for 40 or 50 years, and this would apply to
people in their 40s who are retiring today, they'd want to set that withdrawal rate even
lower, probably in the realm of two percent. And there, that starts to begin looking more
challenging in terms of, could you live on that amount? Consuelo Mack: And Christine, as far as the
Great Resignation is concerned and more and more people being self-employed, I mean, that
means they're not going to have a regular paycheck.

So the impact on retirement planning for someone
who's self-employed, what should they be thinking about? Christine Benz: Well, certainly, people who
are embarking on self-employment do have some vehicles that they can use to continue to
fund their own retirements. So IRAs, SEP IRAs for self-employed individuals. Health care, though, is a big wild card for
self-employed people, as you know.

And so I think it does make sense to really
make sure you have a good health care plan. I think that's one big impediment to people
being more entrepreneurial, that they're worried about how they will do for health care coverage. But oftentimes you do tend to see this trend
when people embark on self-employment, investing in their business comes first, and oftentimes
they do tend to short shrift their own retirement. So it's super important to keep that in mind. If you are self-employed, make sure that those
ongoing retirement plan contributions are part of your budget. Consuelo Mack: Christine, thinking about the
new three and a half percent withdrawal rate, there are some more flexible strategies that
you're suggesting. What are they? Christine Benz: Well, the name of the game
is that you want to be able to withdraw less if you happen to encounter a down market,
and that's particularly important in the early years of retirement.

There's this phenomenon that retirement researchers
call sequence of return risk or sequencing risk. And that basically means that you retire and
then encounter a lousy market environment right out of the box. That's the thing you worry about, and one
way that you can protect yourself against that is potentially taking less in those down
markets. So in our research, we tested a number of
different flexible strategies, and that's really a commonality among them. They help new retirees take a little bit more
initially than that 3.3 percent or 3.5 percent that we talked about, in exchange, though,
the trade-off is that as a retiree, you have to be prepared to take less.

So, one really simple tweak to, sort of, the
fixed real withdrawal system that underpins that four percent guideline or the 3.3 percent
guideline in our world is to simply forego inflation adjustments. So forgo inflation adjustments in the year
after your portfolio has endured a loss. We found that that is a really simple strategy
that actually does help enlarge retirees’ portfolios over their lifetime. There are a number of other, more complicated
strategies. Another one we looked at is called the guardrails
system. This was developed by financial planner Jonathan
Guyton and William Klinger, who's a computer scientist. It's a little bit more complicated. It ensures that the retiree takes less in
down markets, but in exchange, he or she can take more when the portfolio is up. So in environments like right now, you'd be
able to get a little bit of a raise because the market has been good. That strategy is more efficient. It means that the retiree consumes more of
his or her portfolio over the lifetime, but it also tends to leave less at the end.

So for people who are really bequest-minded,
such a strategy wouldn't be a great idea. Consuelo Mack: Talking about flexible strategies,
obviously we would take into account if we are eligible, our Social Security income stream,
which is inflation protected. But also, what about annuities, which in the
past have gotten a bad name, but that's another possible income stream possibility that we
should consider, right? Christine Benz: Absolutely. I think job one, even before you start thinking
about withdrawal rates, is to look at your non-portfolio income sources. Looking at Social Security, looking at an
annuity, possibly. And the reason is that we've got more and
more folks who are coming into retirement without the benefit of pensions. So the name of the game is to look at your
fixed cash flow needs, and then try to match them to non-portfolio income sources.

Annuities do have a bad name, and I think
rightfully so in some respects, largely because you've got some incredibly opaque, expensive
products, but there are also some really good annuities that do offer lifetime benefits. I tend to favor the very simple, plain vanilla
annuities that fixed immediate annuities or fixed deferred annuities where there's a lot
of transparency. For consumers, they tend to be lower cost
and you can easily comparison shop.

