Objective vs. Subjective

Good Morning Relaxing Retirement Member,

You have built your foundation and you are now there!

You’ve determined just how dependent you are on your Retirement Bucket™, and you have forecasted out how dependent you are each year going forward (at least the next five years).

You’ve determined the real investment rate of return you must earn in order to have your Retirement Bucket™ remain intact for the rest of your life, despite your withdrawals and inflation.

You’ve tackled the 3rd question which is where do you position your Retirement Bucket to generate the long term rate of return you need to earn while experiencing acceptable levels of volatility and paying less taxes to the government?

Assuming you utilized Principle and Guidelines #1, #2, and #3, and you now have your Retirement Bucket™ holdings allocated exactly the way you need, Principle and Guideline #4 calls for you to assess your holdings on a strict timetable, and OBJECTIVELY rebalance.

‘OBJECTIVE’ vs. ‘Subjective’ Evaluation

Note that I used capital letters for the word OBJECTIVELY. The reason for this is that we have to remove our subjective emotions when investing.

It’s challenging to do, but it’s imperative if you want to be successful.

We can’t leave it up to how we feel on a given day.

For a recent example, if last year around this time (mid-February 2016) was your pre-scheduled time to objectively rebalance your Retirement Bucket™, how committed would you have been if you subjectively evaluated everything vs. objectively?

In case you don’t recall, using the S&P 500 market index as a barometer for a moment, prices had fallen over 11% in the first six weeks of 2016.

You remember the headlines, “The worst start to a year since 1929!”

Getting back to our strategy, would you be able to remain objective at this point and rebalance?

Emotionally and subjectively you would say “no way”.

“Not only do I not want to rebalance back into equities, I want to get out of them completely! This bad start to the year is only the beginning. I just feels like it!”

If you were able to objectively assess the situation, however, you’d conclude that it was an incredibly opportune time (as it has certainly proven to be).

Why?

To keep it very simple, let’s assume that you’ve followed each step in The Relaxing Retirement Formula™ so far, and your carefully calculated investment mix is to allocate 30% to fixed income and 70% to equity investments. (We don’t even need to get into specific investments yet to understand the principle. Let’s simply stick with a basic 30%/70% allocation without factoring in whether that’s a proper allocation for you or not.)

If this was true for you, and you hadn’t rebalanced in the prior six months or so, it’s highly likely that if you took a snapshot of your allocation February 11, 2016 (see above), it would look more like 34% fixed income and 66% equity investments because equity prices (in general) dropped.

If February 11, 2016 was your pre-scheduled date to evaluate and rebalance (if necessary), what would be the objective action to take?

The objective answer is to get your allocation back to your pre-established mix of 30%/70%, which requires you to add more money to the equity (stock based investment) side of your allocation. Take advantage of the extraordinary timing to buy your equities at lower prices.

In essence, what are you doing here? You’re buying “low” vs. buying “high”, exactly what an intelligent, objective investor would do.

Fast Forward to Last Friday (March 24, 2017)

If you then fast forward to last Friday, March 24, 2017, you would find that the price of the S&P 500 Index rose over 28% since last February 11, 2016.

Given this, had you rebalanced back on February 11, 2016, it’s highly likely that your pre-determined allocation was way out of balance the other way, i.e. 26% fixed income and 74% equity because equity prices rose sharply since you rebalanced last February.

If last Friday, March 24th was your next pre-scheduled date to evaluate and rebalance (if necessary), what action should you objectively take?

The answer, exactly like it was before in the opposite circumstance, is to get your allocation back to your pre-determined mix of 30%/70%, which now requires you to sell a portion of your appreciated equities.

And, in the case of most of our Relaxing Retirement members, take the opportunity to replenish your cash positions to the level you need to satisfy your upcoming withdrawal needs for spending.

In this case, you’re selling “high”, exactly what an intelligent, objective investor would do.

The bottom line is two-fold:

First, remain objective during good times and bad, as hard as that is during heightened market volatility. Emotional investors never win.

And, second, successful investing in your retirement years, when you’re dependent on your Retirement Bucket to provide you with monthly cash flow to cover your spending needs, is every different than investing during your “working” years.

It requires a carefully thought out, disciplined “system”. Random movement for the sake of movement is a recipe for disaster.

Criteria and Guidelines for Rebalancing

Now that we’ve outlined Principle and Guideline #4, the next step is to establish your criteria and guidelines for rebalancing.

There are many different reasons and criteria for rebalancing. Next week, we’re going to explore and expand on them.

Stay tuned.

Committed to Your Relaxing Retirement,

Jack Phelps

The Retirement Coach
P.S.: WHO do you know who could benefit from receiving my Retirement Coach “Strategy of the Week”? Please simply provide their name and email address to us at info@TheRetirementCoach.com. Or they can subscribe at www.TheRetirementCoach.com.
I appreciate the trust you place in me. Thank you!
(The content of this letter does not constitute a tax opinion. Always consult with a competent tax professional service provider for advice on tax matters specific to your situation.)