In 2009 we put in a crash protection model. We called that our Rapidan Momentum Model. The indicator let’s us pursue growth by helping us ignore the naysayers, doubters, media and our emotions. We get to trust the other indicators. New financial innovations, marked to market accounting at the banks and terrible governance from Washington on housing created something that history did not warn us of. So in the correction of 2010, and the one in 2011 when the sentiments were so nervous, our Crash Protection Model worked like a charm, keeping us invested and compounding returns.
PBS’ "Frontline" recently aired "The Retirement Gamble," an excellent documentary on some of the problems with the retirement savings system in the U.S. While the show brought out some excellent points, it seemed to have a pre-conceived agenda and a reflexive bias against the financial services industry.
Specifically, it failed to highlight that there actually are good 401(k) plans out there, and they can be used to accumulate a significant nest egg.
Regardless of your take on the show, here are some tips to “improve your odds” of a successful retirement.
Get a financial plan in place. Winging it is not a strategy, it’s a virtual guarantee of retirement failure. Numerous studies have shown that those with a financial plan accumulate more assets and improve their odds of reaching their financial goals. Join that group, find a competent fee-only financial planner, pay their fee and let them help you chart a course to a solid financial future.
Take advantage of your workplace retirement plan. If you have a 401(k) or similar plan available to you, use it. At the very least contribute enough to earn the full match if one is offered. Contribute as much as you can afford. Gradually increase your deferral percentage each year if you aren't contributing the maximum.
Make sure that you allocate your 401(k) as part of an overall portfolio. In addition to your retirement plan account, you likely have other investments outside of the plan. Treat your 401(k) account as part of this overall portfolio when making investment choices.
Make affirmative decisions about your retirement plan when leaving a job. In today’s world it is not unlikely that a person might work for as many as 10 employers during their career. I see far too many folks who just forget about their 401(k) accounts at old employers. You really need to manage this money, make it work for your retirement. Make a decision. Leave the money in your old employer’s plan, roll it to your new employer’s plan (if applicable),