Managing Income & Investments

As people get older, it's generally recommended that they invest more conservatively. That's because they need to use their investments to, in effect, write their own paycheck. To help your parents try to maintain a reliable source of income, talk to them about their investments and encourage them to consult with a financial advisor.

Here are some basic ideas to help them—and you—feel more secure about their financial future.

Simplify—There's no need to manage multiple accounts in multiple financial institutions. Consolidating accounts at a single bank or brokerage firm can make it easier to stay on top of investments, earnings and withdrawals.

Keep enough cash and cash investments on hand—Ideally, your parents should have one year's expenses in a relatively safe and accessible account, such as a checking or savings account, a money market fund or an extremely liquid cash investment. It can also be a good idea to have enough to pay for two to four years of expenses saved in a high-quality, short-term ladder consisting primarily of CDs, Treasuries or the highest-rated municipal bonds with staggered maturities of one to four years.

Review investments—Generally speaking, the older people are, the more conservative their asset allocation should be. That means investing less money in stocks and more in income-producing investments.

How someone might adjust their asset allocation as they get older

Focus on income—To provide a steady income stream, the investment focus should be primarily on bonds and cash investments.

Ways to do this could include any of the following:
  • Income funds. Invest in mutual funds specifically designed to provide income while preserving growth.
  • Laddering. Create a ladder of high-quality bonds, bond funds or CDs with maturities of one to seven years to generate income at regular intervals.
  • Annuities. Outside of a pension plan, an annuity is the only product that can guarantee income for life.1
Our Two Cents
If your parents have IRAs or other retirement accounts, they will most likely have to take Required Minimum Distributions beginning at age 70 ½. They should talk to their tax advisor about the simplest way to comply with IRS rules. If they don't take the correct distribution, they could be subject to a 50 percent tax penalty. For more information go to IRS.gov.

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1. The guarantee depends on the claims paying ability and financial strength of the issuing insurance companies.

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