Stay Afloat with Retirement Lifesavers

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Physician's Money Digest, March15 2003, Volume 10, Issue 5

Almost no one has escaped therecent troubles on Wall Street.And the impact on soon-to-beretirees has been dramatic. Investorswho carefully saved and planned fortheir retirement years—investing in adiversified portfolio of stocks, bonds,and mutual funds—are now findingthemselves facing difficult choices.

A recent Gallup Poll showed that4 of 10 workers said they anticipatedpostponing their retirement, andanother 25% expressed serious concernover whether they will havesaved enough money to stop working.That's enough to make even thehardest working physician-investor inlove with their job a little queasy.

While you will have to examineyour particular situation carefully, itdoesn't require a financial expert'seye to figure out if your portfolio hasdiminished to a sizable degree andrequires adjusting. If you're one ofthe many physician-investors whoseportfolio has diminished substantially,take comfort in the fact that youhave choices.Your options include:

  • Working longer;
  • Taking on part-time work;
  • Putting away more of yourmoney in tax-free accounts whileyou're still employed;
  • Examining your retirementportfolio and adjusting it. Remember,if you've been using dollar-costaveraging, your money buys moreshares when the prices are lower. Itmay seem depressing now, butwhen the stock prices rise, yourholdings will be worth more;
  • Making lifestyle changes suchas moving to a smaller or less costlyhome or neighborhood, cutting backon vacations, selling a car, etc; and

Adjusting other financial mattersthat you can control. Seek theadvice from a financial planner tomake sure that you adjust your savingsand investment strategy to keepyour goals on track. In addition, ifyour son or daughter has alreadyapplied to college or has startedschool, you should notify the collegeof the change in your circumstances.It is possible for the schoolto offer a revised financial aid packagethat could include additionalgrants, loans, or work options toease the current burden.

The bottom line is that you willhave to make some changes to compensatefor investment losses. Somepeople will have to work longer thanthey originally anticipated, whileother people will only have to altertheir retirement plans slightly. Regardlessof which boat you're currentlyin, it's more important thanever that you make the smartestchoices for your particular situation.

You should also make sure youget the right advice. Many people areso scared of losing more money thatthey're selling stocks they bought justa short time ago. Be sure you'refocusing on the big picture ratherthan overreacting to the turmoil ofthe past 30 months. If you're feelinganxious or overly stressed about yourfuture, now may be the perfect timeto sit down and figure things out.

Stewart H. Welch III, founder of

the Welch Group, has been

rated one of the nation's top

financial advisors by Money,

Worth, and Medical Economics.

He welcomes questions or

comments from readers at 800-709-7100 or

www.welchgroup.com. Reprinted with permission

from the Birmingham Post Herald.