Your Retirement Welcome to the second edition of Your Retirement , our monthly web-newsletter with information and education that can help you with your retirement planning efforts. Feel free to use this information and to also pass it along to your friends and associates. If you are interested in additional information that can help you, be sure to check out our web site retirementplanningconsultants.com or contact Robert R. Julian, at [email_address] . ® RETIREMENT PLANNING CONSULTANTS A Guide To Your Retirement Planning - Volume 1 - Number 2
In This Issue:
Twelve Time-Tested Core Saving – Investing Principles: Principle #2: Buy Only What You Understand
What You Should Know: Benchmarking: How Well Have Your Mutual Funds Performed Against A Benchmark?
A Question To Ask Yourself :
- How Much Money Can I Withdraw From My Retirement Nest Egg In Retirement?
- What Can You Learn From A Little Research?
A Retirement Diary : The Loss Of Work In Retirement
Sandy The Smart Saver : Are You Taking Full Advantage Of Your Tax-Deferred Plan At Work?
Quick Takes :
- Cash Out Of Your 401(k)? No!!!
- Retirement Myth
Stock Market – Investment Humor
Coming In the May Issue : Social Security: It’s Time To Fix The Problems
Saving – Investing For Retirement---Twelve Time-Tested Core Principles In our March Newsletter we offered Principle #1 – Stocks (Stock Mutual Funds) offer the best opportunity to participate in the long-term growth of the economy . Here is Principle #2- Buy Only What You Understand Many investors chase hot stocks and funds believing that they are doing “research.” Spend time to learn the basics of investing. Don’t invest anything until you have taken the time to investigate and are comfortable with what you are doing. It sounds simple but consider the number of people who poured billions of dollars into tech stocks – funds in the late 1990s without really knowing what they were buying. As we found out in 2000 - 2002, every technology stock/fund will not deliver outstanding returns. April 2004 Should you really chase the latest tip, a “red hot IPO” or should you invest in solid companies with “real earnings”? Know what you are buying and why you are buying it. Know what you own and why you own it. If you don’t really understand what a company does, don’t invest in it. And, if you can’t explain what you are buying (own) to someone so that they understand it, perhaps you shouldn’t put your money there. The danger in abandoning your investment discipline is that you then have no discipline. It all sounds very simple but consider this--Las Vegas is busy every day--so, we know everyone is not rational. Good informational sites for beginners - even experienced investors on the internet are-- www.better investing.org and www.fool.com . What You Should Know: Benchmarking: How Well Have Your Mutual Funds Performed Against A Benchmark? Every month, for many of us, a specific amount or money is deducted from our paycheck and directly deposited into an investment vehicle (mutual funds) that we have selected in our efforts to build our retirement nest egg. Some of us are very happy with the return we receive on our investment---some are semi-happy, some semi-unhappy, some unhappy. As a mutual fund investor, there are some tools available that can help you to gauge the performance of your funds. These tools are known as benchmarks. A benchmark is a target that allows you to compare your investments’ performance against a composite of similar investments. It’s a way to measure how well your mutual fund investments are doing. Unfortunately, not too many of us use benchmarks.
