You have likely seen in the news lately, the volatility for the stock market. You also have probably seen the ads for investing in the stock market. I know I have, and it has prompted me to ask, should seniors learn how to invest in the stock market? As a soon to-be-retired grandparent, with little money saved up for retirement, I found that making money in the stock market is a very tempting possibility. However, though, I see the ups and downs in the market, and I get a little scared about jumping in.
Well, after a lot of research, I’m here to tell you that seniors can and should learn how to invest in the stock market. But the key to making it work for you, is to get expert help. I thought you would be interested in where my research took me and how I came to this conclusion. So, read on below and tell me what you think.
A Few Definitions for the Stock Market Newbie
Portfolio: “The term “portfolio” refers to any combination of financial assets such as stocks, bonds and cash. Portfolios may be held by individual investors and/or managed by financial professionals, hedge funds, banks and other financial institutions. It is a generally accepted principle that a portfolio is designed according to the investor’s risk tolerance, time frame and investment objectives. The monetary value of each asset may influence the risk/reward ratio of the portfolio.” From Wikipedia
Bull Market: “A bull market is a period of generally rising prices. The start of a bull market is marked by widespread pessimism. This point is when the “crowd” is the most “bearish”. The feeling of despondency changes to hope, “optimism”, and eventually euphoria, as the bull runs its course. This often leads the economic cycle, for example in a full recession, or earlier. An analysis of Morningstar, Inc. stock market data from 1926 to 2014 found that a typical bull market lasted 8.5 years with an average cumulative total return of 458%, while annualized gains for bull markets range from 14.9% to 34.1%.” From Wikipedia
Bear Market: “A bear market is a general decline in the stock market over a period of time. It includes a transition from high investor optimism to widespread investor fear and pessimism. One generally accepted measure of a bear market is a price decline of 20% or more over at least a two-month period. A smaller decline of 10 to 20% is considered a correction. Once a market enters correction or bear market territory, it isn’t considered to have exited that territory until a new high is reached. From 1926 to 2014, the average bear market lasted 13 months with an average cumulative loss of 30%, while annualized declines for bear markets ranged from −19.7% to −47%” From Wikipedia
Allocation: “An amount or portion of a resource assigned to a particular recipient.” From Google Dictionary
People are living longer than ever. Fifty years ago, a 50-year old could expect to live an additional twenty years. Today the life expectancy of a 50-year old has increased to an additional 33 years. This could mean that the old patterns of investment (save now, spend when you retire) may not net you enough cash to make it through to the end of your life. Many seniors are finding that they have to keep re-investing funds in order to keep a nest egg for a longer period.
Stock Market Risk
If you are concerned about gains and losses, there is no more risk for an 80-year-old to invest than there is for a 20-year-old. They take on the same percentage of risk, depending on the investments they make.
The problem arises when there’s a bear market. During 2017, the stock market rose to unprecedented highs. Unfortunately, careless investors got a wake-up call when the stock market took a sharp correction. Stock prices fell drastically, and left a lot of investors with a fraction of value they once had in their portfolios.
When you are younger, you can take a few hits like that through the lifetime of your investments. However, when you are getting on in age, you would likely need access to your funds sooner, rather than later, and there would not be enough time to recover any sizable losses.
Sources of Income
As a retiree, if your income is a pension and Social Security, then stock market volatility will likely have little or no effect on your retirement income. However, if you are depending of dividends from stocks and mutual funds, or if you are withdrawing capital, a bear market can have some devastating effects.
Minimizing Your Risk
“Stock market risks for a senior citizen depend significantly on the person’s portfolio asset allocation. If the bulk of his investments are in bonds or bond funds and just a small portion is in the stock market, that allocation is probably age-appropriate. However, if the 80-year old owns a large portion of stocks or funds, even if he has owned those investments for years, some asset reallocation may be appropriate to reduce the exposure to a potential bear market in stocks.” From Finance.Zacks.com
Bear Market Worst Case: Another way to minimize your risk if you are investing in the stock market, is to calculate how much you can afford to lose in a bear market. The 2008-2009 bear market was one of the most severe with stocks dropping 50 percent in value. If your portfolio cannot tolerate a 50% loss, you may want to reallocate money to less risky investment options.
Work With a Financial Planner or Adviser
You certainly can invest in the stock market by yourself. But if you are a senior citizen who has retired or will retire soon, it’s really not a great idea to go it alone, especially if you have never invested in the stock market before. There are so many aspects to stock market investing that it takes someone with experience to know all the ins and outs, and the pitfalls that can drain your retirement if you aren’t careful. It’s best to find a trusted adviser who can help you manage all the aspects of your portfolio, including Social Security.
I have a two suggestions for places to get your own financial planner. Charles Schwab, and Edward Jones. I have worked with both of these companies in the past and have nothing but good things to say about them.
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By all means, learn how to invest in the stock market. But don’t go it alone. Get yourself a trusted professional finance manager that can help you with not only the stock market, but all or your income streams for retirement. Along with getting a financial consultant, do some studying yourself to find out what your best strategy is for investing in the stock market.
Please put your questions and comments below and thank you for reading!