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Preservation

Preservation

The preservation phase will often be the shortest of the three basic phases in retirement planning, usually occurring in the ten years before retirement or triggering benefits. At this point you have built upon the foundation established by your financial plan and accumulated significant resources for retirement. Your financial burdens may have decreased—children may be out of the house, home mortgage close to being paid off, basic expenses covered—and you may have several accounts and plans nearing maturity or plateauing. In a staircase model, you have reached the middle step—closer to the top, but not quite there yet.


Now is the time to reassess your risk tolerance, your continued growth potential, and your needs as you ease into retirement. While the core philosophy of financial preservation—assessing and reassessing—can be enacted anytime during the planning cycle, it is critical to do so in the ten years or so before retirement, as there are many aspects to consider.


For instance you should reevaluate the sustained performance of all of your accounts. Employer-sponsored programs like 401(k)s and IRAs will have contribution limits, so you may want to seek out other vehicles. If you have others, like fixed or indexed annuities, you should evaluate your options as you near the benefits triggering stage of these products. You may be able to secure more growth if you are able push your ideal retirement age further, or you may be right on track to retire.


Another aspect to consider is the taxation of your retirement vehicles. The preservation phase is your opportunity to allocate and reposition your retirement accounts to maximize value retention and minimize tax burdens. Your savings rate may decrease as you work less and draw on your funds more. Additionally your ideal retirement may have changed at this point and you may have other needs, like long-term care, that come into focus.


A regular review of your financial plan with an advisor will help you get the most out of your money.