Retirees' stock mix too risky

Don Taylorq_v2.gifDear Dr. Don,
My husband is planning to retire in about three years, he'll be 62, but I plan to keep on working until I'm 64 or 65. We lost about 35 percent of our 401(k) and IRAs in the stock market last year.

We have about $300,000 left. Should we pull out of the mutual funds we have and put it in something safer?-- Carol Cache

a_v2.gifDear Carol,
My crystal ball isn't any better than any other financial planning professional's. That said, it sure sounds like you need to dial down the risk in your retirement portfolio.

The stock market, as measured by the S&P 500 index, was down 37 percent in 2008 and about another 18 percent in the first two months of 2009. If you're down 35 percent, you've got a fairly high percentage of your retirement investments in stocks. That may be too much when you're three to five years from retirement, so you should consider rebalancing your portfolio.

You haven't told me how the money is invested, so I can't comment, beyond what I just said about dialing down the stock market risk, on whether you should pull these investments. I'd expect the 401(k) plan would have a range of investment choices that would allow you to accomplish that goal.

You should also have that option in your IRA accounts. But if you don't, you can move the money to an account that does offer the investments you need.

Spend the money to have your accounts and financial goals reviewed by a financial planner. I recommend a fee-only financial planner. The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors can help you find one in your area.

The Bankrate feature "Financial planners: not just for millionaires anymore" provides a nice primer on the topic of hiring a financial planner.


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