The choice of investments for your retirement funds is never easy. The funds you have saved for your retirement deserve special attention. How much you save and the returns on those funds may be the difference between being able to have the lifestyle you want during retirement or being forced to accept something less.
Because these funds are so important, many may be tempted to take a very conservative approach and only consider investments that are very low risk. Unfortunately, those options usually produce low returns. Others, that try to earn higher returns, may end up taking too much risk and suffer losses that are hard to recover.
Here are some ideas to help bring some logic to the investment choice process.
First consider the broad alternatives. Investments can generally be classified into three broad categories – equities, longer-term fixed income investments and shorter-term fixed income investments or cash. How you divide your investments into these categories is called “asset allocation.” In the attached PDF are the average total returns for several categories of investments over various periods. You should note that performance is measured by the total return including dividends, interest and changes in market value. However, 2008 was a very bad year for stocks with the S&P falling about 38% while it rose 26% in 2009.
Then consider your time horizon. The longer you have until you need the funds (time until retirement), the more aggressive you can be in making your asset allocation decision. One of the benefits of having a long-term time horizon is that time gives you the ability to recover from one or several bad years’ results.
Many low risk choices, like US Treasury bills, guaranteed insurance contracts and CDs can give you peace of mind knowing that the risk of loss of principal is minimal, but the returns they have