How To Invest In Retirement To Live A Comfortable Life [7 Simple Strategies]

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In this post, you’re going to learn how to invest in retirement and live a life without financial worries.

For a healthy retirement, you need to have enough money at the time of retirement. 

Whether you’re employed or going to retire, the spending needs don’t go anywhere.

You need a fair sum of money that can provide you with income as long as you’re expected to live. 

But most people are unable to invest enough for retirement. 

According to Annuity.org:

  • On average women’s have $23,000 in  retirement savings while men’s have $76,000 which is not enough. 
  • Only 16% women and 30% men’s have retirement savings of over $250,000. And 31% of women and 20% of men have less than $10,000 in retirement savings.

According to CNBC:

  • 15% of Americans have nothing saved for retirement.

In this article, you’re going to learn how to invest in retirement with different investment strategies. This will help you avoid financial tension after retirement.

Here is the exact breakdown: 

Why is investing in retirement important?

There are a number of reasons why you should invest in retirement. 

Here are some common reasons: 

Big money

You become able to compile a big amount of money. This is because whatever you invest for retirement is subjected to the effect of compound interest. For example, if you invest $10,000 at 8% return each year at 22 and you retire at 62. You’ll get $1,295,282 at the time of retirement. Which is enough to earn a steady stream of return if you invest properly after retirement.

Tax advantage

You can avoid or minimize the tax if you utilize 401K, IRA, Roth IRA, or tax-deferred retirement account. You can defer tax on your savings return or not pay at all. They also provide a compounding effect on the investment and minimize your tax for each passing year. These benefits aren’t available on normal saving accounts.

No Financial stress

You get better health without worrying about money. Because not having enough money is the major reason for stress. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, 72% of adults face stress about money. It can be the worry of paying debt or rent. And more on that the stress about money is more toxic to mental and physical health.

Easy debt payment

You can easily pay off your debt if anything remains after retirement. Because you’ll have a large amount of lump sum money. 

You stay independent

You can avoid becoming a burden on your kids. The timely retirement investment will help you cover your medical, traveling, and entertainment costs. You can even support your children’s education.

Expenses get covered

You can easily avoid solely relying on your social security. The reason is your social security covers only 40% of your working income. And financial experts say that you need at least equal to 70% of your income before retirement to live comfortably after retirement. Investment for retirement can help you avoid a financially miserable life.

You can analyze from these benefits how many benefits you can avail if you invest in retirement. In short, you will become financially strong.

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How to invest in retirement? 

Investment in retirement is not rocket science. 

If you properly follow the steps from planning to investing then it becomes so easy.

So let’s dive into the explanation of each step.

Planning before investing in retirement

Before going towards explaining how to invest in retirement, it is important to plan first and then do the rest. There are some simple steps involved in planning. I will give you a brief overview of each one here.

Determine the time frame: In this step, you need to calculate the time period from today to until you retire. 

Why is this important?  

Because how much you get after retirement and how much you need to invest depends on it. How many years are left before you retire will decide whether you invest more or less? 

How to do the planning?

1. Determine your spending’s

In this step, you need to find out the expected amount of money you will spend after retirement. Normally post-retirement spending is less than what you spend currently during working years. 

But still for some people expenses like traveling, buying a house on mortgage, health and medical, and entertainment can raise their spendings. 

According to data retirees need at least 70% to 80% of their working income for meeting their spending needs. This will help you to determine how much you should invest today to meet those needs.

2. Determine net rate of return

When you’ve found out the expected time horizon and spending, now you need to find out how much expected after-tax return you need. 

It means how much return on investment you need on the amount you’ve accumulated until retirement. 

But remember this calculation needs to be realistic. For example, if you’re expecting an amount of $1.5 million then from there onwards if you expect a return of 5% that is real, but above 10% that is not a realistic approach and needs a lot more risk to be covered. 

3. Asset allocation and risk

In this step, you’ll determine in which assets you should invest today and how much risk is there. In this step, you can identify the different assets like stocks, bonds, saving accounts and life insurance, etc where you can invest money.

Along with that you also need to determine how much risk you can face? 

Riskier investments often have higher returns while the non-riskier ones have low. And by age group, risk-taking varies. For example, if you’re in your 20s or 30s you can face the investment in riskier assets like stocks but if you’re over 50 you can’t. Because at a young age you can cover investment losses more easily due to enough time.

4. Create your portfolio

When you’re complete with all the above steps now you start investing your money. Here you create a portfolio of assets. 

