Protecting Your 401(k) Retirement Savings

  • By Nathan Fort
  • 21 Jun, 2017
401(k) retirement savings
You likely hear a lot of conflicting advice about how to manage your retirement savings , especially when it comes to 401(k)s held through an employer. How often should you adjust allocations? Should you try to micromanage it with the limited options you’re given? Should you update it annually, biannually or monthly?

One commonality you’ll find among most sources is an emphasis on the role time plays in your 401(k) strategy. How much longer do you have until your retirement? The old adage that you continue reducing risk as you get closer to retirement is one of those entry-level 401(k) best practices for which there’s generally unanimous support.

This risk reduction can be safely examined through a lens of decades and years. If you start taking advantage of matching funds in your late teens or early 20s you will likely have 50 or more years of 401(k) investments to look forward to, so investing aggressively when you’re young gives you a chance to experience better growth on a smaller amount and take on more risk during a period of your life when you’re not exactly relying on your 401(k) for an immediate income stream. Even if a bear market were to hit a young investor, their 401(k) still has several decades in which to recover.

That being said, if there’s a bear market on the horizon, and at any given time you can hear opposing viewpoints on the likelihood of that, then you may want to consider adjusting your allocations to more defensive positions that are less exposed to the negative repercussions of market pullbacks. Whether or not you do this is dependent on your outlook on the market and whether you think the likelihood of a bear market is becoming an inevitability.

So How Do I Invest My 401(k) More Defensively?

When it comes to equities, or stocks, there’s always inherent risk. The market can fluctuate, scandals within a company can arise and recalls and lawsuits happen, just to name a few potential scenarios that can result in the rapid devaluation of a particular company’s stock. Bonds, on the other hand, are almost universally viewed as safer for a variety of reasons.

  1. Bonds are, in essence, a guarantee that the lender will receive face value once the bond has matured. 
  2. Typical bonds pay a fixed interest which are guaranteed by the issuer and are part of the bond’s terms. This is different than the dividend payments some stock holders receive, which are entirely dependent on the issuing company’s business and management style. 
  3. From a long-term standpoint the bond market is typically more stable and less volatile than stock markets.

That being said, with little risk comes little reward. Although bonds can be traded and pay out a minimal interest to holders, they don’t have the growth or dividend potential equal to equities. 

Some Other Potential Tips to Insulate Your 401(k)

You generally only have so many options when it comes to your 401(k)’s allocations. Keep in mind that small-cap companies have more growth potential, in most cases, than large-cap companies whose big growth days are behind them. But with large-cap companies generally comes more stability and less risk.

International stocks are another potential growth option given the global economic climate, but if there are big pullbacks in Asia, Europe and elsewhere it may be a good idea to divest out of international and move more toward domestic bonds.

If you have the option to invest in index funds you can also consider index funds that are designed to be bear proof. There are certain industries that maintain value and in some cases even grow during a bear market or recession. People, regardless of the economy (or in some cases maybe because of it), will continue drinking alcohol or smoking. They will likewise continue to need health care and other standard services such as electricity, waste disposal, internet and household goods such as toilet paper or toothpaste.
 
If you don’t want to get entirely out of equities but fear a bear market is inevitable, you may want to research various index funds that are designed to act as a hedge by including these types of recession-resistant industries.

Talk to the Local Austin Area Retirement Experts

If you want to learn more about growing your nest egg while protecting it from potential bear markets or pullbacks, Arbor Mutual Wealth Management can help. Our investment and retirement portfolio strategists excel at helping our customers truly understand their options, establish goals and map out a path to a comfortable retirement. Enjoy peace of mind knowing your money is headed in the right direction by calling (866) 332-1761 and scheduling a free retirement checkup!

http://time.com/money/3144708/heres-the-right-way-to-protect-your-401k-from-the-next-big-market-drop... http://time.com/money/4259056/protect-retirement-bear-market/ http://www.401khelpcenter.com/401k_education/allocation.html#.WTBu_evytQI http://www.investopedia.com/articles/retirement/08/401k-info.asp

By Admin 05 Jan, 2018

Many parents shield their kids from money matters as long as possible to spare them the financial stress. However, this hands-off approach may put your child at a disadvantage when they aren’t prepared to be financially responsible and independent later in life.

Recent data suggests that as many as 22 percent of American high schoolers don’t have basic financial skills to prepare them for the real world.1 If you’re hoping the school system will teach your child basic finances, think again! Only 20 states require high schoolers to take economics, and just 17 require high school courses in financial literacy.2

Fortunately, you can fill in knowledge gaps before they become a more serious issue. Teaching your child the basics of saving and spending will make a world of difference when they get their first job, buy their first car or go to college. You may even get to brush up on your own financial skills in the process!

