Investing

Should Inflation Impact How Investors Plan for Retirement?

People have had to contend with high inflation for some time now. And the general consensus is that this inflationary period is anything but transitory. With that in mind, how should long-term investors approach retirement planning? In this segment of Backstage Pass, recorded on Nov. 10, Fool contributors Rachel Warren, Connor Allen, and Taylor Carmichael answer a member’s question on this topic. 

Rachel Warren: We’re going to take a quick pause and look at some questions that have come in so far in the Slido. We have about 19 minutes left in the hour. I don’t know if either of you have had a chance to look at this. We have a question from Leo.

He said, “If we have had this inflation bump and you’re right, and we shouldn’t expect it to go back down, does that mean we should take our retirement target goal and increase it by 25%. For example, I had been figuring I’d need $3 million dollars to retire, should I now figure I’ll need $3.75 million?”

Do either of you guys have thoughts on that?

Connor Allen: I’m too young for this question. [laughs]

Taylor Carmichael: I’m too inexact. I’m not a planner like that. $3 million sounds like a lot. I think you’re good to go with $3 million. If you get $3 million I’d be happy with that. I could live on $3 million, I know I could. [laughs]

I feel confident that I can make it on $3 million. I definitely wouldn’t pull out and go to cash, not with inflation as bad as it is. Again, I like Schwab. If you don’t have Schwab, you might think of adding some Schwab. That was my one little nudge for the upcoming…Schwab when it was early in the 21st century, it was like from 2000, I forget the time frame.

Might have been 1995-2005 or 1997-2007, but there was a time in there, that 10-year period where Schwab was the best stock in the market. It can happen because Schwab is just amazing when you are in that rising interest rates environment.

If we’re shifting into that, so if the next 10 years is an environment where rates go up a little bit, Schwab is just a beautiful stock for that. Again, $7 trillion assets under management, they don’t pay a lot of interest because these are all trading accounts, stock accounts, so they pay very little interest out.

Any slight increase in interest rates just means billions to Schwab. Sometimes Charles Schwab writes an editorial in the New York Times or something and says, “Hey, we should raise interest rates.” [laughs] That cracks me up a little bit. I’m like, “That’s a nice view, Chuck. I get why you’d like them to go up.”

I’d never want them to go up. Inflation is bad. I say from the darkroom, inflation is bad. [laughs]

Rachel Warren: From the darkroom. What about you, Connor? Do you have thoughts on this?

Connor Allen: Yeah, I guess I can add to this a little bit. In the ’70s, I believe the ’70s was one of the worst inflationary decades that we’ve experienced until now. Stock market by percentage, if you just look at the performance of the stock market in the ’70s, it was really good. But you have to take into account what inflation did.

Inflation ate away a lot of those gains, but the people that stayed invested throughout the ’70s ended up OK. I think that’s a lesson that you can learn from that is, staying invested is important.

Obviously, taking out and pulling to cash is probably not a great idea for an inflationary environment. Yeah, you predict inflation will go up, but you don’t know what industries inflation is going to affect and what industries deflation is going to affect, and so you have like the Michael Burry versus the Cathie Wood argument people are talking deflation or inflation?

What I think the true answer to that debate is, is somewhere in the middle. I think that commodities might experience a lot of inflation, and then I think that a lot of tech might experience some deflation, and then I think there might be a mix somewhere in the middle. Trying to say, I’m expecting inflation to be 25% in the next five years, so I’m trying to retire, so I need to increase my retirement by 25%, it’s difficult to quantify what that’s going to be, so it’s hard.

Rachel Warren: Awesome. I agree. Obviously, everyone’s retirement goals looks different and everyone has a different amount they’re targeting and they’re comfortable with, and so I think the important point here we would say is the takeaway is staying invested through the tough times is very important, not trying to time the market, or certainly, cash out when things are bumpy is very important as well. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.




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