Benchmarking is crucial to evaluating not only your present holdings but to also evaluate prospective investments and to measure success. It’s essential to compare your returns to a benchmark to examine whether your investment strategy is working. It is crucial to truly understand how well your investments are performing and that is why benchmark comparisons are necessary. You don’t have to settle for less than satisfactory performance . You don’t have to be an experienced investor to find out which benchmark you should be using. Must mutual fund prospectuses, annual reports, statements of additional information (SAIs) list the comparable index, usually in the “investment objective” section. You can call your advisor or mutual fund company and ask what benchmark the fund company uses to measure its performance. You can then ask how that benchmark has performed over the past 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 years. Or, you can do your own research on the internet. The following is a list of some major market indexes, along with a brief description of what segment of the market each one measures. Please keep in mind that these unmanaged indexes are not available for direct investment and are subject to change, depending on market conditions. Stock Indexes Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA ) The most widely known index of U.S. stocks, the DJIA (also known as the “Dow”) tracks 30 large, actively traded blue-chip stocks. This index indicates how shares of the largest U.S. companies are performing, but is not commonly used as a benchmark for mutual funds because it does not give an accurate representation of the overall market. Standard & Poor’s 500 Composite Index(S&P 500) * The S&P 500 is an index of stocks chosen by Standard and Poor’s based on industry representation, liquidity, and stability. The S&P 500 is composed of some of the nation’s largest companies, and is designed to reflect the returns of many different sectors of the U.S. stock market. NASDAQ Composite The Nasdaq Composite Index measures all domestic and non-U.S. based common stocks listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market. This index contains over 5,000 stocks, and is driven by a handful of technology-oriented companies. -2- Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index The Wilshire 5000 Market Index tracks the returns of practically all publicly traded U.S. stocks (currently about 7,000 stocks). Russell 2000 Index The Russell 2000 is one of the better known indexes used to measure the performance of U.S. small company stocks. Bond Indexes Lehman Brothers Government Bond Index This index measures all publicly issued bonds issued by the U.S. government or its agencies with maturities of over one year (eg: Treasury Bonds). Lehman Brothers Credit Bond Index This index measures all publicly issued, investment grade corporate bonds. Lehman Brothers Gov’t/Credit Bond Index This index combines the two bond indexes listed above. It is comprised of approximately 55% government bonds and 45% corporate bonds. Lehman Brothers IntermediateGov’t/Credit Bond Index This index is a subset of the Lehman Brothers Gov’t/Credit Bond Index, and measures bonds with maturities of between one and ten years. Lehman Brothers Aggregate Bond Index This index combines the Lehman Brothers Gov’t/Credit Bond Index with mortgage and asset-backed securities. All bonds in this index have maturities of over one year. When you evaluate your mutual fund in relation to its benchmark, remember to consider performance over a period of time that is similar to your time frame. You may also want to review recent performance and a time frame such as 5 – 10 or more years to see how well your fund(s) have performed in the current market environment and historically over different market cycles. One additional note---the return of your fund(s) will inevitably go above or below the benchmark in any given year. The important factor should be---whether you are accumulating enough dollars over time that counts. Investors often use the S&P 500 index for their investments, but not always correctly. Example: it would not be an appropriate benchmark for judging performance of small-cap funds. However, it can be interesting to benchmark the funds you own against the S&P 500 index. This would give you an idea of how well your choices have performed against a specific index.
A good number of experts say that you should check your funds versus their benchmarks on an annual basis. They add that any fund that consistently under performs its benchmark by more than one or two percentage points, annualized, should be put on a “watch” list or sold. Some suggest that you should not dump a fund until you are dissatisfied with its relative performance for a year---some suggest a longer waiting period. You can---but you don’t have to settle for less than satisfactory performance .
A Question To Ask Yourself: How Much Money Can I Withdraw From My Retirement Nest Egg In Retirement?
An extremely important part of your retirement planning should be devoted to knowing how much money you can afford to withdraw each year in retirement. Withdraw too little and that could mean a retirement devoid of much enjoyment. Withdraw too much could mean a retirement devoid of much enjoyment in your last years .
Some of the problems? Too many investors---
underestimate how long they will live.
overestimate future returns on their investments.
don’t factor in the impact of declining markets on their portfolio.
don’t factor in the impact of inflation on their spending
In some respects, careful planning and monitoring of your assets is even more critical than during your “saving” years because there is less time to recover from mistakes that you may make. Your goal is to minimize the risk that you will outlive your retirement nest egg. Your spending needs will be the primary factor in developing your plan. A good number of the experts suggest that you set this amount at 3% - 4% of your retirement portfolio at the time of your retirement. This will improve the possibility that your assets will last through your retirement.
For many retirees, 4% isn’t enough unless you have a million-dollar nest egg. Even that would only yield $40,000 a year. New York City financial planner Gary Schatsky states, “At 4% I can give clients a 99.97% chance of outliving their money, but an equal assurance that they will be miserable.”