Those assets can be stocks, bonds, mutual funds, 401k or IRA, and many more. 

But remember one thing with different classes of assets the risk of losing money also varies and so the return. Therefore you need to examine how much risk you can afford. Along with that, you need to create a portfolio that is diversified so you can avoid maximum risk. 

5. Regularly examine your investment

Last but not the least, you need to regularly analyze your investment portfolio and make changes or updates to it. Adjust your spending and income in it so it remains on track to help you secure your retirement financial goals. 

If you want more information on how to do retirement planning here are some awesome articles.

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Choosing the investment option 

After doing your retirement planning the next step is choosing an investment option. For retirement, there are multiple investment opportunities available with variable returns and time frames. 

Here you’re going to learn about 10 investing options for retirement. 

1. Retirement plans

401k retirement plan

The 401k retirement plans are offered by employers to their employees. In these plans, the employer contributes a matching amount as the employee contributes. Usually, it is up to 3% of annual income. 

For example, you earn $100,000 a year and then your employer contributes $3000 (3%). And for getting more advantage you should contribute an equal amount of $3000. 

These funds are managed by financial services firms where the employer registers.

According to statistics, 401k plans are the most available plan for retirement in the USA. But still, only 32% of Americans don’t invest money in it. 

If your employer offers that kind of plan then go for it and start investing as soon as possible. Investing early in this plan will give more time for your money to grow into a big sum. 

You can invest in it after 50 but if you’re in your 20s or 30s then it is a golden opportunity. 

Along with that it also helps you earn free money from your employer. Because he contributes the same amount of money to match with your investment to provide you more benefit.

In 2021 the maximum amount of money under the 50s can contribute is $19,500/year while over 50s can contribute $26,000/year. 

But one tip to remember is that you should diversify your 401k investment portfolio. It allows you to lower the risk. Try to invest in a stock, bonds, and mutual funds in a balanced amount. 

Traditional IRA

Traditional IRA is a retirement plan you can utilize if you’re self-employed or your employer is not offering 401k. Here you invest a portion of pretax income that grows tax-deferred and when you withdraw money then you will be charged tax at the rate of the current income tax rate. 

There are certain limitations to how much you can contribute to this plan. As of 2021 policy if you’re under 50 years of age then you can contribute $6000 and if over 50 then $7000. 

Because the limit to invest in a traditional IRA per year is limited therefore you need to start investing as early as possible. 

Roth IRA

Roth IRA is another retirement plan that works just like traditional IRA but with the only difference of post-tax dollars. This means you invest your income after tax therefore there is no tax deduction if you withdraw money from Roth IRA (while following the rules). 

In this retirement plan, you can’t contribute more than $6000 if you’re under 50 and not more than $7000 if you’re over 50. Along with that, the total contributions can’t exceed $140,000 for individuals and $208,000 for couples. 

If you want a tax-free way for investing in retirement then Roth IRA is the best option. 

2. Purchase bonds

Bonds are debt securities issued by either government called treasury bonds and companies called corporate bonds. 

They pay a steady rate of interest on your invested principal amount and return your principal amount at completion of maturity.

If you want a fixed rate of return or income for a specified long-term period bonds are a great investment option. You can either buy treasury bonds or corporate bonds, the choice is yours. 

But remember there is risk associated with corporate bonds. So while purchasing you need to consider that in mind. And if you go for treasury bonds then luckily there is no risk associated because they are backed by government security.

Because treasury bonds are risk-free that’s why there is a lower rate of return but no worry of loss. But in corporate bonds, the companies with good bond ratings from top rating agencies like Moody’s and Standard & Poor have low return rates while those with bad ratings have high return rates. 

When you go investing in bonds you must analyze four factors:

  • Type of bond ( corporate or treasury)
  • Risk associated with it
  • Maturity date
  • Rate of return it offer

The reason is every bond is not suitable for every investor. Some investors can bear the higher risk with a higher returns while the others are risk-averse.

3. Invest in mutual funds

If you don’t want to personally manage your investment then mutual funds are a great option. 

What is a mutual fund?

It is simply a collection of investments from the public and other investors which is managed by professional investment managers. It is invested in different securities like stocks, bonds, marketable securities, and physical assets to generate returns and get a capital gain.

There are higher-risk mutual funds and low-risk mutual funds. Usually, the funds that invest in treasury bonds and other government marketable securities are low risk while those invested in stocks are high-risk mutual funds.

