Approximately 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age every day, according to data from Pew Research Center, and right now can be a daunting time to retire.
The stock market has experienced unprecedented volatility over the past year, and nobody knows what the future has in store. However, if you're planning on retiring in 2021, there are a few moves you can make to ensure your retirement is as comfortable as possible.
1. Consider whether your savings could survive a market downturn
Back in March, the S&P 500 fell by a staggering 34% in just a matter of weeks. Although it rebounded remarkably quickly, there's no telling whether another market downturn is on the horizon -- particularly as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase.
Take a look at how your investments are allocated, and assess your risk level. If the vast majority of your portfolio is allocated toward stocks, that could put your savings at risk if there's another market downturn. A safer bet would be to adjust your asset allocation so that your portfolio leans more heavily on bonds and other more conservative investments rather than stocks.
Although your investments won't grow quite as much when you invest conservatively, your savings will also be more protected against market downturns.
2. Understand how much of your savings you can withdraw each year
Once you retire, your savings should ideally last the rest of your life -- or at least as long as possible. This is particularly important right now, because if you retire and then realize your savings won't last long, you may not be able to find another job to supplement your retirement income.
One way to ensure your savings last longer is to make sure you know how much you can safely withdraw from your retirement fund each year. One common rule of thumb is the 4% rule, which states that you can withdraw 4% of your savings during the first year of retirement, then adjust your withdrawals each year after that to account for inflation. By following this guideline, your savings should last approximately 30 years.
The 4% rule isn't perfect, but it can give you a rough estimate of how much you should withdraw each year to avoid burning through your savings too quickly.
3. Figure out how you'll spend all your free time
When you've been working for most of your life, you might have a long list of bucket-list activities you can't wait to enjoy once you retire. But keep in mind that you may spend several decades in retirement, and it's easy to run out of things to do after the first year or so.
In addition, depending on how long the COVID-19 pandemic lasts, you may not be able to safely travel, dine out with friends, or enjoy other social hobbies once you retire. For that reason, it's a good idea to come up with a game plan for how you'll spend your free time if you end up stuck in the house all day.
Retirement is an exciting period in life, but it's important to ensure you're prepared for it. Although it can be a tricky time to retire, by taking these steps, you can enjoy your senior years to the fullest regardless of what the future holds.
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