#70 – Financial planning is far more important than the plan itself.
In other words, your retirement plan is not a one-and-done solution. It is an ongoing process where you need to make key adjustments along the way.
The more dynamic your retirement planning is, the smarter your financial choices will be!
In this episode, Jeremy Keil speaks with Justin Fitzpatrick, PhD, CFA, CFP®, co-founder and chief innovation officer at Income Lab. Justin talks about how you can enhance your retirement picture through dynamic retirement planning and research-based financial decisions.
- Why you shouldn’t base your retirement decisions merely on rules of thumb
- The asset location strategy that every retiree should practice
- Tips to optimize your Social Security and taxes in the long run
- Potential risks of planning for a long life (i.e., overestimating mortality rates)
- And more
7 Pro-tips for More Dynamic Retirement Planning
1. Make Research-Based Decisions
Since you’ll likely only retire once, you might be making several retirement decisions with no prior experience.
Oftentimes, a lot of people turn to their parents or friends for advice. But the retirement planning landscape keeps evolving. There are so many new rules and financial products that your parents might have never heard of!
That’s why it’s important to make research-based decisions. The Income Laboratory is a great software that offers intensive research around retirement planning that can help you get started.
2. Understand That Retirement Is Not Binary
Measuring the risk of a retirement plan in “success” and “failure” can be vague and misleading.
Reason: Success and failure are not the only two outcomes, and what we infer from each of these terms also depends on your unique goals.
Retirees often misinterpret “failure” as complete financial ruin.
Fortunately, dynamic retirement planning is less about huge unforeseen changes and more about gradually adjusting to life changes over time.
So, the next time you hit a roadblock in your financial plan, just take it as a signal that you need to make some key adjustments!
3. Be Careful of Rules of Thumb
Rules of thumb are great for understanding concepts and getting started. But ultimately, they can’t help you make specific decisions.
Applying them blindly in your life is probably not a good idea.
For example, a commonly followed rule of thumb states that you should withdraw around 4% from your retirement savings each year to never run out of money.
But if you decide to wait on your Social Security and pension, your withdrawals might be much higher than 4% initially and then drop to below 4% during the later years of your retirement. It’s a different way to approach the same problem, and just might result in a better retirement outcome than following the ‘4% rule.’
Remember, a specific and personalized plan can be far more effective than general rules of thumb!
4. Practice Asset Location
Asset location means strategically planning the type of assets that will be held in different types of accounts.
There are so many types of retirement accounts out there. 401(k), 403(b), 457, Roth IRAs… the list goes on!
Based on the account’s tax rules and contribution limits, you can be smart about the types of assets you hold in that particular account.
Justin Fitzpatrick suggests you to go one step further with asset location. In addition to planning where you will invest various assets, also plan from where you’ll make your withdrawals! Withdrawing from a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, or a taxable brokerage investment account — all can have different tax implications.
Important reminder: Your goal should be to minimize taxes over your lifetime, not just for the current year. Sometimes, that can require you to pay more taxes upfront!
5. Incorporate Social Security Into Your Tax Planning
While planning your taxes, the time when you claim your Social Security plays a critical role.
Social Security is never 100% taxable. It is only 0-85% taxable, and it varies every year. In some states (such as Wisconsin), it is completely exempt from state taxes.
So, if you’re planning to do Roth conversions early on and have a high taxable income, it makes sense to delay your Social Security – you’ll be building up even more income that could be tax-free!
If you’re retiring with a partner, your Social Security decision affects the both of you. Plus, it becomes even more important as you age due to two reasons:
- Social Security is one of the few inflation-adjusted income streams.
- People often spend less during the later years of their retirement (except before the very end, when long-term care costs might increase). With a decreased spending, even minor tax-savings can have a big impact.
6. Planning for a Long Life Can Be Risky
If the only retirement income you had was through your investment accounts, then planning for a long life could be conservative. You can plan your income until you’re 100 years old, just to be sure that you don’t run out of money.
However, there are other income streams such as Social Security and pensions. A single life pension might stop if the beneficiary passes away. There might be a survivor’s benefit involved.
Let’s say you plan for both spouses to live to a hundred. In this situation, your spreadsheet or your financial planning software might count on all of the income related to both of you until age 100, and very likely end up over-counting!
It might be more realistic to factor in mortality rates, so that you don’t overestimate how much income will be available to your family over time.
If the both of you do end up living a long life, you can always adjust along the way!
7. Adjust Your Financial Plan Along the Way
As we mentioned above, financial planning is not a one-and-done solution. It is an ongoing process where you need to make key adjustments along the way.
Several variables can change throughout your retirement such as your spending needs, inflation, tax rules etc.
A prescriptive software like Income Lab can help you be proactive and prepare for such changes ahead of time.
Check out the resources below to learn more about dynamic retirement planning!
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us or connect with our guest Justin Fitzpatrick through the information provided below!
- Research Articles, Lab Notes, Videos, and Webinars by Income Lab
- 3 Things You Should Know Before Choosing A Financial Advisor
- 6 Questions Retirees Aren’t Asking But Should Be
- Subscribe to Retirement Revealed on Google Podcasts
- Subscribe to Retirement Revealed on Apple Podcasts
Connect With Justin Fitzpatrick:
Connect With Jeremy Keil:
- (262) 333-8353
- Keil Financial Partners
- LinkedIn: Jeremy Keil
- Facebook: Jeremy Keil
- LinkedIn: Keil Financial Partners
About Our Guest:
Before co-founding Income Lab, Justin spent ten years in financial services sales, distribution, and management. He led teams in advanced financial planning and portfolio strategy, managed development of financial technology tools, and designed and executed strategies to enter new markets. Prior to his work in financial services, he spent seven years in academia. He has taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Harvard University; Queen Mary, University of London; and the University of California, Los Angeles. Justin earned a BA from the University of Michigan and a PhD from MIT. Justin is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Charterholder and a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) professional.
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