Personal Retirement Planning Services
The Right Choice. We believe you need a plan to achieve your goals. We have developed the Four-Step Approach to Achieving Your Retirement Goals: It's Your Future.
Step 1: Assess Your Needs
How much should I save?
While it is true that certain expenses may decrease when you retire, it is also true that you may not be able to scale back your spending as much as you might expect. In fact, new expenses often arise. It is safe to assume that you will need somewhere between 70-80% of your pre-retirement income to live comfortably after you retire.
So where will this money come from?
Most individuals will earn income from the following sources:
- Personal savings and investments, including retirement plans
- Earnings from some form of continued employment
- Company-sponsored pension plans
- Social Security
Most people today will not retire with the same type of income that their parents and grandparents did. It is a fact that Social Security will provide less than half of the average American's retirement income. And since true pension plans are becoming less common, most individuals will not receive income from this source either. The job of saving for retirement has become your task—and one that cannot be taken lightly.
The key to building a strong nest egg.
The real key to building a strong nest egg is using the power of time and compounding. Your employer's retirement plan gives you an opportunity to invest for your future. Take advantage of this plan to put money aside in a tax-advantaged account while you are working. Your goal should be to accumulate enough assets to provide the size of income that you desire in retirement. Compounding, defined as earning income not only on your original investment, but also on the interest that the original investment has earned, is the best way to save for retirement. It may seem like you have plenty of time to start planning. But the truth is, the longer you wait to get started, the more effort and money you need to invest to reach your goals.
How much should I save?
Use the Retirement Savings Calculator to determine how much you should start saving each month.
Contact us to help build a strategy to meet this goal.
Step 2: Look At Your Available Options
After carefully reviewing your current situation and assessing your needs and goals, you should decide which types of investments you would use to accomplish these goals. Most retirement plans offer a broad range of investment vehicles from which you can choose. These typically fall into three categories:
- Stable-value investments (short-term investments)
- Fixed-income investments (bonds)
- Equities (stocks)
Low-risk investments are generally the safest, while high-risk investments usually have greater growth potential.
Of the three categories listed above, stable-value investments are considered the most conservative and safest. Investing your money in stable-value investments offers little risk and returns that historically remain even with the inflation rate. Losing money in this type of investment is unlikely.
Your risk of losing money is dramatically increased with equities, as is the ability to earn a higher rate of return over a longer period of time.
Benefits of mutual fund investing
Your plan is made up of mutual funds, which are invested in the three categories listed above. With mutual funds, your money is pooled with that of other investors and invested in an assortment of stocks, bonds, short-term investments, or a combination of the three. This is known as diversification. Pooling your money with other investors gives you greater buying power than investing your money alone. It gives you the ability to have partial ownership of many securities, even with your first $100 contribution.
Contact us to learn more about your investment opportunities.
Step 3: Determine Your Risk Tolerance
What is risk tolerance?
Some individuals are naturally conservative. The thought of taking risks makes them uncomfortable. Others are risk-takers. Most individuals, however, fall somewhere between these two extremes. The amount of risk you are able to take as an investor is called your risk tolerance. It is extremely important that you determine your risk tolerance before you begin investing, to prepare yourself for your investment results.
Determining your risk tolerance
Time is the largest factor in determining the amount of risk you should take with your retirement assets. If you expect to work several more years before retirement, you may be able to take more risk with your investments than someone who expects to retire very soon. New investors are generally over-conservative, focusing too much on short-term results, rather than long-term earnings. With only a few years until retirement, however, avoiding risk to preserve your retirement savings may be very important.
Contact us for a sample asset allocation, and we can help determine if you are a conservative, moderate, or aggressive investor.
Step 4: Get Started
Begin with a plan.
Consider the three previous steps and combine your thoughts into a plan of action. You will need to consider your needs in retirement, your risk tolerance, the level at which you can contribute to your plan, and the investment options available to you to achieve financial success.
Execute the plan.
Some of the best-laid plans fail to produce success because they are not properly executed. It is important to start as soon as possible. Once you have begun, remember that the events of everyday life can often change the decisions you made years earlier. You may earn a promotion, get married, buy a house, or send your children to college. These events many times will change your strategy and require changes in action. It is recommended that you review your portfolio at least once a year to ensure that the decisions you made yesterday are still the right ones today. When analyzing your prior decisions, always ask yourself these three questions:
- Am I contributing enough to achieve my goals?
- Am I investing in the best options to achieve these goals?
- Have my goals changed?
Review the plan.
Few things in life go exactly as planned. Always review the information you receive from American Trust and repeat these four steps occasionally to determine if you are still on the path to financial success.
Remember, it's easy to plan with American Trust! The most important aspect of getting started is...getting started. So contact us today.
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