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More on Retirement Planning

ShouldaCoulda Woulda Retirement Planning

By Rick Kahler CFP®

My hunch is that most people would agree they “should” invest for the future. My second hunch is that many of them don’t know how to start and are afraid of making serious mistakes.

One of our resident planners, Sterling Gray, summed up that fear eloquently in a post on the KFG blog: “I noticed that my friends and colleagues . . . saw retirement planning as a dark, treacherous terrain that they could never safely travel alone. Unsure of where to turn for help, they often chose to ignore saving for retirement completely . . .”

Here are some pointers to help you take the first steps into the unfamiliar terrain of investing.

1. First and foremost, create a habit of living on less than you make. Spend frugally and invest as much as you possibly can. Ideally, while you are young, start with 20% of your paycheck, but at least start with something. The older you are, the greater the percentage you need to be saving.

2. Choose an investment method that will help reduce the taxes you pay on your contributions and the earnings they produce. This commonly means 401(k) retirement plans and IRAs—Roth IRAs for those in low income tax brackets and traditional IRAs for those in high tax brackets. You typically want to contribute a portion of every paycheck to your retirement plan.

3. Pick an investment. This is the part that scares many people away from investing, so let’s be specific.

3a. The best way for small investors to accumulate wealth is by owning stocks. But you don’t want to fall into the trap of picking individual stocks yourself, or worse yet, trying to buy low and sell high. That is called “playing the stock market,” and according to the research there is a high probability the only thing that will get played is you.

3b. The best way to own stocks is in a mutual fund that owns thousands of stocks of companies from around the globe. My favorite fund for people under age 40 is Vanguard Total World Stock (VT). It owns 7,781 stocks of companies located in 41 countries, including both developed and emerging markets. Over the last 48 years an investment in a globally diversified portfolio of stocks returned 8.9% annually, according to the MSCI World stock index. A $10,000 initial investment turned into about $600,000. If you are over 40, you may want to consider the Vanguard Global Wellington Fund Investor Shares (VGWLX. If you are over 60, the Vanguard Managed Payout Fund (VPGDX) is my favorite.

3c. If your 401(k) doesn’t offer these mutual funds, it probably will offer a number of Target Date Funds. Pick one that is closest to the year you will turn 70. If you are age 30 now, select the 2060 Target Date Fund.

4. This is the most important part of accumulating wealth, and it is absolutely the hardest part. Keep investing out of every paycheck, even when markets are falling or seem sure to fall. Even when the talking heads are sure the world is coming to an end and the financial press is screaming that you need to get out before you lose it all. Never suspend your monthly investment. Never sell out of your stock mutual fund and go to cash. Never sell out even 10% of your stock fund and go to cash. Keep breathing, focus on the long term, and stay the course.


Like any trip into new territory, the path to financial independence starts with a single step. Take that first step, and you’re on your way to a successful journey.


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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. https://medicalexecutivepost.com/dr-david-marcinkos-bookings/




3 Responses

  1. On Retirement

    Unlike golf, there are no mulligans when preparing for retirement. Accurately calculating your retirement expenses is one essential part of the formula. Unfortunately, over 50 percent of Americans underestimate the expenses they’ll have in retirement.

    Here are six of the most common big-ticket items that many individuals often overlook when it comes to creating a retirement strategy.

    Six Most Miscalculated Retirement Expenses

    1. Healthcare: More than three out of four baby boomers have never estimated health-care expenses. When asked what they would estimate them to be, 69 percent replied “$100,000 or less,” falling short of the $265,000 cost that the average couple is expected to incur during retirement.

    2. Housing: Even if you expect to pay off your mortgage prior to retirement, the costs of running a home can rise at a rate higher than anticipated. It’s important to take into account utilities, home maintenance, repairs and more.

    3. Entertainment/Hobbies: In retirement, many people turn to entertainment, hobbies, and other activities, which often cost money to fill their newly free time. Estimating the true cost of this new or expanded expense can be difficult.

    4 .Extended Care: The federal government estimates that 70 percent of Americans will need some type of extended care at some point.3 The average monthly cost for a nursing home is nearly $7,000 and for an assisted living facility the cost tops $3,000.

    5. Taxes: In one survey of retirees, the amount of taxes retirees paid in retirement was their biggest surprise.

    6. Giving to Adult Children: Gifts to adult children and grandchildren is hard to estimate since the events that may prompt gifts are unknowable.

    As your retirement day approaches, revisiting your spending assumptions may be one of the most important steps you can take in assessing your retirement preparation.

    1. Journal of Accountancy, November 2015
    2. Voya Financial, 2018
    3. U.S Department of Health & Human Services, 2018
    4. U.S Department of Health & Human Services, 2018
    5. Lincoln Financial Group, 2018

    Jason Dyken MD MBA


  2. Women

    Married women overall are still in their peak earning years in their 50s and early 60s, while married men’s earnings are on the decline, according to economist Nicole Maestas, an associate professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School.



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