Many believe that their retirement will last for about 20 – 30 years---they significantly underestimate the averages. There is the likelihood that you will live beyond the averages . A man who lives to age 65 has a 63% chance of living to age 80 and a 20% chance of living to age 90. A woman who lives to 65 has a 32% chance of reaching age 90 and a 13%
chance of living to age 95. If the 65 year olds are married, there is a 45% chance that one of them will live to age 90. (Society of Actuaries 2000 Mortality Tables) There are many formulas and calculators that you can use to plan your withdrawals. Many investors use historical average market returns as a guide to the kinds of returns they can expect. However, those figures can be misleading. Example: even though the market earned an average of about 11% per year for the past 30 years, there was significant market volatility during that period. The S&P 500 Index never earned exactly 11% in any of the past 30 years. Its returns over that period ranged from a high of 37% in 1995 to a low of -26% in 1974. Most experts will tell you that when you start taking withdrawals is just as important as how much you take. In your first years, whether the market surging or slumping can make a big difference. What is the right percentage for you to withdraw? Three academics from Trinity University---Professors Philip Cooley, Carl Hubbard, Daniel Witz---examined this topic by looking at the historical annual returns for stocks and bonds from 1926 - 1995. What did the study find? The need for conservative withdrawal rates and by implication, the need to accumulate an adequate nest egg to fund a comfortable retirement. Withdrawal periods longer than 15 years dramatically reduced the probability of success at withdrawal rates exceeding 5 percent. They also concluded that younger retirees who anticipate longer payout periods should plan on lower withdrawal rates. They also concluded that owning bonds decreases the likelihood of going broke for lower to mid-level withdrawal rates. And, most retirees would benefit with at least a 50 percent allocation to stocks. Retirees who desire inflation-adjusted withdrawals must accept a substantially reduced withdrawal rate from the initial portfolio. Most studies of this topic point to a "safe" withdrawal rate between 4 percent to 6 percent of the average retiree's starting portfolio. When you withdraw above 5 percent, you increase the probability that you will be without funds in your lifetime. The studies also agree that when you have bonds in your portfolio, they provide a measure of stability that you do not find in an all-stock portfolio. How long your funds will last in part depends on the returns you are earning. The table below demonstrates how long a hypothetical $100,000 retirement fund will last, depending on how much you withdraw each year and what percentage you're earning on your investments. -3-
-4- This chart assumes no price fluctuation and a single withdrawal at the start of each year, at 4% annual inflation, not including the first year you invest. To customize this chart, divide your savings by $100,000. Multiply the resulting figure times the yearly withdrawals. Source: Caterpillar Investment Management Ltd. The table assumes that your withdrawals will increase each year to keep pace with a 4% projected rate of inflation. Let's say you have $100,000 when you retire, which is invested at 8% annually. If you take $10,000 from your account at the beginning of the first year and take $10,000 each subsequent year adjusted for inflation, you will run out of money in about 12 years. The table can be applied to any type of investment vehicle -- 401(k)s, IRAs or general savings. However, don't forget that even if your accounts have grown on a tax-deferred basis (such as 401(k)s and IRAs), you may still pay income tax on the withdrawals after retirement. So, allow for income taxes as one of your post-retirement expenses. The Cooley, Hubbard, Walz study highlights the need for conservative withdrawal rates and by implication, the need to accumulate an adequate nest egg to fund a comfortable retirement. Historical back testing is a useful tool and provides a “sanity check.” But, like any modeling tool, it has its limitations. There is still a need for very conservative assumptions if the retiree wishes to have a high probability of success. The Cooley, Hubbard and Walz study is entitled “Retirement Savings: Choosing A Withdrawal Rate That is Sustainable.” Question To Ask Yourself? What Can You Learn From A Little Research? A lot of folks have turned to index funds in their efforts to build their retirement nest eggs. Why? They offer disciplined investors a chance to beat the majority of actively managed, large-cap domestic stock funds over the long haul. In a typical year, two-thirds of actively managed domestic stock funds lag their benchmarks. But, all index funds are not equal and they do not report similar results .
Back in February (2/23/2004), I took a look at the S&P 500 index returns. Because I am committed to looking at long-term returns, I wasn’t interested in anything less than 10 year returns. When I took a look at 10 year returns, I found the returns from 37 funds. When I took a look at 15 year returns, I found returns from 5 funds.
The annual rates of return from the five funds are pretty close. But, then I took at look at the fees and expenses from the five funds. What did we find?
