Is it safe to retire when the stock market is so volatile?

Entering retirement marks a major shift from being active in the workforce to relying on your investments to keep you afloat. In times of such extreme market volatility, you might be thinking now is not the right time to go through with such a monumental change. But experts say you shouldn’t let a down market deter you from entering retirement according to your personal goals and plans. Plus, there are a few extra steps you can take to help lessen risk and retire more confidently. While it may feel easier said than done, “a volatile market shouldn’t dictate whether or not you retire,” says Mindy Yu, director of investing at Betterment at Work. “Market volatility is not new, and if history is any guide, the market will eventually recover. Often the timing of upward movements can be equally surprising as the market drops. There will always be good years and bad years in the market.” When on the cusp of retirement, though, make sure your investments are positioned to preserve their balance by holding less risky assets, says Yu. (Riskier assets carry bigger potential for you to lose even more money over a short amount of time.) If you don’t know how to adjust your portfolio for lower risk, consider working with a financial advisor for additional assistance. Alternatively, for a more hands-off approach, robo-advisors such as Betterment or Wealthfront provide apps that will automatically rebalance your portfolio for you as time goes on and your risk tolerance changes. Despite planning, there’s always a chance that once you retire huge dips and peaks in the market could have a major impact on your retirement nest egg. “Since you’re retired, you have to continue making withdrawals in order to maintain your income,” Yu says. “During periods of market dips or volatility, your investment assets may have less value, so you have to sell more of them to equal the same amount of money. When the market goes back up, you’ll have fewer assets benefitting from the rebound.” To avoid having to pull as much money from your investments during down markets, Yu suggests taking advantage of supplemental income sources such as Social Security, rental income or a pension withdrawal. And if you have been contributing to a high-yield savings account, which typically wouldn’t be as volatile as the stock market, consider using some of those funds to allow your investments to benefit from a rebound.

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