Diversify retirement Portfolio how to

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Diversify retirement Portfolio how to

The ideal diversified retirement Portfolio sits on top of a solid financial foundation built with these pillars:

  • Enough life insurance to pay off all outstanding debt, including mortgage(s)
  • Enough liquid savings to cover six months worth of living expenses
  • Regular savings for vacations, hobbies, and fun activities

When our personal financial picture looks something like the image below we can enjoy life while allowing our retirement savings to grow over the long-term. 

Within our retirement Portfolio there are three categories of Investments:

  • Tax-deferred: pre-tax income contributed to IRS-approved accounts like 401K, 403b, 457, TSP, annuities, whole life insurance, etc. - we will pay taxes on this money when we take distributions in retirement - capital gains are taxed as income
  • Tax-exempt: after-tax income contributed to IRS-approved accounts like Roth IRA, municipal bonds, indexed universal life insurance, etc. - taxes have already been paid on this money so no taxes are due when it is distributed - capital gains are tax-free
  • Non-tax-advantaged: purchased with after-tax income invested outside any tax-preferred account - taxes will be due on this money when we sell the Investment - capital gains will be taxed as capital gains in the year of the sale

Tax-deferred

Taxed at distribution

Assets not taxed in the year sold *

Capital gains taxed as income

Tax-exempt

Not taxed at distribution

Assets not taxed in the year sold *

Capital gains are tax-free

Non-tax-advantaged

Distributions aren't a factor

Assets are taxed in the year sold *

Capital gains are taxed as capital gains

~

* Active investors can buy and sell securities and even real estate inside tax-advantaged accounts like self-directed IRAs. No capital gains are paid in the year of the sale so 100% of the gains can be re-invested. In contrast, when Investments are sold outside of tax-advantaged accounts, capital gains are due in the year the sale occurs.

Investment category

Taxed at distribution

Taxed when sold *

Capital gains

Tax-deferred

Yes

No

Taxed as income

Tax-exempt

No

No

Tax free

Non-tax-advantaged

n/a

Yes

Taxed as capital gains

* Active investors can buy and sell securities and even real estate inside tax-advantaged accounts like self-directed IRAs. No capital gains are paid in the year of the sale so 100% of the gains can be re-invested. In contrast, when Investments are sold outside of tax-advantaged accounts, capital gains are due in the year the sale occurs.

Retirement Portfolio models

There are a few retirement Portfolio models that investors commonly adopt:

  1. Guaranteed outcome
  2. Interest income
  3. Simple
  4. Diversified
  5. Hope and pray (that Social Security will be enough)

Guaranteed outcome

In the guaranteed outcome retirement Portfolio the investor chooses Investment vehicles that have fixed returns. This strategy trades the potential for higher Investment returns in favor of the safety and security provided by a guaranteed outcome.

Typical Investments in the guaranteed outcome category are bond ladders (investor buys a bond that matures in each year of retirement), annuities, and CDs.

Interest income

The interest income retirement Portfolio model focuses on Investments that provide income in the form of interest and dividends. Like the guaranteed outcome model, this strategy favors financial security over the potential for higher returns in riskier Investments.

Common vehicles in this category are CDs, government bonds, AA-rated and higher corporate and municipal bonds, and select dividend stocks.

Simple

In the simple Portfolio model the investor allocates funds to three categories of Investments: stocks (growth), bonds (income), and emerging markets (aggressive growth). The percentage of Portfolio funds allocated to each category changes based on the investor's age and tolerance for risk.

Mutual funds and ETFs are commonly used to setup a simple retirement Portfolio. Some of the large Investment management companies suggest simple Portfolios using just three of their Mutual funds.

An important point to understand about this Portfolio model is that the components of emerging market Mutual funds and ETFs are typically stocks and bonds from international markets. 

Some Financial planners will suggest that the emerging market exposure provides diversification for the overall Portfolio but notice that the simple Portfolio model only consists of two asset classes: stocks and bonds.

Also notice that both of these asset classes are 'paper' meaning they aren't backed by anything tangible. From this perspective the simple retirement Portfolio only consists of one asset class: paper. 

Diversified

A diversified Investment Portfolio includes exposure to stocks and bonds while adding in alternative asset classes like Precious metals and rental real estate.

The objective is to create a Portfolio that is more resilient to changing market dynamics over time. Gold and Silver, for example, are alternative Investments that often perform well when stock markets are suffering or the broad economy is dealing with the ravages of Inflation.

Some Financial planners suggest that a Precious metals allocation of just 5 or 10% of the overall Portfolio can serve as an insurance policy for the other Investments.

Residential rental properties provide the potential for income, capital gains, and tax advantages. Purchasing rental real estate inside a self-directed IRA allows an investor to double-up on tax bennies. If the income property is located in a Qualified Opportunity Zone (QOZ) there may be additional tax benefits.