And I would also say, if you're thinking of
an annuity as part of your toolkit, don't go straight to the insurance company, go to
a fee-only financial planner. Get some objective guidance on whether that
makes sense for you, given your situation. But the important thing about annuities is
that, as an annuity purchaser, you benefit from what's called longevity risk pooling,
meaning that you are in the pool with other people. Some will die younger than expected, some
will live a lot longer. You hope you'll be one of the longer-lived
ones. And in so doing, you'll be able to enjoy a
larger sum of money out of that annuity than will people who die earlier.

Consuelo Mack: One of the criticisms of annuities
recently, even the fixed income annuities, is that interest rates are so low, so the
returns historically are low. Christine Benz: Well, that is a risk factor
that interest rates are very low, so, arguably, you're locking in a fairly low payout. So there are a couple of workarounds, one
would be to do a series of annuity purchases over a period of several years. But one other risk factor that I think does
loom large with annuities is inflation risk, which is certainly front and center for a
lot of people today, especially retirees. Most annuities do not offer an inflation adjustment
in that payout. So if we do see inflation run much higher
than it has historically, that would be a risk factor for new annuity buyers.

The main benefit of annuities is that longevity
risk pooling, and that does tend to elevate payouts from annuities quite substantially
above what you get with fixed rate investments. Consuelo Mack: Talk to us about of how we
protect ourselves and our portfolios against inflation. Christine Benz: Yeah. It's a huge topic today, obviously. I think it makes sense to kind of think of
this problem as two sides of a ledger. So I would start by looking at your expenditures,
and I often think about this column that Jason Zweig wrote probably a decade ago. He called it me-flation, and the idea is that
we don't experience inflation as CPI. We each have our own consumption basket, and
some people might have higher inflation because the stuff they're spending on is inflating
at a higher rate than CPI. Some people may have lower rates of inflation. So, really, take stock of how you're spending
your money.

If you're a homeowner, the nice thing about
that is that at least your housing costs are somewhat inflation protected. You may have sort of ancillary housing costs
if you're paying people to do things around your house or your home heating costs may
be going up, but at least your, sort of, main big ticket housing expense is locked down. Health care costs have historically been inflating
higher than the general inflation rate. The good news is that, right now at least,
health care costs do appear to be running below CPI, which is somewhat rare and it may
— Consuelo Mack: It is.

Christine Benz: — sort of reverse itself. So think about how you're spending your money
and then turn your attention to whether you are protected in terms of where you're getting
your income. So if you are someone who is earning a paycheck
and you're eligible for cost-of-living adjustments, well, those are, at least in part, making
you whole with respect to inflation, they're helping you keep up with CPI. In a worst-case scenario, say you are a retiree
and you're drawing exclusively from a portfolio of fixed rate investments for your withdrawals,
for your income, you're not at all inflation protected.

And you really need to think about, well,
how can I protect this plan? How can I protect my withdrawals from inflation? And that's where I think stocks serve a great
role. They're by no means any sort of direct inflation
hedge, but they, over time, do tend to have higher returns than inflation, which is one
reason why I think even older retirees would probably want to make room for stocks as a
component of their portfolio. Within the bond piece of your portfolio, if
you're retired, especially, I think it makes sense to consider Treasury Inflation Protected
Securities or i-bonds. And these are basically Treasury bonds that
give you a little bit of a nudge up in terms of your principal and in turn your income
when we see inflation running up. Consuelo Mack: Another suggestion, Christine,
that you've sent me on your to-do-list is the fact how essential it is to look at your
portfolio and consider rebalancing your portfolio.

U.S. stocks have done really well, U.S. growth
stocks have done really well and stocks in general have done well versus bonds. Is this a good time to rebalance? Christine Benz: I think it is. I'll keep banging this drum. I think I said that a year ago, too, and yet
we've seen kind of a similar performance pattern. U.S. stocks have performed very, very well,
but I do think that this is a nice way, without having to get too cute about timing the market,
this is a nice way to ensure that your portfolio's risk level stays in line with your targets. Annually, take a look at your asset allocation
relative to your target. If you're retired, I think the good news is
that we've had a strong stock market and your cash flow needs for the next couple of years
are probably hiding in plain sight in terms of your appreciated equity assets. Think about taking some money off the table
there, plowing it into safe investments that you can live on and that will give you peace
of mind, you'll leave a good share of your portfolio in stocks and it will give you peace
of mind to be patient with them if they do encounter some volatility.

