A common question that David gets fairly frequently is whether or not the LIRP can be a substitute for the bond portion of a portfolio. A lot of people are funding their LIRP’s out of stock market portfolios that are growing at an average rate of 8%. If that’s the case and they take money out of that portfolio to get a 4% return in their LIRP, doesn’t that neutralize the tax benefit that justifies doing the LIRP in the first place?
It can make sense for the LIRP to function as the bond portion of your portfolio, so long as you are actually funding your LIRP out of the bond portion of your portfolio!
Due to the recent precipitous drop in the stock market this question is popping up more often, but the stock market may be down but the bond market is not down nearly as much. Back in 2008, both the stock and the bond market went down at the same time. In that situation taking some money to fund a LIRP makes sense.
You have to recognize that if you are funding your LIRP out of your retirement portfolio, it makes sense to liquidate the bonds when the markets are down to fund your LIRP. This could also hold true with a fixed index annuity.
If you’re transitioning money from the bond portion of your portfolio to your LIRP, you should take a little more risk in the stock market in the meantime because a LIRP is typically less risky than the average bond portion of your portfolio.
If you are barely retired, most of the money you are planning on spending in retirement has even been earned yet. If you want your money to last as long as you do, you need to continue to grow that money over the course of your retirement.
If you take money out of your stock market portfolio during the first ten years of retirement you are exposing yourself to the sequence of return risk and if it’s done during some down years it could send your portfolio into a death spiral from which it will never recover.
Having two to three years’ worth of lifestyle expenses in your LIRP is how you want to cover expenses during the two or three down years you are likely to experience in the first ten years of retirement.
If you’re just retiring now, you’re going to have to fund it over the next five or six years and let it sit. You don’t want to touch the money until the eleventh year, there are some fees and expenses involved in the first ten years and it doesn’t make sense to tap into yet.
If you don’t have a funded LIRP that can cover the first ten years of retirement, your best bet is to have your lifestyle needs allocated to a time segmented portfolio.
The reality is that the LIRP can certainly replace the bond portion of your portfolio. Annuities are great because they can function as the best kind of bond, with higher rates of return and less risk, and can also allow you to take more risk in the rest of your stock market portfolio.
As you are transitioning your money to your LIRP from the stock market portfolio and as long as you are increasing the risk in the stock market allocation, you are likely going to get a higher rate of return with less risk overall.
You have to grow your money in retirement, this is not the time to go into hibernation mode.