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A Baby Boomer's Journey from Retirement Planning to Retirement Living

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Securing Your Retirement Income
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Regular readers of this blog may recall that I have been studying the work of Zvi Bodie, a professor of finance at Boston University. (I mentioned Prof. Bodie in my post on Retirement Income and the Myth of Equity Risk.) After much consideration, I’ve decided to adopt Prof. Bodie’s concepts into our retirement income plan. More particularly, I have created a plan to provide guaranteed retirement income. I will explain.

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Retirement Planning for Baby Boomers
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I’m back again after a long blogging layoff. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to write about. I was just concentrating on life as it happened, pushing the reflection and writing to the back burner. Now I seem to have a little breathing room. So I will update you. Please read on if you are interested.

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I called the national Social Security phone line last week to discuss survivor benefits. (More on that later.) Of course, the person I spoke with could not actually process my claim.  Instead, he had to schedule a future telephone appointment to do that, with my local Social Security office. The first available appointment time was in August. Keep that in mind if you need to apply for a benefit that cannot be processed online. Before I called to file a claim, I did a lot of research on what I was about to do. Given my circumstances, determining the optimum filing strategy was quite complicated.

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I finally got busy this week doing a lot of work on my retirement spending plan. This has been a work in progress for several years as I have acquired TIPS and I-Bonds as part of my Failsafe Retirement Plan grand strategy. But interesting things are happening (including getting older) and the time has come for me to get more specific with a plan for how I am going to use my retirement assets to provide spending money. I’ll try to explain my logic without giving too much away or boring you.

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Investing for Retirement
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I hope that most baby boomers who are close to retirement have developed a fundamental understanding of the “sequence of returns” risk as it applies to their retirement security. In a nutshell, the sequence of returns risk tells us that the annual returns on our retirement investments do not by themselves determine whether our retirement nest egg will support us until we die. Rather, we must also carefully consider when those returns occur. For example, a significant market downturn at the commencement of our retirement – say at age 65 – is much more dangerous than if the same downturn occurs ten years later, at age 75. Let’s think more about this for a minute.

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This past fall and winter I added some new investments to my retirement portfolio. The investments are known as target date bond exchange traded funds. Sometimes they are referred to as “target maturity” bond funds.  This type of investment is new.  The target date bond ETF category shows great promise for providing bond-like retirement income with little or no interest rate risk.

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Although I have been slow posting in recent months (now being remedied), I have continued to track my net worth as I move ever closer to retirement. (I say “ever closer” despite not having selected a retirement target date.) I have also made some recent changes in my investments with others planned in the coming weeks. The objectives for these changes are to a (a) increase certainty of income in future years and (b) simplify.  I will write more about these changes next week.

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It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve been away from writing with Mark on this blog for so long! It’s been far too long! So much has happened during that time. Many wonderful things, people and events have come into my life. But, I’ll defer to Mark and let him catch up on some of these great happenings.

I want to turn my thoughts instead to other, more somber, areas: grief, gratitude and healing.

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Let’s start by acknowledging that my high school class of 1969 likes to party. Thanks to the hard work by one of our loyal classmates and her helpers, we’ve had full-blow reunions every 5 years since graduation. (I’ve been to every reunion starting at 20 years post-graduation.)  Our class motto was “Class of ’69 Drinks Bud.”  (Technically, this was an unofficial motto because it appeared in print only once – on a large helium balloon attached by a group of us to the top of our high school flag pole during senior week.)  Last weekend, we collectively affirmed our partying ways when 70 of us returned to Ithaca for a class 65th birthday party.

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I recently revised and update my plan for communicating information about my finances and online life to my three sons. I did this to make it easier on them when I die and to make it easier on me if, before I die, I become ill to the point that I cannot handle my own affairs.

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