What should 60-70-year-olds invest in?

Since Upward really doesn't focus on retirees or pre-retirement planning, this is not my predominant area of focus. However, from time to time, I get this question, so I thought it was worth discussing.

For people who are investing in their 60's and 70's, I automatically think of "preservation mode". Because these have typically been the years where Americans retire, being heavily invested in only stocks can create a devastating blow to that target retirement date. For example, let's say you were 65 in 2008 and your stock portfolio took a 40% dive. Guess what? That target retirement date just got pushed into the future.

What's the answer?

1. Diversification

2. Money Buckets

3. Regular Reviews

 

Diversification: As we age, we need to make sure more of our portfolio is focused on modest, consistent, predictable returns. Not only do you want to diversify between stocks, bonds, cash, and real estate, you also want to make sure you diversify between US and international holdings. Oh, and don't forget to not have too many eggs in one basket. Make sure you diversify among various industries and ladder your bond maturities.

 

Money Buckets: Because many of us get a late start in retirement savings, some people may need to play catch up. That being said, I don't recommend a person in their 60's or 70's to bet it all in the markets to try to grab onto a 20% annual return. This is where money buckets come in. A money bucket holds funds reserved for short-, mid-, and long-term time horizons. This takes planning to accomplish, but is an excellent way to manage capital preservation and need for growth. Short-term funds are used for 1-3 year needs and emergency funds and should be liquid and conservatively invested. Mid-term funds would be in the 3-7 year time frame and moderately invested. Long-term, 7 years plus, would be positioned for growth.

 

Regular Reviews: Most of us need the input and direction from a professional from time to time. Don't risk your future on doing it yourself. Even the best financial planner farms his/her own portfolio to a like-minded adviser for input, direction, and confirmation. I recommend a fee-only planner, CFP, and an advisor who doesn't make all his/her money on commissions for selling investments. Make sure they are performing as a fiduciary and initiate yearly comprehensive meetings at a bare minimum.