Many people who do a good job of saving for retirement get the basics. They participate in a 401(k) plan, contribute 10% or more and make sure that they’re on track. But there are still mistakes you can make, even if you’re regularly putting away money for retirement. By not evaluating what kind of assets you have in your portfolio, you could be short changing yourself in the future. Read below to see what assets you should avoid in your retirement portfolio.
Define Your Goals
Before you can even consider pruning your assets, you need to decide what your goals are, what you need to do to get there and if your portfolio aligns with what you want. “Make sure that your asset allocation is aligned with your personal goals, the time frame that you envision, your risk tolerance and your return objectives,” said Patrick Quinn, Founder and CEO of Hat Tip Wealth Management. (For more, see: 5 Retirement Planning Mistakes You Might Already Be Making.)
You can’t make good decisions about what to cut if you don’t know what you want out of your portfolio. Do you want to retire in 10 years? Do you want to start your own business after leaving your current job? Are you hoping to retire as soon as possible?
Too Much of a Good Thing
Jennifer B. Harper, certified financial planner (CFP) and founder and Director of Bridge Financial Planning, LLC, said one of the biggest mistakes that you can make is having too much of the same kind of account. For example, if you already have tax-advantaged accounts such as a 401(k), traditional or Roth individual account (IRA), then having other tax-advantaged accounts like annuities and tax-free bonds doesn’t make sense. (For more, see: How to Avoid IRA Sabotage.)
A portfolio should always be diversified. That means having a variety of accounts for tax purposes. A certified public accountant (CPA) can be a good person to make recommendations on ways to lower how much you spend on taxes.
What’s the Return?
You need to examine your portfolio and see if any of the assets you’re holding are actually losing money. It’s not just about if certain investments are doing poorly, it’s also about if you’re holding ones that are growing slowly. If they’re growing slower than the rate of inflation, then you need to dump them. “Assets that aren't even keeping up with inflation don't belong either, or you're actually losing purchasing power,” Harper said. (For more, see: Combating Retirement's Silent Killer.)
Know Your Fees
If you’re holding assets that have huge fees, you could be eroding most of the value. Take a look at what the fees are and see if it makes sense to get rid of those investments. “It may also make sense to consider selling legacy mutual fund positions with high fees in favor of lower cost options,” Quinn said.
For those that might look at high fees as the cost of getting high returns, think again. Even a 1% expense ratio can be too much to pay. “In some cases you can reduce your cost of investment by as much as 90%,” said Andrew Mohrmann, CFP and founder of Modern Dollar Planning. “Look for index or other low cost options from providers like Vanguard, Dimensional Fund Advisors or iShares.” (For more, see: 8 Essential Tips for Retirement Saving.)
The Bottom Line
If you’re finding all this information confusing, talk to a professional. A certified financial planner can help you go through your portfolio’s assets and see if you’re holding some that you can get rid of. They’ll be able to tailor your portfolio to fit your retirement needs and offer advice on lowering your tax burden. Be sure to research what kind of assets you have so you can understand what recommendations your advisor will make and why. (For more, see: Top Tips for a Tax-Conscious Retirement.)