During her recent visit from South Africa, my former student mentioned she had a retirement account but she hadn’t spoken to her broker in three years. I almost fell out of my chair. The woman is nearly 70. Despite her age, having once been my student, I couldn’t remain silent. I lectured her on the importance of “following the money.” If she thought me impertinent, so be it. She’s old enough to know no one cares about your finances if you don’t.”
Micro managing your IRA or 401(K) or money manager, if you’re are lucky enough one of these, isn’t a good idea. But tending your money garden does require an occasional visit. Call your broker at least twice a year to talk over your investment mix. It should change over time, moving from riskier stocks and bonds when you are young, to safer ones as you age.
What if you don’t have a manager? Not to worry. Help is out there. Recently, I found a good article to help track your funds: (“5 ways Retirement Savers Put Their Dreams at Risk,” by Walter Updegrave, Money, August 2017, pg. 28.) Here are a couple of high points:
To assess whether or not you’re on the road to a comfortable retirement, check in at T. Rowe Price’s “Retirement Income Calculator” — trowprice.com/ric. Review the site once or twice a year.
To get advice on how to mix stocks and bonds to match your risk tolerance, check out Vanguard’s risk tolerance questionnaire: money.us/riskquestions.
Final advice: Don’t presume you’ll work after you retire. Finding a job past 55 is difficult, even for part timers. Worse, as we age, health issues can put an end to the best of intentions. According to a recent study, only a quarter of those who planned to work past their retirement date actually managed it. (Ibid pg. 28.)
You’ve read the advice. Now get out there and till that money garden.