Monday, May 27, 2013

What Retiring Later Means for Your Investment Portfolio and Your Life

English: Brocastle Manor retirement complex A ...
English: Brocastle Manor retirement complex A new development of apartments and a retirement home on the Brocastle estate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In case you're one of the rare 60-somethings who isn't close to retiring in this super awesome economy, then you've probably decided to forego retirement in lieu of another couple of years in the workforce. You're not alone. More and more people are working past 65 nowadays, deciding to push off the Golden Years for another couple of years or even decades. 

Thanks to this recession and the 2008/2009 stock market crash, many soon-to-be-retirees have lost their jobs and seen their finances in disarray. Hence, they now need to work longer just to support their lifestyle. If you're one of these people, I'm sorry to hear that. But what does postponing your retirement mean for your finances (investment portfolio) and your lifestyle? Is it all doom and gloom? The short answer is no. 

The long answer is a little more complicated than that. 

Think of this as opportunity

The Chinese word for crisis, as you might or might not know, literally translates into "danger" "opportunity". Courtesy of some 3000 year old philosopher who invented this word is a bit of wisdom. Behind every danger, there is opportunity. So instead of lamenting how the stock market crash wiped out half of your savings, think of this as your golden opportunity. 

Be glad that you are in the peak of your earning years - your paycheck could probably never be higher in this same type of economy (thanks to seniority). That means that you can plow all of your new savings into this market, and potentially buy stocks at very cheap prices! When the economy recovers, you'll make a killing! Like Warren Buffett says "buy when others are fearful". Thus, your retirement will be even better than it could have been without the opportunity to buy stocks in this poor economy. 

Now, if you've read my blog post before, you'd know that I think stocks are overpriced in the short term. But when the stock market correction does happen, that will be golden opportunity for anyone with the money to buy stocks. That's also why the rich-poor gap tends to widen. When the economy turns south, the poor are worse off than before. But the resilient will use this as an opportunity to bloom (financially) when the economy (and stock market) gets on track. 

Real Estate

Did you know that in the past year, more people joined the upper class than ever before? You're probably pretty shocked right now, because you'd think that everyone is dying and the world's coming to an end in this crappy economy. On the contrary, many of these new-found rich folks acquired their riches by investing in real estate, particularly rental real estate. 

Like I said before, this crappy economy is your golden opportunity. In your peak earning years, you have a huge advantage over youngsters - you're making more than they are, and in the right time too. Now is the best time to invest in real estate, with prices at rock bottom. 

On a side note, I'd like to share a story about investing in real estate rentals. 

The gist of the lesson is simple - go after commercial residential,  not residential. Here's why. 

A while back, I had a friend who rented a house out to these two young adults. At first, things were ok, as the couple paid the rent on time. But after a few months, things started going downhill real fast. It turns out that they did absolutely NO maintenance or cleaning on the house - it looked like a pig pen. Worse, the male was an alcoholic, meaning that there was a lot of domestic unrest and abuse going on. The couple had a child not because they loved children or had it by "accident", but because the government in their part of the country gives each family with a baby $2000 a month. 

Eventually, the government cut this funding, so the couple stopped paying, and because the law protects those who rent over the owners of the property, my friend couldn't even evict his tenants (they were getting rent for free!). What ended up happening was that there were reports of drug use in the house, the police raided the house and forced my friend's tenants to move. My friend got lucky. 

Case in point - in residential real estate law, the law protects those who rent. In commercial real estate law, the law protects the property owners. If you have A-holes for tenants - watch out. 

Stay Fit

Since you need to push back retirement now, it makes sense that you need to stay fit to live longer. There's no sense in buying a ton of stocks only to die 3 days before you retire because of a heart attack (obesity!). 

But if you think of it this way, by retiring later, you're essentially forced to stay fit (if you aren't already fit). Being fit can have a hugely positive impact on your life - you feel better, life is easier, you look better, and you live longer. When you're fit, you can do so many things that you could do before. Let's take myself as an example. Although I'm nowhere near retirement age (I'm only 27), I find that being "jacked" (as my friends like to say) has an insanely positive impact on my life - I can lift heavier things (more housework), I can enjoy more of life like extreme sports, and my girlfriend loves it :P. 

The Conclusion

So this recession isn't what we all wanted. I get that. No one wakes up and says "God, please get me fired today." But let's try to make the most of a bad situation  And you know the funny thing? A lot of times, by making the most of a bad situation we actually end up in a better situation than we would have been WITHOUT the "crisis" (danger, opportunity). 

Troy is an ex-entrepreneur and full time investor. He constantly scours the world, looking for great investment opportunities that will one day (hopefully) make him a centibillionaire  In addition, he likes to write about finance, investing, and trading (for all y'all traders out there). If you like this post, feel free to check out his blog.

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