Fees and Expenses - Total Expense Ratio
VFINX - 0.18% - with a yearly expense projection for a $10,000 investment of $25.00
FUSEX - 0.19% - with a yearly expense projection for a $10,000 investment of $26.39
TRQIX – 0.25% - with a yearly expense projection for a $10,000 investment of $34.71
EVIIX - 0.32 - with a yearly expense projection for a $10,000 investment of $44.29
SFCSX – 0.67 with an initial load of 5.75% - with a first year expense projection for a $10,000 investment of $662.25
What’s the moral of this story? A good number of funds track the S&P 500 Index. However, they do not all offer the same return. Investors in Morgan Stanley’s S&P 500 Fund currently pay up to 1.5% in fees. At Scudder Investments, the S&P fund charges 1.4% annually. These fees and expenses detract from performance. Every dollar in cost cuts your earnings. Over the long term, investing in higher priced index funds can cost investors thousands of dollars.
Expenses are the only thing you can control in mutual fund investing. Shelden Jacobs, editor of the No-Load Fund Investor---a consumer newsletter, asks the question---“You are buying a commodity. Why shouldn’t you buy it as cheaply as possible.”
First Yearly Years $100,000 will last when invested at yields below Withdrawal 4% 6% 8% 10% $5,000 20 25 36 Forever $10,000 10 11 12 14 $15,000 7 7 8 8 $20,000 5 5 5 6 $25,000 4 4 4 4 Top 5 Results Symbol Fund Name Return VFINX Vanguard Index Trust: Vanguard 500 Index Fund... 11.91% FUSEX Fidelity Concord Street Trust: Spartan US Equ... 11.78% TRQIX SEI Index Funds: S&P 500 Index Portfolio; Cla... 11.77% EVIIX Evergreen Select Equity Trust: Evergreen Equi... 11.26% SFCSX Wells Fargo Funds Trust: Equity Index Fund; C... 11.01%
- 5 - A Retirement Diary The Loss Of Work In Retirement Jim is scheduled to retire in six months. He is the sales manager for a plastics firm. He describes himself as "a workaholic." He just can't seem to nor does he really want to get away from his work. He likes being in the office and on the road talking business, taking orders. At home, at night, he's usually on the phone talking to someone about a new product, an order, a shipment. He's has been into "plastic" for over forty years. Jim is not looking forward to retirement when he reaches 70 in six months. He'd really like to keep working but, even though the law says that he can stay on the job, he keeps getting "unofficial" signals that it's time for him to move into the next stage of life. Jim says that when he thinks about retirement he gets depressed. He has no hobbies and he does not belong to any organizations. Hilda, his wife, is tired of hearing about Jim's upcoming "boring" retirement. In fact, when she thinks about his retirement, she gets depressed . In fact, she's threatening to keep on working when Jim' retires so she won't have to put up with "this stuff" 24 hours a day. An exaggerated situation? No. Jim is like a lot of people who like to work. Whether it comes at a planned moment or whether you get the news in a quick meeting on a Friday afternoon, that time will come. For some, they will happily express, "I won't ever have to work again." For those individuals, a pardon from the governor has arrived. For others, they will unhappily express, "I won't ever have to work again." For those individuals, the door to the jail cell is closing. In the March-April, 1988 issue of the Harvard Business Review, Thomas H. Fitzgerald, the director of organizational planning and development at General Motors, describes his feelings in his article "The Loss of Work: Notes From Retirement.“ His retirement was quick. "The news came suddenly one afternoon. "It was like a traffic accident, I've come to think: one minute you're driving along and the next you're looking up from the pavement. One day I had a wide office, a big desk and management-level chair, my own secretary, even a walnut credenza to hide junk in. The next day I was sitting home in a sweater and corduroys watching the snow fall outside." In the next couple of months Tom experienced what many retirees go through. He didn't hear from the people he worked with, laughed with, argued with, traveled with, had lunch with. He thought that was odd until he realized, "I had done exactly the same to those who had retired before me." Tom felt "curiously disabled." Tom, like Jim, was a workaholic. "For years, work ate up the center of my life, leaving only the crusts. In spite of this--perhaps because of it--I bound myself even tighter to the organization." Tom discovered the paradox of retirement: "the more work taxed you, the more you'll miss it.” The question he faced, and the one that Jim and perhaps you will have to face is this..."Do we simply continue as a `former manager' or do we decide to go on and become something else?" I could give you a lot of questions to answer and maybe some of the answers or point you in the right direction. That might be easy but maybe not exactly the right thing to do. Each of us will arrive at that point in our lives from a different direction, with a different frame of mind, a different reference point and each of us, I think, should really discover those questions and answers on our own. However, I will make one suggestion. Don't put off thinking about retirement until that "quick meeting" on a Friday afternoon or until you "unofficially" discover that it's time to move into the next stage of your life. Tom Fitzgerald describes this a lot better than I could. "Imagine this time as one of life's border crossings, one that brings you to a small clearing--an open space--between arrival and departure. It is a place for quiet conversation with a circle of attentive listeners.“ What will Jim be doing this fall? Who knows? Jim is like a lot of other individuals approaching retirement who see the glass as either being "half empty" or "half full." Maybe I should put him in touch with Tom Fitzgerald. It doesn't have to be a "boring" retirement.
