5 Steps for Turning Your Retirement Savings into Retirement Income

The diversity in the people we work with is one of the main reasons we enjoy going on site and meeting with participants or talking with them on the phone. For the purpose of this post, we want to focus on those of you asking about retirement and more specifically how to turn your retirement savings into retirement income. We often hear questions like: should I leave my 401(k) with my company? When should I start taking withdrawals? Or, now that I won’t have an income, how much should I live on?

“Do you have a checklist, or a how-to-guide for transitioning my current 401(k) into retirement income?”

Recently we had a conversation with a woman who asked us, “Do you have a checklist, or a how-to-guide for transitioning my current 401(k) into retirement income?” What a great question! This inspired us to assemble a list of steps that addresses her question and other common retirement transition inquiries. So without further ado, here are 5 steps for turning your retirement savings into retirement income!

Step 1: Consolidate your retirement savings into one location

Whether you’re part of a dual income family or have had multiple jobs with multiple 401(k)’s, chances are you have various retirement accounts at numerous investment companies. The truth is, from a planning perspective and from an investment diversification standpoint, having your assets at a single place can provide simplicity and create the foundation to build a financial plan. Often times, this looks like rolling multiple 401(k)’s into an IRA.

Step 2: Identify sources of income

Once your accounts are consolidated, plotting out your different amounts and sources of income is a key next step. Typically, this looks like aggregating social security income, pension income (if applicable), income from retirement accounts, and other income (a part time job, income from a rental property, etc.). Having this information can provide a good baseline of what you are able to live on per year.

Step 3: Identify lifestyle need (how much are you hoping to live on per year?)

Sometimes people have trouble when the word “budgeting” is introduced to the planning process. So rather than creating a budget, create a spending plan (that sounds much more fun right?). By creating a spending plan, this allows you to look at the money you have coming in vs. expenses going out. By finishing this step, you get to see if your inflows are at a surplus or shortage compared to your expenses.

Step 4: Develop appropriate asset allocation and investment strategy

Okay so you’re here. You’ve done the legwork and now it’s time to invest your retirement accounts in a way that can enhance your retirement lifestyle and help you achieve your goals. A few things to consider when developing your allocation:

  • Account for market risk by having an appropriate dollar amount in short term investments (money market/CD’s). This will allow you the flexibility of being able to get through the inevitable down market cycles without having to realize losses of long-term investments.
  • Account for inflationary risk by having an appropriate dollar amount of your portfolio in long-term growth oriented investments such as US and international stocks. This creates the ability for your accounts to grow above inflation and fund your retirement for the long haul.
  • Address dividend and income strategies that can enhance cash flow. By looking at investing in dividend paying stocks, individual bonds, and other cash flow generating investments, you may reduce the burden that your account has to grow each year to meet your spending needs. Having a combination of dividends, interest, and capital appreciation may be an optimal way to generate return over time.

Step 5: Repeat steps 2-4

Has there ever been a 5 step process that doesn’t include the word “repeat”? By continuing to monitor your income and expenses and making sure your asset allocation lines up with your goals, you are ready to start utilizing your portfolio as an income tool.

These steps are a great start when looking at turning your retirement savings into a plan that can generate retirement income. However, there are many other variables when considering using your retirement savings as income (taxes, how it effects social security, required minimum withdrawals, etc.). Remember that we are here to help and support you through this process. If you have any questions or would simply like to have a conversation about retirement please feel free to email or call anytime.

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Call Us: 503-905-3100 Email Us: 401k@humaninvesting.com

RetirementAndrew Nelson