These 2 Things Could Upend Your Retirement. Here’s How to Protect Yourself

These 2 Things Could Upend Your Retirement. Here’s How To Protect Yourself

Many people spend years planning and saving for retirement. But in the course of your planning, you might forget to account for certain factors that throw your finances off course. Here are two specific things that could upend your retirement — and what to do about them.

1. Inflation

Inflation has been wreaking havoc on seniors this year in particular. But even during periods of more moderate inflation, seniors can easily find themselves losing buying power from year to year.

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Part of the problem has to do with Social Security — or, more specifically, the fact that its annual cost-of-living adjustments commonly fail to keep pace with inflation. As such, if you don’t want inflation to ruin your retirement, make it a point to have income outside of Social Security. If you build yourself a solid nest egg, you’ll have extra money to tap at times when your Social Security benefits just aren’t keeping up.

At the same time, make sure to keep a portion of your savings invested in stocks during retirement. You may be inclined to favor safer, more conservative investments during that stage of life, and that’s fine. But dumping your stocks completely could stunt your portfolio’s growth at a time in your life when you need it to help you keep up with inflation.

2. A stock market crash

Even if you’ve shifted away from stocks ahead of retirement, a prolonged market downturn could be a source of serious financial stress. And it’s hard to say how often the market will crash in the course of your retirement, and how lengthy and extreme each dip you experience will be.

The solution? First, make sure your assets are allocated appropriately for your age so that you’re not too heavily loaded with stocks. If you’re in your 60s, you may want to limit your stock holdings to 50% of your portfolio.

It’s also a good idea to choose investments that pay you consistently, as those could help offset losses in your portfolio. Dividend stocks and municipal bonds can both be a great source of steady income, during good times for the stock market and bad. But in the latter scenario, getting that consistent income could make it so you don’t have to sell off investments when they’re down and lock in permanent losses.

One thing to keep in mind is that companies that pay dividends have the right to change those payments, or halt them, as they see fit. So if you want more of a guaranteed income stream, you may want to favor municipal bonds.

Granted, bond issuers could, in an extreme scenario, default on the interest payments they’re obligated to make. But at least that obligation is there, whereas companies aren’t obligated to pay dividends.

Be prepared for different curveballs

Even if you do your best to plan well for retirement, you never know when inflation or an underperforming stock market might mess with your plans. But if you take steps to account for those scenarios, you might manage to avoid a lot of the financial stress so many seniors face.

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