While investing in mutual funds for retirement purposes you need to get clear on the following factors:

  • How much risk can you tolerate?
  • What rate of fees can you afford?
  • How much time is left until you retire?
  • Which fund to choose that meets your retirement goals?

If you want to get more information on which mutual fund to choose then USN has a post on the 7 best mutual funds for retirement.

4. Invest in closed end funds

Closed-end funds are to some extent similar to mutual funds. 

In closed-end funds, the company generates funds with the help of initial public offerings and then closes the door for raising additional funds. They rely only on what is accumulated in the IPO. After that they list the shares on the stock market for trading.

Why do you invest in closed-end funds?

If you want to seek professional management of a portfolio to generate income for retirement then it is the solution. 

CEF provides a higher return as compared with the open-end fund. And they are also safer due to a well-diversified portfolio. 

The return may vary. It can be zero and can be over 10% depending on the market and how it is managed. 

5. Buy rental properties

If you want to invest for the long term to get a steady stream of cash flow then rental properties are another best option.

Here you earn income by buying real estate properties like a building or houses that you can give on a monthly rent basis. Depending on how many properties you’ve purchased and how much rent you collect can help you meet your retirement income goals.

The beauty of this business is that you can either purchase the property using equity as well as with debt and equity mix. Low-interest debt and equity are a good mix if you have a low amount of investment.

But before you go for rental properties you should first examine your retirement goals, expected spendings, and how many properties you need to buy. Along with that, taking knowledge about this field and locations where you want to invest is also important.

If you invest properly you can easily generate a 7 to 10% return annually.

Here is a comprehensive blog post to help you learn more about investing in rental properties.

6. Invest in stocks 

The stock market is the highest performer as compared to T-bills and gold over the last 50 years time frame. Stocks give more return over investment while covering the inflation. 

So if you know about trading and investing in stocks and can gain knowledge about it then nothing better than investing in stocks. 

Most people hesitate to invest in stocks because of risk aversion.

According to research, 39% of Americans aren’t investing in the stock market because they simply don’t want to take higher risks.

If you invest in stocks there are two ways you can take benefit: 

  • Capital gain

Over time the stocks of best-performing companies rise in value. And you can buy and sell them at different price levels to increase your stock capital. 

  • Dividend 

The second one is the dividend which is simply a cut of profit distributed to shareholders. It is also a good choice to get a steady stream of income.

There are different ways you can invest in the stock market:

  • Investing through stocks mutual funds
  • Through exchange traded funds (ETFs)
  • Investing and trading yourself
  • Investing in individual stocks
  • Index funds

But going for stocks you must need to have a basic knowledge of stocks and have some analysis of risk and return. As a beginner, you don’t invest more than 10% of your retirement fund in stocks.

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7. Get hands on annuities

If you can’t manage your money for an expected life after retirement and usually that is a difficult thing. You can buy an annuity that provides you a steady stream of income for a specified period of time and helps you avoid the longevity risk. 

Annuities fall into different categories: 

Immediate annuity

In this annuity, your payments start immediately after you pay the lump sum or a portion of your investment. Usually from the first month. 

Deferred annuity

In this annuity, your payment or lump sum is given after a specified period of time when you want. Like after a one year, or 5 years as the investor likes.

Fixed annuity

Here you get a fixed amount of annuity payment each month irrespective of how your investment performs. For example $500 a month.

Variable annuity

The amount of variable annuities changes over time with respect to how your investment performs. If you get a bad return on it then your payment will be lower but if performs better you get higher in payment.

But before investing in annuities you should consider researching and analyzing different companies and their policies regarding fees and payments. 

If you want information about some of the best companies that offer annuities here is the post from annuity.org.

What are the things to keep in mind? 

Here are the things you need to keep in mind to make sure you don’t make any mistakes. I will discuss them as precautions so that you should avoid costly mistakes.

Let’s discuss them one by one.

1. Planning is important

Planning is the foremost important thing before starting investing for retirement. If you don’t consider planning ahead, you will be making a big mistake.

2. Prepare your budget

Create an expected retirement budget in advance. Consider your current income and expenses into account to help you make a budget after retirement. This will help you identify how much money you need to earn to comfortably live a financially happy life after retirement.

3. Don’t stay conservative

When you’re too far from retirements like 15, 20, 30, or 40 years than staying conservative or too risk-averse is a big mistake. Why? Because at that stage you have an ability to take greater risk and afford it. Therefore putting all of your investment for retirement in a low risk or risk-free and low return investment is a bad decision. 

