Financial Planning

Can Your Financial Game Plan Get You to and Through Retirement?

You need to prepare yourself for all three phases of your financial life: accumulation, preservation and distribution.

I've learned a lot about preparing for challenges in life from football. I played college football, coached high school football and now I coach my children's teams.

As an investment adviser, I use the principles of the game every day to build financial strategies that help get clients to and through retirement. Keys to these strategies include understanding what phase of life you're in, learning the different worlds of investing and asking what you want your money to do for you.

Know Your Phase

There are three phases in your financial life, and each phase utilizes different products and strategies.

1. Accumulation Phase

It should start around age 20. You've just started working, and hopefully saving. Time and earning potential are on your side during this phase. If you lose 30% or 40% of your portfolio in a market crash, like many people did in 2008, you have time to make it up, and also have new money coming in to help make up any losses.

2. Preservation Phase

This phase begins around age 60. You're getting ready to retire, and you're no longer in a position to make up big losses in your portfolio. You've worked approximately 40 years to build a nest egg—now is the time to consider revamping your financial strategy to help protect your assets from market volatility.

3. Distribution Phase

At retirement, many people wonder, "Will I outlive my money?" That's a scary question. You want to make sure your money lasts the rest of your life, and since workplace pensions have mostly disappeared, you may need your retirement savings to deliver a steady income stream.

Know Your Worlds of Preparing for Retirement

Generally speaking, there are three ways an individual can prepare for retirement, through three different sources: banks, Wall Street and insurance companies.

1. Bank

Money here is generally regarded by consumers as secure from the risks associated with the stock market, liquid, and most accounts are insured by the FDIC up to $250,000 per Social Security number. However, understand you won't get much growth in rates of return from these assets. Another option for this money is to get a home equity line of credit for home improvements such as a kitchen or bathroom renovation. Interest rates are so low that this makes more sense than taking a chunk of your money out for improvements.

2. Insurance

Annuities are contracts you purchase from an insurance company. For the premium you pay, you can receive certain fixed or variable interest crediting options that compound tax-deferred until withdrawn. Using annuities in your retirement strategy keeps the principal safe from market volatility. They can also make sense for transferring wealth to loved ones and providing a lifelong income stream. While fixed annuities provide a guaranteed income stream for life (backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer), they generally have lower interest rates which means lower interest credits to your contract.

3. Wall Street

Money here is at risk of market volatility. However, over time you generally receive more growth than you can get from the banking world or insurance world. Investments such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds may be a good choice for your long-term money. Over time, you will likely get better returns, while keeping up with the rate of inflation and cost of living. However, investing involves risk to principal.

Does Your Financial Adviser Work in All Three Worlds?

This is important. Hire an adviser who works in all three worlds of retirement planning. Doing so helps create a balanced retirement portfolio, with some money that is insulated from big market drops, and some money positioned with market risk to take advantage of market gains.

Remember, you want your money to grow, you want your money to be protected when nearing retirement, and you want to be able to access your money.

In the banking world, your cash is secure and liquid in certificates of deposit (CDs) and money market accounts. You protect your principal, but won't get much growth.

In the insurance world, your principal is protected from market volatility and can accumulate in annuities. Annuities allow you to create a lifelong income stream; however, annuities are less liquid because they have extra costs and penalties for early withdrawals and come with surrender charges.

In the Wall Street world, your money can grow and be liquid in mutual funds, stocks and bonds. You can keep up with the rate of inflation, but you take on risk.

Place your investment money in all of these worlds. With the help of a financial professional working in all three, you can begin to move down the field toward a confident retirement!

Chad Slagle is the president and founder of Slagle Financial LLC in the St. Louis area. He is the host of The Chad Slagle Show, "Coaching You to and Through Retirement," a local television series. He is an Investment Adviser Representative and insurance professional.

Dave Heller contributed to this article.

About the Author

Chad Slagle

President, Slagle Financial LLC

Chad Slagle is the President & Founder of Slagle Financial, a Midwest based financial planning firm that has offices throughout Illinois and Missouri. He is the host of “The Chad Slagle Show: Coaching You To and Through Retirement” and author of "Winning in Retirement: When Every Day is Saturday." Since 1995, Chad and his team of advisers have educated thousands of pre-retirees and retirees on how to make better decisions with their hard-earned dollars.

The appearances in Kiplinger were obtained through a PR program. The columnist received assistance from a public relations firm in preparing this piece for submission to Kiplinger.com. Kiplinger was not compensated in any way.

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