Planning - Saving - Investing For Retirement Sandy Says: Are You Taking Full Advantage of Your Tax-Deferred Plan at Work Cousin Sal adds, “The longer you can shelter your assets from taxes and also keep your investment earnings compounding on a tax-free basis, the sooner you can build up your retirement nest egg with (acorns - money). And, be sure to deduct enough each paycheck so that you can capture your employer’s match---it’s free money. And in many cases, your employer will match a portion of your savings. Almost 85 percent of them do.” Let’s have a “for example.”. Your employer might match 50 cents for each dollar you contribute to your plan up to a certain percentage of your income. So, if you contribute a total of $1,000 for the year, your employer would put an additional $500 into the plan in your name. Be absolutely sure to take advantage of that. Remember, it’s free money. If you’re not contributing to your plan at work, right now is a great time to start. When you enroll, it forces you to save because the money comes right out of your paycheck --- which means you’re less likely to miss money you don’t see. In addition, you will be deducting from pre-tax earnings which means that those dollars will be taken out before taxes. Cousin Sally is 25 and makes $25,000 a year. She just joined her 401(k) at work. She has decided to save $175 a month (10% of her salary) with a 3% company match. Guess what? She could retire at 65 with $1 million in savings. She’s the smartest in her Sandy The Smart Saver Hi, I’m Sandy The Smart Saver and I am here once again to give you some tips on Planning-Saving-Investing For Retirement and I am still taking a light - hearted approach and still trying to make the whole saving - investing for retirement process a “fun” event. And, of course, I am still not your average squirrel . The size of your retirement nest egg and the monthly payment that you will receive from it in retirement depends of two items: (1) how much you contribute to your retirement plan at work and (2) how well your investments perform. The first item of business for you is to place the maximum amount of your saving dollars into your tax-deferred plan at work---like my cousin Sally. Use the saving and investment vehicles that have been specifically designed for retirement savings. Sal says, that your best option is to participate in a 401(k), 403(b) or 457 plan at work. family. Her brothers live paycheck to paycheck. They spend their acorns as soon as they get them and then they use their plastic. Sal started early. She knows that with compound interest her investment dollars work twice as hard when she invests those dollars at age 25 rather than waiting until she is 35. Sally’s not a Wall Street guru, but she knows how to make her 401(k) work its magic. She’s looking forward to retirement tee time every morning at 10 A.M. Sal will be spending her time playing on the golf course. Fore!!! Her brothers will be working there. How about you? Are you getting the most out of your 401(k)? You’d be nuts not to. Sandy Cartoon Wife Camille : Hey Sandy, I see where the Securities and Exchange Commission is really coming down on Wall Street analysts like Jack Grubman who issued fraudulent and misleading investment research. Sandy : Really? Camille : He’ll pay a fine of $15 million. Sandy : Yeah---and for giving us investors this bunch of c_ _ _ he made $67.5 million from 1999 through August 2002. Camille : Isn’t that fraudulent? Shouldn’t he go to jail? Sandy : Good suggestion!!! # 1 - Nearly half of all workers who changed jobs voluntarily last year cleaned out their savings in 401(k) retirement plans instead of rolling the money over into an Individual Retirement Account. This happened despite the fact that such withdrawals (prior to age 59 ½) trigger a 10 percent income tax penalty. And this comes on top of the taxes due on the withdrawals. The problem? Many, but the most important is the fact that those who fail to save - invest for retirement will be left with nothing more than Social Security. Fact: In 2003, the average Social Security benefit was $895 a month; a total of $10,740 a year. A couple who both receive benefits received $1,483 a month, a total of $17,796 a year. And this is the gross figure before deductions for Medicare. Social Security alone will not provide for a luxurious “fun filled” retirement. Don’t cash out your 401 (k) when you change employers!!! #2 Retirement Myth Retirement success depends on getting the best tips on where to invest - save. Fact: The people who have the easiest time in building their retirement nest egg are the Quick Takes: #1 Cash Out Of Your 401(k)?__No!!! -6-
