Retirement Planning

Have you set yourself up to enjoy the golden years with peace of mind?

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While the world is still feeling the long ripples of the economic meltdown that began 6 years ago, our economic institutions remain "too big to fail" -- at least in the minds of  millions of retired Americans and those soon to join their ranks. 

That's what we see when we review their retirement portfolios. I see it all the time: a new client comes in with what they believe to be a "diverse" portfolio. While it may be diverse in terms of Wall Street holdings, a solid retirement plan also requires diversity outside of a system that's "too big to fail," which could fail yet again.

When Wall Street falls, it shouldn't mean that Main Street must as well. There are three kinds of money retirees should have available for enjoying the golden years with peace of mind.

• Red money: can be defined as that which is tied to Wall Street, by far the most popular kind of investment, including stocks, bonds and mutual funds. I've been looking at the accounts of new clients for nearly three decades, and on average, 92 percent of their retirement plan is based in these investments. That's risky, especially as you get closer to retirement age or once you retire. You don't want 92 percent of your retirement premised on that kind of potential volatility.

• Blue money: is often referred to as "alternative investments," which typically include Real Estate Trusts (REITS), equipment leasing programs, precious metals such as gold and silver, high grade rare coins and collectibles. This "color" of money has been an important portion of the pie for success in my clients' investments; they were essentially unaffected by our recent economic collapse because they were so well diversified. This is a highly advantageous part of a portfolio because it historically creates good income with a low correlation to the stock market.

• Green money: is accounts that come with a guarantee of some sort. They are either backed by the FDIC, the Legal Reserve System, which is supported by the insurance industry, or insurance companies themselves. Not all wealth is created equally, and this is the safest kind of money you can have in your retirement plan. Green money includes investments in one's portfolio that have guarantees to not lose one's principal and, sometimes, one's earnings.

Investment in Wall Street should be much lower for those who are either retired or are about to be retired. Depending on a person's age, a good investment portfolio could include about 36 percent red money, 32 percent blue money and 32 percent green money. 

Curt Whipple, certified wealth strategist (CWS) and certified estate planner (CEP), is chief managing partner at the C. Curtis Financial Group, which he formed in 1986. Since then, Curtis Financial Group has counseled and advised individuals and corporations on their financial goals and decisions.

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