You should put at least some amount like 10 to 30% in high risk and high return investments like stocks. This will not only help you make greater profits but also cover inflation and grow your money fast.

Likewise, if you’re near your retirement then putting a large sum of money into a riskier investment is also a bad decision. Because at that time you’re waiting to take the fruits of trees you planted years before. 

Therefore it can hurt your investments for retirement if you place a large sum of your money in high-risk investments. At that time you should behave in a conservative mood to lower risk and avail the required level of cash flow while beating inflation.

4. Don’t ignore inflation

Take into account inflation while investing for retirement. Inflation is a secret and calm predator that slowly eats your money. If there is a 3% inflation then it can eat up around 56% of your money in just 15 years. Therefore try to find investment opportunities with high return rates. 

Normal saving accounts in banks are paying so less as compared with inflation. So go for high yield saving accounts or a well-diversified portfolio of stocks. 

5. Pay off debt

If you’ve any debt obligation then try to pay it as soon as possible. Because it ultimately eats your income in the form of interest payments. Which is holding you back from investing for retirement. Debt usually comes in the form of credit cards, home loans, educational loans, and mortgages. So you should avoid debt.

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6. Maintain emergency fund

Don’t put all your money in the form of investments but also maintain an emergency fund. Why? Because no investment is secure. If you invest in stocks, bonds, or any other real estate sector then you must consider their risks also. 

If you face a loss due to market moves then you must have some spare money to cover expenses. Likewise, If you’re an employee, you can lose your job. There are health issues you need to take treatment. So having an emergency fund is compulsory. 

But this doesn’t mean that you don’t invest enough. Just set aside 6 months to 1 year of your monthly income for emergency needs. 

7. Get employer benefits

Avail of the benefits that your employer is giving in the form of 401k, 403b, and IRA. Whether you’re a government employee or any private company, employers offer a matching amount of investment to these retirement plans. If you take on this opportunity it will grow your wealth faster and get a big sum at the time of retirement. 

You also get a tax-deferred advantage over your investment and pay only when you withdraw that amount. It is also safe and easy.

8. Don’t ignore fees

Don’t forget the cost of the fund in which you’re investing. Usually, retirement funds cost you 0 to 1% annual fee but over a longer time period like 30 to 40 years, it compiles into hundreds and thousands of dollars. So whether you’re investing in a 401k, IRA, or mutual fund you should go for zero or low fee investment funds.

Now you’ve learned how to invest in retirement while choosing the best investment. There are some frequently asked questions, so let’s jump to the next section.

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Frequently asked questions? 

How can I invest $100,000 for retirement?

There are several smart ways you can invest $100k for retirement. Some of the most popular ones include: 

  • Stock market ( for capital gain and dividend )
  • Real estate ( land or rental properties )
  • Crypto currency ( but a portion of that amount like 10% or 15% ) 
  • Mutual funds and high yield saving accounts are also a great option

If you want more information on this here is a great post from Money Under 30.

Where is the safest place to put your retirement money?

The safest places include treasury bonds and well good rating corporate bonds. Along with that saving accounts with reasonable returns and fixed annuities are also good options. But remember there is no investment that is 100% secure. To some extent, the risk is there.

How should a 60 years old invest?

As an elder investor or retiree, you should consider safe or low-risk investment options. Therefore the best choices are treasury bonds, saving accounts, annuities, and other low-risk instruments. At that stage of age you can’t overcome losses easily as you can at a young age.

At what age do most people retire?

This varies from country to country. But it is a common situation that when people go above 50 they get tired of working 9 to 5. And therefore the average retirement age for males is 64 while for females is 62. 

How do I know if I’m ready to retire?

Whether you’re ready for retirement or not depends on different factors. Your health, savings or investment for retirement, and job terms and conditions. Usually, if you’ve enough investment for retirement and generate income to meet your expected budget needs then you’re considered ready for taking retirement.

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Conclusion 

Retiring in a way that you’ve enough money to live onwards is important.

If you take simple strategies to work for you then you can easily avoid after retirement financial problems.

Let’s summarize all the strategies of how to invest in retirement:

  • Utilize retirement plans
  • Purchase bonds
  • Invest in mutual funds
  • Invest in closed end funds
  • Buy rental properties
  • Invest in stocks
  • Get hands on annuities

If you’ve any other strategy in mind tell me in your comments below.

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Ahmad Ali