Hope and pray

Hope and pray (that Social Security is enough) is not a recommended strategy for retirement planning, obviously, but that is the unfortunate reality for most Americans these days. With the rising cost of living and stagnant wages, most adults are essentially living paycheck-to-paycheck with a very thin margin of financial safety. There is very little, if any, money available for retirement savings.

Some studies suggest that many American families are 90 days away from bankruptcy and six months away from being homeless if the primary income-earner were to lose their job.

In all likelihood, you are not following the hope and pray strategy or you wouldn't be reading this material. Kudos to you for taking a proactive approach to your retirement savings plan. With just a little bit of knowledge and some strategic planning you can make a significant difference in your long-term Investment results. 

The image below depicts how a mix of tax-deferred, tax-exempt, and non-tax-advantaged Investment funds are used to implement a simple retirement savings plan.

In a diversified Portfolio we reduce the allocation to stocks and bonds while introducing alternative asset classes like real estate and Precious metals.

Retirement Portfolio allocation

There are several layers involved in retirement Portfolio allocation.

Tax treatment

At the highest level we allocate funds among the three Investment categories discussed above: tax-deferred, tax-exempt, and non-tax-advantaged.

There may be Portfolio constraints that arise at this level of planning as we try, in general, to maximize tax-advantaged retirement savings.

For example, there may be years when the investor's income isn't large enough to provide for savings in the tax-exempt (after-tax) and non-tax-advantaged categories. Taking advantage of employer-provided tax-deferred retirement savings plans (401K, etc.) may be all that is possible. 

When employer-provided matching programs are available it makes sense to take advantage of them to the fullest extent possible. For example, if an employer is offering to match 2% of an employee's salary in 401K contributions, it is hard to justify not taking advantage of that offer regardless of how tight the investor's cashflow is at the time.

Our primary objective at this level of planning is to determine how much money is available for retirement savings and to get a sense for how that money is (or will be) allocated between tax-deferred, tax-exempt, and non-tax-advantaged Investments.

Mix of asset classes

Our second layer of planning involves allocating funds into specific asset classes like stocks, bonds, and the Precious metals.

In simple Portfolio models there are only two asset classes involved: stocks and bonds. When the investor is young and more tolerant of risk the Portfolio is weighted towards growth over safety (e.g., 65% stocks and 35% bonds). As the investor ages this simple Portfolio model shifts to favor safety over growth (e.g., 35% stocks and 65% bonds).

When we add alternative asset classes like real estate and Precious metals Portfolio planning becomes more interesting because the investor has greater freedom to express personal preferences. For example, an investor who likes real estate may weight their overall retirement Portfolio towards rental property instead of stocks and bonds. "Gold bugs" may favor the Precious metals and plan their retirement savings accordingly.

Gold bug

A person who expounds on the virtues of Gold and Silver as the only asset classes on planet Earth satisfying all of the characteristics of "money": durability, portability, divisibility, uniformity, limited supply, and acceptability.

While the Gold bug might weight their retirement Portfolio 65% Gold, 25% stocks and 10% bonds, the real estate buff could allocate the bulk of their retirement savings towards purchasing rental property.

After determining how an investor's personal preferences affect the overall retirement Portfolio we can dive into the next layer of planning. In the image below we are drilling down into the Precious metals segment of a Portfolio.

How to diversify stock Portfolio

Because most retirement plans are based on the simple Portfolio model containing only stocks and bonds, a common question that investors ask is how to diversify a stock Portfolio.

At Satori Traders our answer to that question will always include Silver and Gold because that is our specialty. When it is appropriate we also recommend income-producing residential real estate. Self-directed IRAs provide a tax-advantaged way to own these alternative Investments.

The investor's reason for diversifying their Portfolio will affect how the diversification is implemented.

Conservative investors wanting to increase Portfolio safety and stability may achieve all of their Investment objectives by simply transferring 5 or 10% of their Portfolio value into a Precious metals IRA.

If the objective is to flee traditional investments because stocks and bonds are part of the 'everything bubble' created by the rampant printing of fiat currencies, then more aggressive diversification is needed.

Fortunately, the IRS is pretty good about letting us move our tax-advantaged Investment funds around without tax consequences.

Since the Taxpayers Relief Act of 1997 self-directed IRAs have provided a safe haven for investors wanting to convert paper securities (stocks and bonds) into tangible assets inside their tax-favored retirement accounts. Using self-directed Traditional and Roth IRAs it is technically possible to move 100% of existing retirement savings out of paper assets and into tangible goods.

As always, do your own due diligence before making any Investment decisions. Consult with your personal Financial planner, Investment advisor, and tax professional before altering your current retirement savings plan. These specialists can make recommendations appropriate for your unique circumstances and tolerance for risk.

