The average person works 90,000 hours before they retire but still requires income after leaving the workforce.

by Mark Gardner

The number one concern pre-and post-retirees have is not dying, it is running out of money! We face a longevity risk. Most Americans retire when they reach 65, but they may live well into into their 80s, 90s, even past 100. Wherever you are in that spectrum, an all-season portfolio could be the answer.

Many financial experts suggest you’ll need to replace at least 80% of the income you earned while working, but since most of us don’t have pensions this income will come from Social Security and your investment portfolio.

Social Security was never intended to be one’s sole retirement income and the stock market was not designed to provide a stable monthly return for the next 20-30 years. Today’s stock market is now the longest running bull market in America’s history. I predict that when the market turns from green, it will go straight to red with no yellow caution in between. Remember 2000 to 2002, when the market lost 49.5% in the S&P and 77.9% in the NASDAQ index? Remember October 19, 1987? In one trading day, the Dow fell 22.6% that’s a loss of $226,000 on $1 million portfolio. To lose 22.6% of your savings in one day is the equivalent of nearly ten years on the job. And that’s devastating.

Vanguard’s 2018 “Economic and Market Outlook” estimates the U.S. stock market will return 4.5% to 6.5% over the next decade, and that bonds will return around 2.5%. Since retirees need a pretty conservative portfolio because they don’t have time to weather market downturns, you may want to err on the side of caution and expect investments will return only 3% to 5%.
Ever heard of “sequence of returns risk”? If you suffer a market downturn early in retirement, you are spending while your portfolio is declining, you’re not going to get full benefit of a market recovery.

Everyone has non-negotiable monthly expenses and will require secure monthly income to pay those bills throughout retirement, but rarely does anyone factor in the cost of medication, therapy, rehabilitation, or skilled nursing care. Not to scare you, but are medical and long-term care costs part of your basic expense number? The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates that a 65-year-old couple should save between $241,200 to $326,000 simply to cover medical and drug costs they may face over the next 20-35 years. Mind you, that figure doesn’t include a budget for long-term care. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates show that mean healthcare spending for seniors is close to $6,000 annually. And seniors are statistically more likely to experience major health emergencies. Trying to fund all health and long-term care expenses from a financial portfolio is probably not the best approach. There are insurance options, but those are too complicated to quickly summarize.

Even if you don’t have a corporate pension as part of your retirement savings, your best strategy now may be to follow the lead of pension fund managers at corporations like Molson Coors, Dow Chemical, and Kimberly-Clark, just to name a few who, taking the impending bear market into consideration, are securing their pension assets now.

Warren Buffett’s number one rule is “Don’t lose what you already have.” To retire well, protecting your investment capital is one way to assure post-retirement income. Studies have shown that working with an investment adviser makes it much more likely that you will achieve your savings and investment goals. If you don’t work with an adviser now, consider doing so. It has been estimated that working with an adviser can add another 4% to 6% in returns each year to your portfolio.


Mark S. Gardner spent 23 years at Bear Stearns, overseeing the local Wealth Management department. Gardner has managed over $175 million for high net worth individuals and families in Dallas and at his boutique, family-run firm, RetireWellDallas, the mission is helping people retire happy! Offering the same blue-chip services of Wall Street giants, but with personalized attention and a focus on retirement income strategies, RetireWellDallas helps clients design tax advantage strategies and retirement income plans that optimize their Social Security benefits and investments, as well as plan long-term care, college funding for children and grandchildren, and much more. For a complimentary assessment of your financial plan, contact Mark via email at or call 214-762-2327.