By Nathan Fort 28 Nov, 2017

It can be uncomfortable to plan for a future where you might be limited by old age or illness. However, the chances of such an outcome may be higher than you think. People who are currently 65 years old have nearly a 70 percent chance of needing long-term care at some point in their lives.1

Luckily, you can offset future care costs by a substantial amount if you invest in long-term care insurance.

By Nathan Fort 01 Nov, 2017
Is your estate plan up-to-date? If not, you’re not alone. Several recent surveys have asked Americans of all age groups whether they have an estate plan or will, and the numbers are not confidence inspiring. One survey, performed by Caring.com, reported less than half of their adult respondents had a will or living trust. A USLegalWills.com survey from June 2016 suggests roughly 71% of Americans don’t have an up-to-date will.

Those numbers are slightly better for seniors. The USLegalWills.com survey found roughly half of seniors had an up-to-date will, and the Caring.com survey suggests slightly more than half, 58%, of baby boomers had estate plans in place. The same study asserts a less-worrisome 81% of seniors 72 and older possessed estate planning documents.

People are certainly living longer, which is one of the reasons many Americans put off establishing an estate plan, but the future is notorious for being uncertain. There are no guarantees of longevity for anyone, which is why it’s advisable for every adult to have some form of estate plan in place, whether it’s just a basic will or a complex series of living and revocable trusts.

The big question, from a wealth management professional’s standpoint, is how do you convince the majority of Americans that, regardless of age, having an estate plan is essential? More fundamentally, what is it that’s holding people back from developing an estate plan?

Is it simply that they’ve never thought about it? A lack of motivation? Discomfort with thoughts of mortality? The answer is likely a combination of some or all of these factors.
By Nathan Fort 30 Oct, 2017
No hard-working American wants to lose their entire paycheck as soon as they receive it. Even so, many of us are guilty of crossing the fine line between necessary purchases and splurge buys, sometimes without realizing it. Even if an individual has a solid grasp on their spending habits, their lifestyle choices may be costing them more money than they realize in the long run. If you’re hoping to set aside more of your salary for savings and investments, it may be time to cut costs in your everyday life with these simple tips.
By Nathan Fort 31 Aug, 2017
If you find finances confusing you’re not alone. Millions of Americans struggle with understanding retirement savings and investment vehicles, and for good reason. Many are complicated and seemingly designed to be as confusing as possible.

Some of the most daunting saving options are annuities. What makes them especially confusing is they’re often associated with insurance and sold by insurance carriers, but in essence, it’s an income stream. So what exactly is the deal with annuities?
By Nathan Fort 08 Aug, 2017
Economists and financial planners are likely still startling awake in the middle of the night, sheets drenched in sweat, with the nightmare of September 15, 2008 fading back into the recesses of their subconscious.

That was the day Lehman Brothers collapsed under the weight of the bad bets they made on subprime mortgage lenders, resulting in the largest bankruptcy in history.

You may have heard the term subprime mortgage tied to the financial crisis, but what exactly are subprime mortgages, and how did they torpedo the U.S. and ultimately the world economy?
By Nathan Fort 21 Jun, 2017
You likely hear a lot of conflicting advice about how to manage your retirement savings , especially when it comes to 401(k)s held through an employer. How often should you adjust allocations? Should you try to micromanage it with the limited options you’re given? Should you update it annually, biannually or monthly?

One commonality you’ll find among most sources is an emphasis on the role time plays in your 401(k) strategy. How much longer do you have until your retirement? The old adage that you continue reducing risk as you get closer to retirement is one of those entry-level 401(k) best practices for which there’s generally unanimous support.

This risk reduction can be safely examined through a lens of decades and years. If you start taking advantage of matching funds in your late teens or early 20s you will likely have 50 or more years of 401(k) investments to look forward to, so investing aggressively when you’re young gives you a chance to experience better growth on a smaller amount and take on more risk during a period of your life when you’re not exactly relying on your 401(k) for an immediate income stream. Even if a bear market were to hit a young investor, their 401(k) still has several decades in which to recover.

That being said, if there’s a bear market on the horizon, and at any given time you can hear opposing viewpoints on the likelihood of that, then you may want to consider adjusting your allocations to more defensive positions that are less exposed to the negative repercussions of market pullbacks. Whether or not you do this is dependent on your outlook on the market and whether you think the likelihood of a bear market is becoming an inevitability.
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