Category Archives: Retirement

Retirement hysteria strikes again

It must be that time of the year again. Retirement hysteria time. Usually in the new year I start seeing a slew of articles on how your retirement is at risk, how you cannot possibly retire now, and the theme for the last few years – how high stock market valuations and low interest rates will guarantee that either you are going to work forever or you are going to retire with a much lower living standard. This time the offending piece was in Kiplinger’s of all places, which was brought to my attention by one my weekly econ reads, … Continue reading

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Brief survey of expected return forecasts – nothing new

About once a year I go through various future expected return forecasts. Here are some recent updates on what the investment community is saying about future asset class returns, most of them focused on US stock returns, over the next 10 years. In short, nothing really new from last year, expect future returns to be lower, but worth a review Lets start with the folks at Research Affiliates. Here’s the scatter plot from their most recent update on forecasted 10 year real returns for various global asset classes. There’s various ways to look at the data which you can play … Continue reading

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Retirement spending revisited – live a little why don’t you…

Today I wanted to revisit the topic of spending in retirement. Having a retirement spending plan and monitoring that plan is just as important to retirement success as asset allocation or deciding on safe withdrawal rates (SWRs). Yet, it’s not discussed nearly as much as the other retirement topics. And most retirees don’t do it. I’ve talked about retirement spending in the past on the blog, from a personal anecdotal perspective, and from the overall perspective for all retirees, both questioning the conventional wisdom. The conventional wisdom models retiree spending as being adjusted for inflation, as measured by CPI (Consumer … Continue reading

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A myopic focus on investment returns is bad for your wealth

Compounded annual returns are the crack of the investment world. Wall Street is the pusher and investors are the addicts. Investment companies and investors focus on the annual return metric as the most important in a portfolio to the long term detriment of most investors. This myopic focus on annual returns is bad for investors’ wealth wether they are in the wealth building phase or the withdrawal phase of their investment lives. Lets look at how bad and expensive this unhealthy obsession can be. First, lets look at the case of the investor building future wealth. In a world where … Continue reading

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Back to basics: diversified buy and hold portfolios

I often get asked “how do I get started with an investment portfolio?”. The best answer, but not very helpful, is to learn about building and investing in a diversified buy and hold portfolio for the long term. A very true statement but it usually leaves the investor still looking for answers. In this post I plan to be much more helpful in providing guidance for investors either looking to get started or for investors looking for a better approach to building investment portfolios than what they are using now. For this post I will rely heavily on a new book … Continue reading

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Poor future returns and the safety first approach

In today’s post I want to address another approach to dealing with the prospect of poor future returns. In my last post I described the prospect of poor future returns and different risk-based portfolio strategies in such an environment. Today I’ll consider an alternative. The alternatives are various dedicated income approaches that put the retirement income stream at the top of the priority list. For the most part these approaches have been documented only in obscure research papers but thanks to a few retirement researchers that is starting to change. Let’s take a look at some of these safety-first approaches. … Continue reading

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What to do about poor future returns

There’s been a lot of chatter recently about asset valuations, in particular US stocks and US bonds, and their impact of future returns. This is nothing new. It just seems to get louder at the start of every new year. I’ve discussed this topic before on the blog. Last time here. Basically, my point was that we may indeed, in fact it’s probable, be facing poor future returns – a least for the next 10 years, but that doesn’t mean that the 4% SWR rule is dead. In fact the 4% SWR implies even worse returns than people are forecasting … Continue reading

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Revisiting the worst times to retire in history (2014 update)

Time for another one of those yearly updates. In this post I’ll update the data for the worst times in history to retire by adding 2014 data to the 4 worst retirement portfolios in history. See here for last year’s update. The worst time to retire since 1929 turns out not to be the Great Depression, as most people would believe. In fact, the worst time to retire in history was 1966, followed by the Great Depression year of 1929. The SWR (safe withdrawal rate) of 4.39% for a 70% stock 30% bond portfolio is solely determined by the retirement … Continue reading

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Maybe you should be in 100% cash

This post has nothing to do with asset prices, valuation, or timing the market as the title may have led you to believe. It has to do with investor psychology and behavior. Over the years I’ve wondered if certain types of people would be happier if they didn’t invest in anything but cash. Not ‘better off’ mind you just happier and still able to meet their financial goals – like a successful happy retirement. Then I said, “I have the data for that analysis”. Let’s take a look at the kind of people I’m talking about. You’ll probably see a bit of … Continue reading

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Future returns and their impact on SWRs

Today I wanted to talk about the forecasting of future returns and more importantly what implications future returns have for SWRs (Safe Withdrawal Rates). As I showed in my last post, the first 10 year period real return in retirement is the best predictor of SWRs for 30 year retirement periods. Thus by creating a model for returns for the next 10 years based on where assets are priced today we can get a better idea as to the applicability of the traditional 4% SWR for future retirees. There’s a been lot of discussion over the last couple of years in the financial blogosphere … Continue reading

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