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Making Your Money Last

3 Financial Risks That Retirees Underestimate

Remember to consider your withdrawal strategy, unexpected life events and your health when approaching retirement.

When you think of risk in retirement, what comes to mind? For many, the various risks associated with the stock market may be the first. From asset allocation risk (avoiding keeping all of your eggs in one basket) to sequence-of-return risk (the risk of taking out income when the market is down), these factors become increasingly important once your paychecks stop and you begin drawing from your investments for retirement income.

However, these are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to key risks that should be considered for retirement planning in today's economy. Here are three areas I commonly see retirees and pre-retirees forgetting to consider:

1. Portfolio Failure Risk

How long can you live off of income from your investments? Is it likely that your investments can provide an income stream you won't outlive? There are many theories, such as the ever-popular 4% rule, which suggests that, if you maintain a portfolio consisting of 60% bonds and 40% equities, you can take 4% of your total portfolio each year. However, studies in recent years have shown this method to have about a 50% failure rate based on today's low-interest rates and market volatility.

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Another withdrawal method is guessing how long you'll live and dividing your savings by 20 to 30 years—but what happens if you live 31 years?

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If you do not have a written income plan for how to strategically withdraw from your accounts over the duration of your retirement, this may be a significant risk to consider.

2. Unexpected Financial Responsibility Risk

Life is full of surprises, and retirement is no different. Today's retirees are known as the "sandwich generation" with financial pressures coming from all sides—often having to provide for grown children and aging parents at the same time.

Additionally, there are difficult but significant financial planning considerations for the future loss of a spouse. You can expect to lose a Social Security payment and potentially see changes to a pension. Simultaneously, tax brackets will shrink when going from married to single, taking a larger piece of your already-reduced income.

Having a proactive, flexible financial strategy can be essential in helping you adapt to your many changing needs throughout the course of your retirement.

3. Health Care Risk

Beyond the considerations for inflation on daily purchasing power in retirement, rising costs of health care, particularly as Americans continue living longer, require explicit planning to avoid a physically disabling event from becoming a financial concern. From Medigap options to long-term care and hybrid insurance policies, considering insurance coverage for perhaps one of the most significant expenses in retirement may be a pivotal point in your retirement planning.

While these obstacles may seem daunting, identifying and understanding the concerns unique to your retirement goals should be the first step to help overcome them.

Christopher Scalese, Investment Adviser Representative, insurance professional and the president of Fortune Financial Group, focuses on assisting in the financial transition from working to retirement years.

Steve Post contributed to this article.

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About the Author

Christopher Scalese

President, Fortune Financial Group

Christopher Scalese, financial adviser, insurance professional and author of the book Retirement is a Marathon, Not a Sprint, is the president of Fortune Financial Group. Scalese has spent much of his career assisting with the financial transition from the working years to the retirement years. His primary goal is to help structure finances for steady income, while limiting risk and avoiding unnecessary taxation. Scalese is a financial representative and a life and health insurance licensed professional.

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