Retire With Income: Boomers Need a Lesson From Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss's famous work, "The Foot Book," is now burned in my brain, traveling so easily down my synapses, that I often find myself saying, during odd moments during the day, such as waiting for an elevator, "Left foot, left foot . . . "
Call me loopy, or sleep deprived, but I think there's something very important for investors in this book.
Specifically, I think the brokerage industry has gotten investors thinking too much about the left-hand side of their statements, which shows the growth of the portfolio and its total value, and not enough about the right-hand side, which details the income.
I was fine with this kind of thinking for younger investors with many years to retirement. But for Baby Boomers it's time to shift the mindset and learn a new investment language of retirement investing: Income, income, cash flow, cash flow.
To the consternation of many, Bill Gross recently said equities are dead. I don't think they're dead, but I do believe robust growth is dead for a few years. In its stead, investors need to think about the income they are realizing from their investments, with much less focus on the volatility of their investments.
Remember: Income, income, cash flow, cash flow -- especially the high levels of income that can be earned from stable companies around the world, producing real products and real cash flow. This should be the new mantra for Baby Boomers looking to maintain their standard of living in retirement.
As a result, I firmly believe Boomer investors need to go back to the kind of investing past generations did before the engineering of modern investment packaging and sophisticated investment technology. That is, they need to select individual stocks that will deliver income, maintain the kind of balance sheet that provides some measure of protection against market downdrafts and, finally, offer some prospect for growth, perhaps 2% to 3% annually above the income, or approximately equal to the rate of inflation. Focusing on income doesn't mean buying the Vanguard High-Dividend Yield(VYM) index fund paying a 3.2% dividend yield, or the S&P 500 yielding 1.96% as the core of your investment plan and letting it ride like you did in your 401(k). An over-allocation in this type of investment during the retirement phase will not provide the necessary cash flow many investors will need.