Region investors preparing for or living in retirement need to plan for the expected while preparing for the unexpected - and position their investment portfolios for both, said Chris Fry, an Edward Jones financial adviser in Elkins.
How can one plan for the expected?
"First, envision your retirement lifestyle," Fry said. "Do you plan on traveling the world? Or will you stay close to home, volunteering and pursuing your hobbies? Or perhaps you'll even work part-time in some capacity."
Once investors know what their retirement might look like, they can put a "price tag" on it, even if it's only an estimate, he said.
"Try to contribute as much as possible to your retirement accounts, such as your 401(k) and your IRA," Fry said. "Then, as you near retirement, you'll have to calculate how much you can withdraw from your portfolio each year without running out of money and determine if your spending habits are suitable for the amount of income you can count on from your retirement plans, Social Security and other sources."
As far as the "unexpected" factors - those variables that will affect one's retirement costs and lifestyle - investors should consider:
Inflation - Over time, even a relatively mild inflation rate can decrease one's purchasing power and erode the value of investments, particularly the fixed-income ones.
Market volatility - No one can really predict when the financial markets will move up or down, or how big these movements will be, but they will occur, and could affect an unbalanced portfolio.
Health care - As one gets older, health care costs almost certainly rise, but the size of this increase is difficult to forecast.
Longevity - One doesn't know exactly how long he or she will live, but longevity will have a big impact on spending and investment decisions during retirement.
Fry said investors can position their portfolios for the expected and unexpected by achieving balance, specifically balancing the needs for growth and income.
"During your working years, you may need to focus more on growth-oriented investments, within the context of your individual risk tolerance, your time horizon and your specific goals," Fry said. "Even when you retire, you"ll need growth potential in your portfolio to cope with inflation and rising health care costs."
Retirees also have to think a lot more about their spending decisions, Fry says, so they will need a certain percentage of their portfolio devoted to income-oriented vehicles.
"Your financial advisor can help you find the right balance in your investments, both before and during retirement," Fry said. "And along the way, you'll likely need to adjust your portfolio in response to changes in your life. But if you keep the big picture in mind by planning for the expected while preparing for the unexpected, you can work toward achieving the retirement that you've envisioned and that you deserve."
Edward Jones provides financial services for individual investors in the United States and, through its affiliate, in Canada. Every aspect of the firm's business, from the types of investment options offered to the location of branch offices, is designed to cater to individual investors in the communities in which they live and work. The firm's 12,000-plus financial advisors work directly with nearly 7 million clients to understand their personal goals - from college savings to retirement - and create long-term investment solutions that emphasize a well-balanced portfolio and a buy-and-hold strategy. Edward Jones embraces the importance of building long-term, face-to-face relationships with clients, helping them to understand and make sense of the investment options available today.
Edward Jones, which ranked No. 11 on FORTUNE magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For" in 2011, is headquartered in St. Louis. The Edward Jones web site is located at www.edwardjones.com, and its recruiting web site is www.careers.edwardjones.com. Member SIPC.