The best retirement investments are the same for everyone. Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be.
We recommend that you base your investing for retirement on a sound financial plan relying on the best retirement investments.
One thing investors of all ages fear is not having a good financial plan in place so they have enough retirement income to live on once they’ve stopped working. Looking for the best retirement investments, addressing this concern is usually a high priority for many of our Successful Investor Portfolio Management clients.
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Four key factors to consider when investing for retirement
- How much you expect to save prior to retirement;
- The return you expect on your savings;
- How much of that return you’ll have left after taxes;
- How much retirement income you’ll need once you’ve left the workforce.
Our portfolio diversification approach gives you strong potential for long-term gains and is considered one of the top strategies for making the best retirement investments
If you diversify as we advise, you improve your chances of making money over long periods, no matter what happens in the market.
For example, manufacturing stocks may suffer if raw-material prices rise, but in that case your Resources stocks will gain. Rising wages can put pressure on manufacturers, but your Consumer stocks should do better as workers spend more.
If borrowers can’t pay back their loans, your Finance stocks will suffer. But high default rates usually lead to lower interest rates, which push up the value of your Utilities stocks.
As part of their portfolio diversification strategy, most investors should have investments in most, if not all, of these five sectors. The proper proportions for you depend on your temperament and circumstances.
For example, conservative or income-seeking investors may want to emphasize utilities and Canadian banks in their portfolio diversification, because of these stocks’ high and generally secure dividends.
More aggressive investors might want to increase their portfolio weightings in Resources or Manufacturing stocks. For example, more aggressive investors could consider holding as much as, say, 25% of their portfolios in Resources.
However, you’ll want to spread your Resource holdings out among oil and gas, metals and other Resources stocks for diversification and exposure to a number of areas.
The best retirement investments: Stick with conservative estimates to account for unforeseen setbacks
As for the return you expect from investing for retirement, it’s best to aim low. If you invest in bonds, assume you will earn the current yield; don’t assume you can make money trading in bonds.
Over long periods, the total return on a well-diversified portfolio of high-quality stocks runs to as much as 10%, or around 7.5% after inflation. Aim lower in your retirement planning—5% a year, say—to allow for unforeseeable problems and setbacks.
Above all, it’s important to remember that while finances are important, the happiest retirees are those who stay busy. You can do that with travel, golf or sailing. But volunteering, or working part-time at something you enjoy, can work just as well.
Registered Retirement Savings Plans as an option for best retirement investments
Registered Retirement Savings Plans, or RRSPs, are a form of tax-deferred savings plan. RRSP account contributions are tax deductible, and the investments grow tax-free. When you later begin withdrawing the funds from your RRSP, they are taxed as ordinary income. RRSPs are the best-known and most widely used tax shelters in Canada.
A spousal RRSP is one way to achieve equal retirement income. Suppose you are the higher-income spouse. You can make contributions to a spousal RRSP, and claim the tax deduction. Your contributions to the spousal RRSP will count toward your annual RRSP deduction limits.
Your spouse can still contribute their full deduction to their own separate RRSP. When the money is withdrawn from the spousal RRSP years later, it is taxed in the hands of your spouse. That’s an advantage if he or she is still in a lower tax bracket.
Dollar-cost averaging brings automatic profits—and it’s one of the best retirement investments plans
The best retirement plan you can have is to start saving as early in your working career as possible. You then invest a steady or rising amount of that money in the stock market every year. When you follow this plan, you automatically profit from dollar-cost averaging. You will automatically buy more shares when prices are low, and fewer shares when prices are high.
In retirement, you reverse the process. You live off your dividends, and sell stocks only when you need more money. When you do that, you sell your lower-quality holdings first. That way, your sales have the added advantage of upgrading the quality of your portfolio.
Of course, you can improve your returns and cut risk if you structure your retirement investing around our three-part approach at TSI Network: Invest your money mainly in well-established, dividend-paying companies; spread your investments out across the five main economic sectors (Manufacturing & Industry, Commodities & Resources, the Consumer sector, Finance, and Utilities); and downplay or avoid stocks in the broker/media limelight.
That limelight tends to push up investor expectations to unrealizable levels. When unpleasant surprises come along, they can have a brutal impact on prices of stocks in the broker/media limelight.
Learn what you can do without
Start by doing a detailed study of how you spend your money now. Then, you analyze your findings to see what personal expenses you can cut or eliminate. This too can have fringe benefits, especially if it helps you break unhealthy habits. For instance, cutting out fast food can save the average Canadian anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars a year. In retirement, you’ll have time for a cooking class or two, and soon you’ll be able to cook better-tasting and healthier food than you can buy at any fast-food chain. The cost difference between home cooking and fast food can be substantial, and it’s like tax-free income.
What do you consider to be your best retirement investments? How have they performed in your portfolio? Share your opinions with us in the comments.
This post was originally published in 2016 and is regularly updated.