Baby boomers are the largest generation to retire. However, a Stanford Center on Longevity study found that the median amount boomers have in tax-advantaged plans is $290,000 for early boomers born between 1948-1953 and $209,246 for mid-boomers. Considering the rising cost of living, the generation is searching for investment strategies that can safely grow their retirement account balances. Here’s what baby boomers are investing in for retirement.
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1. Target-Date Funds
Target-date funds are relatively low-cost, professionally managed investment vehicles that align with an individual’s expected retirement date. They automatically adjust asset allocation over time, becoming more conservative as retirement age approaches, making them a popular choice for those looking for an automated, hands-off approach.
Brokerages such as Vanguard offer funds with an average expense ratio of 0.08% [bottom fine print. Retirement target dates are typically available in five-year increments between five and 50 years and even offer funds for individuals already in retirement.
2. Cash and Cash Equivalents
The current bearish market may be an opportunity for investors willing to “buy the dip.” However, such a strategy may be best for long-term investors. For individuals currently retired (or about to be), cash or cash equivalents such as money market accounts, high-yield savings accounts or CDs may be the wisest choice to preserve capital.
Cash and cash equivalents like money market funds or certificates of deposit provide baby boomers with liquidity and a safety net for short-term expenses and emergencies. High yield savings rates and CDs with longer terms hover around 5%.
3. Stocks and Equities
Baby boomers may maintain a portion of their portfolio in stocks and equities, albeit with a more conservative approach to avoid unnecessary risk. Dividend-paying stocks and established blue-chip companies are often favored for their stability and income potential.
Some baby boomers use dividend reinvestment plans (DRIP) to grow their wealth gradually. DRIPs allow investors to automatically reinvest dividends into additional shares of the same stock, compounding wealth over time. Some may consider index and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to diversify their equity holdings.
Fixed-income investments like bonds and bond funds are attractive to baby boomers for their stability and income generation. Many opt for a mix of government, corporate, and municipal bonds to balance risk and return.
Bonds can provide a steady income stream, making them an essential component of a retirement portfolio. For example, iShares TIPS Bond ETF consists of Treasury inflation-protected securities with a five-year return of 9.99%. A 10-year Treasury Note is currently yielding 4.69%.
5. Real Estate
Real estate, including rental properties and real estate investment trusts (REITs), are popular for baby boomers seeking to generate passive income and diversify their investments. However, REITs are truly passive, while landlord requires work.
Real estate can offer both appreciation and rental income, making it a valuable asset class in retirement planning. However, managing rentals can be labor-intensive (collecting rent, property maintenance, potentially evicting unsuitable tenants, etc.) unless boomers hire a management company to oversee rentals.
Annuities are financial products that provide regular payments over a specified period or for life. Immediate annuities, in particular, can offer a predictable income stream in retirement. However, it’s essential to evaluate the terms and fees associated with annuities carefully.
7. Social Security Optimization
Maximizing Social Security benefits is crucial for many baby boomers. The current full retirement age is 67 for people under 62 in 2023. Delaying benefits can result in larger monthly payments, and strategies like spousal benefits and file-and-suspend options can further enhance income during retirement. Choosing to draw as early as 62 can reduce the benefit by 30%.
8. Precious Metals
Some baby boomers invest in precious metals like gold and silver to hedge against inflation and economic uncertainty. Precious metals can provide diversification and stability to a retirement portfolio.
9. Long-Term Care Insurance
As baby boomers age, long-term care insurance becomes a crucial consideration. This insurance can help cover the costs of nursing homes, assisted living and in-home care, reducing the financial burden on retirees and their families.
However, much like life insurance, for such coverage to make sense, it would be best to purchase early while premiums are lower or before conditions (such as Alzheimer’s or cancer) arise that could affect eligibility.
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Tips for Baby Boomers Preparing to Retire
The key to ensuring that your hard-earned dollars stretch in your retirement years is to set aside as much money as possible and diversify investments to weather-changing market and economic conditions. Some other tips to consider include:
Consult With a Financial Advisor
Unless you’re extremely financially literate, an expert may help weigh your options and balance your retirement funds. Many baby boomers seek the guidance of financial advisors to create customized investment strategies and retirement income plans. Advisors can provide professional insight, manage risks, and help maintain a balanced and diversified portfolio.
However, not all financial advisors necessarily look out for your best interests. Non-fiduciary advisors make money on the products they sell you and may act on behalf of the best interests of the investment or financial company they recommend. Fiduciary advisors are a better option since they will look out for your best interests over the financial institutions.
Estate Planning Is Essential
If you have assets that could be willed to others, estate planning is essential to retirement preparation. Baby boomers often work with estate planning professionals to ensure their assets are distributed according to their wishes, minimizing probate, tax liabilities and legal complexities.
Have a Withdrawal Strategy in Place
Baby boomers may adopt withdrawal strategies such as the popular 4% rule, which recommends withdrawing a maximum of 4% of their portfolio’s value annually. Doing so balances your income needs with preserving the principal.
If you’re still not at retirement age and the 4% rule doesn’t cover your target retirement budget, you may need to lower your expenses or stay in the workforce longer to build up your portfolio’s value.
Baby boomers approaching retirement have a multitude of investment options at their disposal. It’s important to reevaluate and rebalance financial goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon as retirement age gets closer. Diversification, income generation and tax considerations are key principles that can help them navigate the complexities of retirement investing.
Ultimately, seeking advice from financial professionals and staying informed about changing economic conditions is essential for securing a comfortable and financially stable retirement.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Here’s What Baby Boomers Are Investing In for Retirement
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