Consuelo Mack: We're talking about rebalancing
and taking profits in a highly appreciated asset class and shifting them over to one
that hasn't appreciated as much, but that's going to involve taxes. Christine Benz: Right. Consuelo Mack: So talk to us about the tax
considerations. Christine Benz: It's crucial to be thoughtful
about this and to the extent that you have tax deferred or other tax advantaged assets,
it really does make sense to focus those activities in those accounts because you can trade all
day long. Not that you should, but you could trade a
lot and not incur any taxes, even if you're selling appreciated winners. So the good news is that, for many retirees,
the bulk of their assets do reside in tax sheltered vehicles where they can make those

They might owe taxes on the distributions
that they take, but the repositioning would not entail any taxes. If you're a younger investor, not yet retired,
focus those rebalancing activities within your tax-sheltered accounts. Also take care with respect to converting
IRA assets, traditional IRA assets, to Roth. You sometimes hear that that's a good strategy. Be careful about doing that when the market
is elevated, because the taxes that you'll owe on those conversions will depend on your
gains, the size of your balance and the amount that you're converting. So get some tax help. Whether you're doing this repositioning to
get your portfolio back into balance or whether you're doing IRA conversions, get another
set of eyes on what the tax implications might be.

Consuelo Mack: And another tax friendly strategy
is, of course, charitable donations, right? Christine Benz: So true. Consuelo Mack: Yeah. Christine Benz: The charitable contributions
of appreciated securities. You can do that at any age. You can actually get a donor advised fund
into the act where you can donate those appreciated securities, even employer stock to a donor
advised fund. And the beauty of that is that you can take
your time and be deliberate about making those charitable contributions. You can direct those contributions over time. Older adults who are required to take minimum
distributions from their IRAs can also use what's called a qualified charitable distribution,
where they donate a portion of their RMDs to charity. There's a little bit of a disconnect with
the ages, you can start the QCD, the qualified charitable distribution, at age 70 and a half.

RMDs kick in at age 72. So if you're 70 and a half, start looking
at this strategy, it's absolutely phenomenal and it is a way to lower your tax bill and
also lower the amount of balance that will be subject to required minimum distributions
down the line. Consuelo Mack: For those still working, you
check your retirement plan contributions. So talk to us about what's changed this year
from last year. Christine Benz: We're seeing a little bit
of an increase in 401K, 403B, 457 contribution limits. So going up to 20,500 in 2022 for people who
are under age 50. If you're over 50, you can take $27,000 in
terms of 401K contributions. So if you haven't revisited those contributions
that you're making, check to see if you're on track to make the maximum allowable contributions.

IRA contributions are staying the same for
2022, but take a look at whether you are on track to max out your IRA contributions. I love the idea of automating those just as
you do with 401K contributions, where you're signing on the dotted line with your IRA provider
to make ongoing contributions. The nice thing is, is that you can just invisibly
make those contributions. It doesn't give you time to equivocate about
whether it's a good time to make those contributions.

They just come right out of your checking
account. Consuelo Mack: We've had a 10 year — longer
than 10-year bull market now. For retirement planning, what are the risks? I mean, are there psychological risks to having
this prolonged bull market? Christine Benz: I think it's a good news,
bad news story. So we were talking earlier about that lower
withdrawal rate that is in order. The good news is it's a lower withdrawal rate
on a larger balance for many retirees. So it may translate into a higher dollar withdrawal
than would have been the case 5 years ago, because if you've been investing, if you've
been in the stock market, you've enjoyed that nice appreciation, but it is a lower percentage.