Stock Market – Investing Humor Q. How many stockbrokers does it take to change a light bulb? A . Two. One to remove the bulb and drop it, and the other to try and sell it before it crashes – knowing that it’s already burned out. Quotable Quotes “The investor’s chief problem – and even his worst enemy – is likely to be himself.” Benjamin Graham, 1894 – 1972, “The Intelligent Investor”, founder of the value school of investing. “ It ain’t the things that people don’t know that’s the problem. It’s the things they do know that just ain’t so.” Will Rogers, 1879 – 1935 Humorist, actor, author, philosopher. “ Investment advice doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, there is no better advice than to quit smoking and buckle up when driving.” Charles Ellis, “Winning The Losers Game”, managing director of Greenwich Associates. “ With time and patience the mulberry leaf become a silk gown.” Chinese Proverb. “ I’d compare stock pickers to astrologers but I don’t want to bad mouth astrologers.” Prof. Eugene F. Fama, Univ. of Chicago, financial economist. “ If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments.” Earl Wilson, 1907 – 1987, Broadway columnist. ones who start saving –investing early in their career. One of the single most important factors is the time that “compounding” or compound interest can work its magic. Example: Let’s say that you are 30 years old. You will invest $100 a month (about $3.33 a day) until you are 65. Let’s assume a 10% annual return from your investments. At age 65, your investment will be worth $342,589. In order to reach that figure, a 35 year old investor would have to save $165 a month. A 45 year old investor would have to save $473 a month. A 55 year old investor would have to save $1,701 a month. Moral of this story? The early bird will get the worm and the early saver - investor does a easier - better job of building his/her retirement nest egg. Coming In The May Issue: Social Security: It’s Time To Fix The Problems Back in 1995, I wrote a newspaper column on “Social Security Reform: When Will It Happen?” I quote: “Ever since it issued its first retirement benefit check back in 1940, the Social Security Administration has never missed a payroll. It will probably never miss one, but the amount of that monthly benefit will be changing in the future. It is not a question as to whether retirement benefits will be changing but rather when and how .” In 1995, President Bill Clinton appointed an Advisory Council that submitted proposals designed to ensure long-term solvency of the system. Almost 9 years have passed and we are still waiting for proposed legislation that can “fix” a system that needs a lot of “fixing.” In our May edition of “Your Retirement,” we’ll take a look at the problems and some possible solutions. Retirement Planning Consultants provides a number of resources designed to help individuals make informed decisions on planning – saving – investing for retirement. We offer unbiased and easy-to-understand information from an impartial outside source. We’ve been doing that for almost 30 years. Our “Planning – Saving – Investing For Retirement” workshops have helped thousands of individuals. If you would like to see the brochure for our workshops, send me an email or visit our web site. For additional information or if you have any questions, contact, Robert R. Julian, Retirement Planning Consultants, 313 Blackstone Avenue, Ithaca, New York 14850, 607-255-4405, email: [email_address] . Visit our website at retirementplanningconsultants.com This newsletter intends to present factual up-to-date, researched information on the topics presented. We cannot make any representation regarding the accuracy of the content or its applicability to your situation. Before any action is taken based upon this information, it is essential that you obtain competent, individual advice from an attorney, accountant, tax adviser or other professional adviser. No party assumes liability for any loss or damage resulting from errors or omissions based on or use of this material . -7-