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Make Better Financial Decisions - (5 of 9) Be Diversified: Invest in Seven Ventures


 Better Financial Decisions with planassist in winter garden,Florida


Diversification is not a new concept; its roots stretch back thousands of years, and it remains a vital component of financial decision-making. King Solomon, regarded by many as the wealthiest man in human history, offered this timeless advice in Ecclesiastes 11:2: "Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land." This highlights the wisdom of spreading investments. This ancient principle is a cornerstone of the PlanAssist® process, emphasizing the importance of diversification.


As we delve into this topic, you'll notice significant overlap with your plan. Diversification is not only about spreading your investments across various asset classes and stocks; it's also about understanding how you are diversified to make financial decisions more confidently, quickly, and with reduced anxiety.


There are three key areas of your financial life that we aim to diversify: your investments, your income in retirement, and your tax liability.


Investment Diversification


Investment diversification involves spreading your assets across a range of asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, real estate, and potentially commodities or alternative investments. The goal is to minimize risk by ensuring that a downturn in one sector doesn't disproportionately impact your overall portfolio. It's also important to diversify within asset classes by holding a mix of sectors, geographies, and company sizes in your stock portfolio.


One simple method for achieving this involves using Target Date Funds. You select your anticipated retirement year, and these funds automatically adjust their allocations as you get closer to retirement. While this approach can be effective for part of your portfolio, it often doesn't provide the comprehensive coverage needed for a truly diversified strategy. Companies like Vanguard, Fidelity, and Schwab offer solutions to help you diversify your portfolios. Typically, your retirement accounts will offer a mix of options, including Target Date Funds and specific sector funds like the S&P 500.


I will delve deeper into this topic and outline two main strategies I recommend to clients seeking diversification. These strategies, known as the Core-Satellite and Bucket Plan, are widely used in the industry by different advisors and firms. I'll explain how I use them, but you might hear them referred to using different names or they might be tweaked by other professionals, although the basic concepts are likely the same.


To explain the diversification principles behind the Core-Satellite Strategy and the Bucket Plan, let's examine each strategy individually.


Core-Satellite Strategy


The Core Satellite Strategy is a dynamic and adaptable approach to portfolio management that combines the stability of a broadly diversified core with the targeted growth potential of satellite investments. This strategy is designed for practicality and effectiveness in real-life applications, making it a primary choice for those looking to make informed financial decisions without overcomplication.


At the heart of this strategy is the Core Portfolio, which acts as the stable foundation. It's composed of a wide range of investments across multiple asset classes, mirroring the market's overall performance. This portion is managed with a long-term growth perspective, subject to regular review and rebalancing to align with the investor's time horizon, risk tolerance, and goals. The predictability of returns from the Core Portfolio is proportional to the market's overall performance, offering a level of security and stability.


In contrast, the Satellite Portfolio comprises individual investments that may carry higher risk or offer more conservative options than the Core Portfolio. These selections are based on the unique attributes of each investment, providing an opportunity to achieve higher returns or pursue personal investment interests. The Satellite Portfolio allows for strategic adjustments based on changing market conditions or personal goals.


A key feature of the Core Satellite Strategy is its adaptability. Initially, an investor might allocate a smaller portion to the Core and more to Satellite investments. As one ages and priorities shift, the focus often moves towards expanding the Core Portfolio, providing greater stability and predictability in the investment approach.


By merging a well-managed Core Portfolio with selective Satellite investments, this strategy offers a balanced approach to achieving growth while managing risk. It allows investors to benefit from market performance while also pursuing targeted investment opportunities.


The Bucket Plan


This is a strategic framework for asset allocation that is based on 'Time and Purpose,' effectively addressing an investor's need for funds at different times in life, this works for people in their 40’s and well into retirement. This strategy is widely known and used, notably because Jason Smith authored an entire book titled 'The Bucket Plan,' delving into detailed methodologies for its application. Here, I will summarize and somewhat oversimplify it, but I believe the concept will be clear. By categorizing assets into three distinct buckets—Now, Soon, and Later—this plan provides a structured approach to financial planning, ensuring that liquidity and growth potential are balanced according to the investor's timeline.


Now Bucket


  • Purpose: To cover immediate needs within the next 12 months.

  • Investments: This bucket includes liquid assets for emergency funds, known upcoming expenses, and short-term income requirements. Assets are typically held in checking accounts, savings accounts, or short-term Certificates of Deposit (CDs) to ensure they are readily accessible and not subject to market volatility.

