How Should Your 401(k) Investments Change When You Retire?

In this segment of “Financial Planning Q&A” on Motley Fool Live, recorded on Dec. 1, retirement expert Robert Brokamp discusses some investment options to consider when nearing retirement.

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Robert Brokamp: Mike says, “I built my 401(k) with job earnings. When I retire, expect to have no additional money to put in the 401(k) only taking money out for expenses. How do my investment choices for 401(k) allocation differ in this scenario versus allocations of new money we’re still going in.”

First of all, I would say, unless you have an exceptional 401(k), it’s probably better once you retire to roll that money over to an IRA, because you will have far more investment choices and probably lower expenses. That’s not always the case. There are some 401(k)s that are exceptional, and even offer investments that are better than what you could get on your own, so you have to evaluate your 401(k) first.

It sounds to me like what you’re essentially asking is an asset allocation question. For me, the foundation of asset allocation for anyone who is near or in retirement is any money you need in the next five years should be out of stocks, and in cash, or short-term bonds.

For retirees, I’d call that an income cushion. That’s what I would say is the big difference you should have at least the next five years of expenses that you expect to withdraw from your portfolio in something safe. Then if you’re very aggressive or if you also have a pension, you could have the rest in the stock market.

But if you have a more moderate to conservative risk tolerance, then you probably want to have some money beyond that in safer investments as well, but that really is up to you. The Motley Fool does have an allocator tool as part of premium memberships.

Everyone watching this has a premium membership. Look on The Motley Fool website, look for the Allocator tool, and that can help you determine an asset allocation that might be appropriate for you.

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