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What Are Your Retirement Plans?

Planning for retirement can be overwhelming because your financial future and legacy likely depend on it and because there are so many variables to consider.

One of the biggest risks an investor faces is running out of money in retirement. This can happen when investors don’t adequately plan for retirement. People may work their whole lives, believing they are saving enough money for a comfortable retirement, only to live longer than they had originally planned or face higher prices on common retiree purchases, such as hospital services or a grandchild’s education. To help minimise this risk, you should begin the process of retirement planning sooner rather than later.

Depending on your circumstances, your working salary alone may not be enough to enjoy a comfortable retirement or achieve your long-term goals. You may need to invest your savings and set a long-term retirement plan. The earlier in life you recognise this need, the more you can increase your chances of enjoying more freedom and flexibility in your later years.

There are many factors to consider when planning for retirement. Many of these factors can be boiled down to some fundamental areas. We explore these below to help you enhance the effectiveness of your retirement planning.

Long-Term Financial Goals

Establishing a primary objective for your portfolio is an important step. It can help you create a roadmap for your investing and retirement strategy.

What do you wish to do with your retirement? Will you pursue a lifelong passion you have been too busy to commit to during your working life? Perhaps you wish to travel, or to invest time and money in your grandchildren? Maybe you don’t want to fully retire and would rather continue to work part-time?

However you want to spend your retirement, it is crucial to understand your goals and begin retirement planning. Here are some potential retirement planning and investing goals to consider:

  • Avoid running out of money
    Running out of money is a common fear in retirement planning. While this may seem like a conservative goal, it does not mean it you should follow a conservative approach to investing focusing only on low-volatility investments, as you may require portfolio growth to achieve this goal.
  • Maintain or improve lifestyle
    Most people want to at least maintain the same lifestyle they have become accustomed to. However, to achieve this goal, you need to maintain or grow your purchasing power over time, meaning your portfolio and income growth must at least keep pace with inflation to prevent it from eating into your purchasing power over time.
  • Increase wealth
    You may wish to increase your wealth over the long-term in order to pass remaining funds to your children, grandchildren, other beneficiaries or even a charity. If this is the case, your retirement planning may focus more heavily on portfolio growth than the previous two options.
  • Spend it all
    Some even gear their retirement planning towards spending every penny. However, you should be aware that this goal is risky since there is no way to know exactly how long your retirement will last. If not done carefully, you may find yourself running out of money sooner than you had hoped.

Investment Time Horizon

Once you’ve established your goals, your investment time horizon is the next consideration for your retirement plan. However, retirement investors commonly underestimate their investment time horizon, because most retirees can reasonably expect to live longer than any generation that has preceded them.

When planning your retirement, it is not enough to assume your investment time horizon should just last your projected lifespan. You also have to consider your spouse’s projected life expectancy—which may be longer than your own—any dependents you have and any necessary legacy planning. All of these factors have to come together to create a comprehensive investment time horizon for your retirement plan.

The Impact of Withdrawals

Investors often have unrealistic expectations about how much money they can sustainably withdraw from their portfolio throughout retirement. Many assume they can withdraw as much as the annualised rate of return from their account without drawing down their principal, but this does not account for the fact that the actual return in a given year can be well above or below the average.

Withdrawing more than your account generates, especially when your portfolio is down, may shorten its sustainability and reduce the probability that you achieve your long-term goals. This scenario can have consequences, potentially meaning you have to change your lifestyle or your goals.

Inflation and Tax

Inflation is the rate at which the prices of goods and services rise over time. Long-term, this affects your purchasing power—the amount of goods or services that your money can buy. This means in order to maintain your current lifestyle you may need to increase your cash flow over time. Your money today is not worth what it was 10 years ago, and it may be worth even less in another 10, 20 or 30 years' time. Your retirement planning strategy needs to account for this factor.

Understanding Trade-Offs

The level of cash flow you require in retirement combined with your portfolio growth objective may require certain trade-offs to minimise the risk of running out of money. You may have to tolerate equities’ higher short-term volatility to capture their higher long-term returns and remain disciplined enough to endure fluctuations without steering off course from your overarching retirement strategy. Your retirement planning strategy should help you clearly understand what is affordable and realistic in the context of your long-term goals. Depending on your financial situation, you may have to balance your cash flow needs—such as discretionary purchases, living expenses, and desired income—against your return expectations. It is also important to remember that many of these outgoings will change overtime. Understanding these trade-offs will help you work toward your goals.

The Key to a Good Retirement is Planning

While there are many important questions to ask when approaching retirement, a few of the most common questions are the following:

  • What are your goals for retirement?
  • Do you plan to leave a legacy or pay for the education/housing needs of grandchildren?
  • Have you factored inflation into your retirement planning?
  • How long will you and your partner need income?
  • How will your spending habits change over that time?
  • What impact will withdrawals have on your retirement investment portfolio?
  • Do you need retirement planning advice and information from experts?

Your retirement planning should be built around a fundamental understanding of the above factors and, hopefully, a desire to work towards retirement by starting your planning now. 

Fisher Investments Canada can help you answer some of these questions and begin your retirement planning journey. To learn more, download any of our guides or speak with one of our qualified representatives today.

Investing in stock markets involves the risk of loss and there is no guarantee that all or any capital invested will be repaid. Past performance neither guarantees nor reliably indicates future performance.