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Changing ER plans...in the middle of the stream
Old 06-29-2008, 02:28 PM   #1
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Changing ER plans...in the middle of the stream

The good news: After crunching numbers and having some long talks about lifestyle and income requirements, my wife and I have decided it's possible and desirable to move up ER by two years. We're aiming for a departure of just about 2 years from now.

Long-term, our two COLA'ed pensions will provide 85%+ of our desired income, and if necessary, we could get by on them alone without making huge sacrifices. However under our new plan, they won't kick in until 5 years after we leave. In order to pull this off, we'll need to heavily tap our pre-tax plans - we each have a 401k, 457 and 401a. The plan is to survive these 5 years by draining both 457's (no early withdrawal penalty), and rollover all of the other plans to IRA's so we can take the max 72t withdrawal.

The problem - our current allocation and contributions were set up with a longer term plan in mind, with much less reliance on the pre-tax money near term. As such, I made the decision to be pretty aggressive with it...and needless to say, it's been taking a beating. I need to do something to reduce the volatility, but am unsure how and when to best to approach this.

One thought I had, is to make few if any changes to the existing allocation immediately, but change 100% of our future 457 contributions to the lowest risk, lowest return options available to us. We could contribute enough over the next 2 years to this "bucket", to last us through the end of 2011. The thought/hope being, that the existing funds might start making some recovery over the next 3 years, during which time I can gradually change the allocations without taking too much of a bath.

I realize the above may border on the dreaded "market timing" I've tried to avoid, but short of working longer and sticking to our original plan, the only other option I see is taking our lumps right now.

Any words of wisdom? I'm pretty tough...feel free to include ridicule for my past actions as well, in the interest of educating others.
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Old 06-29-2008, 03:42 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Da Nag View Post
One thought I had, is to make few if any changes to the existing allocation immediately, but change 100% of our future 457 contributions to the lowest risk, lowest return options available to us. We could contribute enough over the next 2 years to this "bucket", to last us through the end of 2011. The thought/hope being, that the existing funds might start making some recovery over the next 3 years, during which time I can gradually change the allocations without taking too much of a bath.

This would be my choice as you won't "lock in" losses. Be sure to redirect interest/dividends to them as well.

DD
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Old 06-29-2008, 04:59 PM   #3
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One big thing to keep in mind...taxes. You need to smooth out how much taxable income you are withdrawing instead of doing it in one big burst.

The more taxable income you withdraw, the higher your marginal tax rate is going to end up being.

One way I have heard of to avoid this is to take a low-interest, fixed HELOC, live mostly off of that, and set aside the money you had been planning on living on into something that has only moderate risk/growth in order to keep up with the interest costs and principle payments. You also get a tax deduction this way.

Of course, if you are averse to using any sort of debt, this may not be ideal for you, but HELOCs are still pretty low cost for now.

There may be other creative, low-risk methods as well, just passing on one I heard from someone recently retired.
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Old 06-29-2008, 07:53 PM   #4
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Another option (and could be done in concert with the idea you already have) is to rebalance slowly...taking maybe 5% out of equities into safer investments every 6 months. This avoids having to be perfect in your timing.

Dave
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Old 06-30-2008, 08:33 AM   #5
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I like the idea best of putting in your money as it is now and reinvesting the dividends from your bond/stock allocation into the low risk/low return options. If you are not touching it for a couple of years, it seems that will be the most tax-advantageous option, and doesn't take too much market timing.
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