Sunday, July 22

Week 368 - Are You A Baby Boomer (54 to 72 years old) With Only $25,000 In Retirement Savings?

Situation: Here in the United States, a third of you have less than $25,000 in Retirement Savings.

Mission: Assess options for a healthy married couple with a household income of $59,000/yr, whose breadwinner will retire when he or she reaches age 66 and the household starts receiving an initial Social Security check of $2,123/mo . Assume that they have $25,000 in retirement savings in an IRA, with an initial payout of $75/mo.

Execution: see Table.

Administration: The options for the couple to receive an income from their $25,000 IRA are unattractive. They’ll need a relatively safe way to come up with an income of 3-4%/yr from that $25,000, a way that grows the principal at least as fast as inflation (historically 3.1%/yr). That growth rate can be predicted from the 5-yr growth rate for the quarterly dividend. To have enough confidence in that stream of income, their only option is to find half a dozen high-quality stocks with low price variance (5-yr Beta less than 0.7) and secure dividends. 

They should be able to live reasonably well on $2,198/mo, given that the poverty line for a household of two is $1,372/mo. But let’s break it down: They’ll pay at least $900/mo for housing (rent, tenant’s insurance, and utilities), so they’re left with $1,300/mo to cover the consumer price index categories of food and beverages, apparel, transportation, medical care, recreation, education and communication, and other goods and services. “Other goods and services” include restaurant meals, delivery services, and cigarettes. Food will cost at least $250/mo. Now they’re down to ~$1,050/mo to cover clothing, car expenses, Medicare premium plus deductibles and co-payments, smartphones, meals out, vacations, delivery services, and cigarettes. Owning, maintaining, and operating a used car for 5,000 miles/yr will cost ~$625/mo, which leaves $425/mo for clothing, healthcare, smartphones, meals out, vacations, delivery services, and cigarettes. To avoid selling the car, one of them will need to find a part-time job. New clothes, dining out, and travel will be hard to fund. Out-of-pocket healthcare costs will go up, so they’ll need to save money by avoiding alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and sweets. 

Bottom Line: When a couple is facing a retirement that will be funded only by the average Social Security payout at full retirement age ($25,476/yr), they won’t be living much above the Federal Poverty Level for a household of two ($16,460/yr). It they own a home, they’ll no longer be able to afford to maintain it and pay property taxes. So, they’ll need to sell it and invest the residual equity. Maintaining their car will barely be affordable. Having $25,000 in an IRA will help, but a third of couples in their situation will retire with an even smaller cushion. In our Table for this week, we show how $75/mo is the expected income from an IRA of $25,000 value that has an average dividend yield of 3.6%/yr.

Risk Rating: 4 (where US Treasury Notes = 1, S&P 500 Index = 5, and gold bullion = 10)

Full Disclosure: I dollar-average into NEE, KO, and JNJ.

"The 2 and 8 Club" (CR) 2017 Invest Tune All rights reserved.

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