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Understand Your Risk Tolerance to Better Plan for Retirement

What is your tolerance for risk? Knowing how well you handle the stress of uncertainty is very important when it comes to creating a more predictable retirement.
Part of retirement planning is dealing with the risks and also the potential for return on money you invest to help fund retirement.

Risk:  Measured by the potential for loss in the valuof your investments.
Return: The profit or loss on your investments.

Deciding how much risk to take is not just based on financial factors — it is also based on your emtoions. Some people are not comfortable watching the value of their investments go up and down with the  markets. This means they have a lower risk tolerance. Others may be able to better handle this. They may be focusing more on long-term results and not reacting to short-term events. Regardless of your risk tolerance, a successful investment strategy should give you the maximum potential return within your investment comfort level.

So what is your financial risk tolerance?

To help my clients determine this, I have them consider the following two things:
1. Historical performance of investment options.
2. Investment Time Horizon (or the number of years  you have left to save).
Historical Performance
The volatility of the funds you are considering investing in can be examined by looking at their historical performance. If from that performance you see major shifts in that particular investment vehicle and this is something that makes you nervous, you may wish to look at other less unstable options.
The following chart is a good example of the volatility of the market over a 25-year period, showing the ups and downs of stocks, bonds, cash, and inflation:

Investment Time Horizon
In addition to historical performance, you will need to look at how much time you have left to save, or the Investment Time Horizon — this will also help you determine how much risk you can take. This number should influence your investment strategy. The more years you have until retirement, the more risk you can accept because you have a longer time to hold your investments. This means that you can better weather the ups and downs ofPrinciple 7: Time your investments and take advantage of the overall long-term growth potential they offer.How many years do you have until you need to retire? I use the following guides to help my clients answer this question:
Long-term horizon (15 or more years):  If you have this much time to invest, you may want to consider placing at least some of your money in higher-risk investments to maximize potential returns. You have more time to take more risk.
Intermediate time horizon (5 to 15 years):  You are still able to invest for higher returns, but you may want to limit your overall risk. A major setback could affect the amount you’ll have after retirement (remember, you could live 15 or 20 years into retirement).
Short-term time horizon (5 years or less): You will want to limit your risk even more. If anything major happens to your nest egg at this point, the chances are slim that you will be able to make it up with just a few years of investing to go.  Do not take major risks here!
For more information on retirement planning options, contact me or Peter: 801-292-1099.
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