I’m going to preface this by saying that I know I am in a great long-term position. It’s the short term that is of concern.
I am 62, single with no dependents. I own my smallish home outright and it’s worth $1 million due to the location. I own my car outright and I have no debt. My IRA and small Roth accounts have about $350,000 with an additional $840,000 in two guaranteed-income deferred annuities rolled over from a couple old 401(k)s in 2020. There’s $520,000 in my regular brokerage accounts (mostly Vanguard Index funds). I have $42,000 invested in two eReits and $10,000 in Series I Bonds. I have $71,000 in a higher-yield savings account and $12,000 in a checking account.
I had always planned to retire at 65 and live off my savings until filing for SSI between 67 and 70 (approx $3,400 to $4,100, depending on when I file). A year ago at 61, I abruptly quit a good-paying new job due to a bad work environment, and a week later, my elderly parent had a serious medical issue. I decided to take time off to help navigate care, and just be present — without all of the stress of a pretty demanding job. A year after quitting, I figured out that I have no desire to go back to what I was doing and, quite frankly, have to desire to work at all!
“‘I’m not afraid of running out of money long term. It’s the next 5 to 7 years that are really causing me heartache.’”
So here (finally) is my concern. My expenses are at least $3,000 per month give or take. Given what I have in savings and no plans to file for Social Security Insurance for at least five years, what do I continue to live on, especially if I don’t go back to work? I most likely have some house expenses (new roof, garage door, etc.) in the near future, plus, I want to travel sooner than later so $71,000 won’t last that long especially with this inflation. Do I sell off some of my mutual fund shares to boost my savings?
At some point (most likely in the next two years) there may be about $75,000 of inheritance, but I’m not factoring that into the equation for now. I think I’ve done almost everything right, and I’m ready for my golden years. I’m not afraid of running out of money long term. It’s the next five to seven years that are really causing me heartache. What are your thoughts?
Life is short, but we all hope for a long retirement, and it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important when we are “nose-down” in the rat race. We only have one life, and most of us, if we’re lucky, have two parents and/or sometimes one good parent. If we are blessed with one or both, it’s a gift if we can afford to take that time with them, especially if they have pressing medical issues. Thankfully, you had planned ahead, and you were able to do just that.
Many people reevaluated their relationship to work in recent years. You did so because you became a caretaker. The most fortunate among American workers were allowed to work from home from 2020, and where their work was the umbrella that protected their financial life and gave them the funds to live their life, by the end of the pandemic, that umbrella became their life which gave them the ability to work. It’s a profound change.
I’m going to take a wild guess here — well, not so wild — and say that a lot of people are reading your letter with their mouths agape, with not a small amount of envy. Some may see a touch of humble bragging to your financial achievements, but you acknowledge that you are in a healthy financial position, and have endeavored to do everything right. That, I’m sure, involved sacrifices along the way. So bravo to you. From a gratitude point of view, your financial list is a good one.
There are a couple of wrinkles, which may be useful for others to be aware of. Robert Seltzer, founder of Seltzer Business Management in Los Angeles, said he would not recommend a client to roll their 401(k)s into annuities due to their higher fees and lack of flexibility. Without working, your only taxable income would be derived from retirement account distributions and investment income — but if your taxable income is less than $41,675, therefore, you would pay no capital gains tax.
Is it a good time to liquidate some stocks? You’ve played the long game. The S&P 500
is up 2.7% over the past year; many people close to retirement have been spooked by stock-market volatility since 2020, but the S&P has increased more than 30% since the last trading session of 2019 — before the pandemic. Assuming you’ve been investing for the past three decades or more, and have experienced the miracle of compounding over that time, the time to enjoy your life is nigh.
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