Staying on Track
The world never stands still — and neither should your portfolio. As changes happen in your life and the economy that could impact your future, it makes sense to adjust accordingly.
Significant life events
- Receiving a raise or inheritance may mean you have more money to contribute to your plan.
- Changes in marital status may mean you need to revise your beneficiary form and review your entire financial plan.
- Changes in tax laws may mean you can contribute more to your 401(k) or IRAs than you have been. Make sure you stay on top of contribution limits and discuss your options with your financial advisor.
- Job changes may mean it's time to consolidate a previous 401(k) within your current employer's plan, or roll them over into another vehicle such as an IRA.
By following up on the changes you have identified in your annual review, you can ensure that your retirement strategy remains current with your personal circumstances.
As an investor, you'll want to be aware of economic indicators and how they may potentially affect your portfolio.
- The Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
This is a measurement of overall economic growth. The rate of growth is particularly key — historically it has averaged between 2.5 and 3 percent annually, although there have been considerable fluctuations. The GDP is the total market value of all goods and services produced in the country in a given year. A country's rate of growth is important to investors because healthy growth may translate into relative stability in the financial markets.
- Interest rates
As controlled by the Federal Reserve, interest rates are related to our nation's growth rate and therefore can influence the performance of the financial markets. If the Fed believes an economic slowdown is likely, it may lower short-term rates in an attempt to stimulate the economy. When economic growth is strong, historically the Fed has followed the opposite strategy and has raised interest rates with the goal of preventing runaway growth (which can lead to inflation).
This figure represents the increase in the cost of goods and services over time and is measured by the Consumer Price Index, or CPI, on a monthly basis. While the inflation rate recently has averaged close to 4.0 percent, historically it has varied considerably through the years. Inflation is a major concern to retirement investors. When investing for retirement, it's important that your rate of return exceeds the rate of inflation.