But I do think the psychological aspect of
this is huge, Consuelo, because a lot of retirees have been through many market downdrafts. And so their risk tolerance, their comfort
level with risk is higher than it will ever be during their lifetime, just as they're
embarking on retirement. The problem is their risk capacity, their
ability to absorb that risk, as they get into drawdown mode, as they get into drawing upon
their portfolios, that's actually diminished a little bit. So it's an odd disconnect, and I think it's
important to keep in mind the distinction between risk tolerance.

It may be high at retirement. Risk capacity is lower because you're going
to be starting to draw upon that portfolio, and you certainly don't want to be drawing
upon a 100 percent equity portfolio. You want to have safer assets that you could
draw upon if a bad market materializes especially early on in your retirement. Consuelo Mack: So the common wisdom is as
you get closer to retirement is to increase your defensive assets, and even though bonds
don't feel like they're defensive, that that's what we should be doing, and cash, certainly,
which has been really criticized and kind of diminished as far as Wall Street is concerned,
its value, but it can be quite valuable. So that type of strategy is still in place
as you get closer to retirement or in retirement is to increase your defensive assets.

Christine Benz: Very much so. The way I think about it is, given how low
yields are, it's not return on capital. You will not get much in terms — Consuelo Mack: Right. Christine Benz: — of a yield or a return
from these investments. In fact, current yields are really good predictor
of what you're able to earn from fixed income assets over the next decade. Well, that's a low return, but it is return
of principle that we know, especially during equity market downdrafts, we know that high
quality fixed income securities tend to hold up relatively well during those periods, and
that's really what you're looking for. You're looking for something that will hold
stable during that period when you're needing to spend from it. So I do think that the rule of thumb or the
thought about de-risking a portfolio as retirement draws close absolutely still holds up Consuelo Mack: One investment for a long term
diversified portfolio, Christine, what would you have us all on some of? Christine Benz: Well, we've been talking about
inflation protection and worries about inflation, and so I do think that people who are looking
at retirement and getting close to spending from their portfolios might consider an investment
in Treasury Inflation Protected Securities.

And one fund I like of this ilk is Vanguard
Short-Term Inflation Protected Securities. It is a very low-cost product. It's very conservative, so your return will
not be great over your holding period, but it will do a good job of defending against
inflation. And unlike some other Treasury Inflation Protected
Funds, it tends to not be very interest rate sensitive, so it invests in short-term Treasury
Inflation Protected Securities. So it tends not to be buffeted around by interest
rates. And that's a good thing, especially if you're
worried about inflation. We often see higher interest rates go hand
in hand with inflation. And so in such a product, in a short-term
TIPS Fund, you'll be relatively protected from some of the interest rate related volatility
that often accompanies longer term TIPS Funds. Consuelo Mack: All right, Christine Benz,
thanks so much for joining us — Christine Benz: Thank you, Consuelo. Consuelo Mack: — with your annual to do list. Christine Benz: It's my pleasure. Consuelo Mack: It’s always our pleasure
as well. Thanks, Christine. Christine Benz: Thank you so much. [Music] Consuelo Mack: At the close of every WEALTHTRACK,
we try to give you one suggestion to help you build and protect your wealth over the
long term.

This week's Action Point is think twice before
joining the Great Resignation Movement. As we just discussed, retirement tends to
be longer and more expensive than most of us realize. Early retirement can really put a dent in
your retirement income. Self-employment is very appealing, but it
does have some drawbacks. Lack of a regular paycheck, benefits and matching
401K contributions, plus all of the backup services we take for granted. Offices, supplies, tech support, etc. are
expensive. It pays to do some hard analysis with family,
friends and advisors before walking out the door. Next week, Social Security guru Mary Beth
Franklin updates us on managing that crucial retirement program and other strategies to
maximize retirement income. In this week's extra feature, what keeps Christine
Benz motivated as the incredibly busy multitasking head of personal finance at Morningstar.

For those of you active in social media, please
follow us on Facebook, Twitter and our YouTube channel. Thanks for sharing your precious time with
us. Have a super weekend and make the week ahead
a healthy, profitable and productive one. [Music].

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