In the image below we zoom-in on the Precious metals segment of our diversified Portfolio model to show three categories of Investments. The Foundation consists of physical Silver and Gold purchased with non-tax-advantaged funds. This metal is stored locally in a commercial vaulting facility or perhaps buried in farmer Joe's back 40 under the old elm tree ('nuf said).

Once the Foundation is in place the rest of the Precious metals Portfolio can be constructed with either tax-deferred, tax-exempt, or non-tax-advantaged funds. Notice that Gold IRAs can be purchased with either tax-deferred or tax-exempt funds.

Physical metal, stored locally

Purchase with non-tax-advantaged funds

Physical metal, stored remotely

Purchase with non-tax-advantaged, tax-deferred, or tax-exempt funds

Precious metals securities

Purchase with non-tax-advantaged, tax-deferred, or tax-exempt funds

Simple retirement Portfolio

As discussed above, the simple retirement Portfolio model involves a mix of stocks and bonds that varies over time based on the investor's risk tolerance and age.

Most of the major Investment management companies make it easy to implement a simple Portfolio using just a few Mutual funds or ETFs.

Vanguard for example offers the Total Stock Market, Total International Stock, and Total Bond Market Mutual funds. Investors can allocate their retirement savings to a mix of these three funds and be done with their Investment decisions.

When the time is right, a simple retirement savings Portfolio can be converted into a diversified retirement Portfolio with just a few changes.

How does Gold IRA work

Gold IRAs allow us to diversify our existing retirement savings into physical Precious metals.

At distribution time we can either convert the Silver and Gold back to cash or have the Custodian discreetly mail us the physical metal.

Physical Silver and Gold can be passed-on to beneficiaries (following the relevant IRS guidelines for gifting, of course).

Gold IRA

A self-directed IRA where a third-party Custodian holds physical Precious metals on the behalf of the investor. Also known as "Silver IRAs" and "Precious metals IRAs".

There are Traditional Gold IRAs for tax-deferred money and Roth Gold IRAs for tax-exempt money.

As long as the tax category (tax-deferred vs tax-exempt) is maintained, existing retirement funds can be moved into a Gold IRA without incurring any tax consequences.

Most IRS-approved retirement accounts are eligible for a Gold IRA rollover including 401K, 403b, 457, TSP, Traditional / Roth / SEP IRA, annuities, and pension plans. 

The Gold IRA companies all provide knowledgeable representatives who can help you answer specific questions.

These representatives are also salespeople so understand that they will try to motivate you towards taking immediate action when you call.

Refer to the Gold IRA page on the website for tips on selecting the best Gold IRA to meet your specific Investment objectives.

You can learn more about Precious metals IRAs by following the links below and requesting the Gold IRA companies' free information kits.

Precious metals IRA company

Fidelity

  • Founded: 1946
  • BBB rating: C-
  • Proof Coins: No
  • Minimum Investment: $1,000

Patriot Gold Group

  • Founded: 1990
  • BBB rating: A+
  • Proof Coins: Yes
  • Minimum Investment: $15,000

Birch Gold

  • Founded: 2003
  • BBB rating: A+
  • Proof Coins: Yes
  • Minimum Investment: $10,000

Goldco

  • Founded: 2006
  • BBB rating: A+
  • Proof Coins: Yes
  • Minimum Investment: $25,000

Regal Assets

  • Founded: 2010
  • BBB rating: unrated
  • Proof Coins: Yes
  • Minimum Investment: $10,000

Noble Gold

  • Founded: 2017
  • BBB rating: A-
  • Proof Coins: Yes
  • Minimum Investment: $2,000

Gold IRA

Year founded

BBB rating

Proof Coins

Minimum Investment

Fidelity

1946

C-

No

$1,000

Patriot Gold Group

1990

A+

Yes

$15,000

2003

A+

Yes

$10,000

2006

A+

Yes

$25,000

2010

unrated

Yes

$10,000

Noble Gold

2017

A-

Yes

$2,000

Conclusions

In this article we've focused on how to diversify a retirement Portfolio and suggested Precious metals and income-producing residential real estate as alternative Investments.

Common retirement Portfolio models were covered and a significant shortcoming of the simple Portfolio model (only one asset class: paper) was highlighted throughout.

Retirement Portfolio allocation was addressed from the perspectives of both asset class and tax treatment of the Investment.

Alternative Investments were suggested as a way to diversify a stock Portfolio and self-directed IRAs were emphasized as a way to  move existing retirement funds into Precious metals and real estate.

Refer to the Gold IRA page on the website to learn more about tax-advantaged investing and Precious metals IRAs. 

   

Bryan V Post is a California-registered Investment Advisor Representative specializing in the Precious metals.

He is the founder and CEO of Satori Traders LLC, a California-registered Investment Advisor.


Bryan has worn numerous hats during his life:

Engineer, Portfolio manager, Precious metals Investor, Technical analyst, Proprietary trader, Swing trader.