  • Example: John has $30,000 in his Now Bucket, which includes $10,000 in a savings account for emergencies, $15,000 in a checking account for monthly expenses, and $5,000 in a short-term CD for a planned vacation.

Soon Bucket


  • Purpose: For needs that are 2 to 10 years away.

  • Investments: This bucket contains conservatively managed investments to minimize volatility while still providing a safety net for the foreseeable future. It bridges the income gap between known income sources (like Social Security and pensions) and expected expenses without sacrificing the potential for some growth.

  • Example: Mary allocates $100,000 to her Soon Bucket, investing in a mix of bonds and conservative stock funds to prepare for her child's college education in 5 years.

Later Bucket


  • Purpose: Focused on long-term growth for funds not needed for six plus years.

  • Investments: Assets in this bucket are invested with the aim of significant growth, taking advantage of the market's potential for higher returns over time. This is where more aggressive investment strategies can be employed.

  • Example: Alex invests $200,000 in his Later Bucket, focusing on a diversified portfolio of stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs to grow his retirement savings over the next 20 years.

The strategic use of these buckets ensures a continuous flow of funds tailored to the investor's changing needs. For instance, as the Now Bucket depletes, it can be replenished from the Soon Bucket, which in turn can be supported by the Later Bucket as its investments grow. This methodical approach helps investors manage liquidity. The Core Satellite Strategy and The Bucket Plan offer complementary approaches to diversification that cater to different investor needs. The Core Satellite Strategy balances market exposure by combining core holdings with satellite investments, allowing for a diversified base while taking advantage of specific assets. On the other hand, The Bucket Plan focuses on aligning investments with financial goals over various time horizons by segmenting funds into near-term, medium-term, and long-term buckets.


Integrating these two strategies creates a comprehensive approach to diversification, with the Core Satellite Strategy diversifying across asset classes and The Bucket Plan diversifying across time horizons. Together, they help build resilient portfolios that can withstand market volatility while still pursuing growth. Most importantly, they align investments with an investor's unique financial landscape and objectives. Adopting these tailored yet disciplined diversification strategies helps ensure long-term financial security and prosperity.


Diversifying Income Streams in Retirement


This is a critical part of a retirement plan. I know some people want to just stop working altogether, or out of fear, keep working past when it is necessary and healthy. What is more common is that I have a lot of clients who find a balance and might work part-time, have a consulting role where they control the hours and time commitment, or have a small business that generates some extra income to take the edge off the budget.


If you likely are going to need supplemental income for a few years, start planning for it five years or so out, making the transition from full-time, to part-time, to fully retired fit your timelines, health, and goals. This can be a hard reality, but it's easier to do it upfront rather than find you have to go back to work after being retired for a few years. I find the latter is much more difficult emotionally, health-wise, and even to some degree, being productive.


Benefits of Integrating Work into Retirement


  • Financial Stability: Enhancing retirement income with part-time work or entrepreneurial ventures can ease financial burdens, enabling a more comfortable lifestyle without significantly depleting savings.

  • Mental and Emotional Well-being: Remaining active in the workforce helps keep the mind engaged and fosters a sense of contribution and identity beyond full-time work. This involvement is vital for mental health, counteracting feelings of isolation or lack of purpose.

  • Social Connectivity: Engaging in some form of work can broaden social circles, providing structure to daily routines and opportunities for personal growth and satisfaction.

  • Flexibility and Fulfillment: Part-time positions, consulting, or entrepreneurship offer schedule flexibility, allowing retirees to find a balance between work, leisure, travel, and family time. This equilibrium can enhance the retirement experience, making it more rewarding and enriching.

Consultation with a financial advisor is key to understanding how ongoing income impacts the overall retirement strategy, including tax considerations and the management of retirement accounts. This reiterates the importance of using planning tools to connect all the dots and decisions.


Income Diversification Conclusion In essence, a retirement plan that includes multiple income streams—like Social Security, pensions, part-time jobs, and investments—can lead to a more financially secure and fulfilling retirement. This approach provides a buffer against uncertainties and allows retirees to enjoy this phase of life with less financial worry.


Tax Liability Diversification


Minimizing your tax burden involves strategically using taxable, tax-deferred, and tax-exempt (tax-free) accounts. By diversifying investments across these accounts, you can manage and potentially reduce tax liabilities, optimizing investment growth over time.


Tax-Free: Investments in this category, such as Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s, grow tax-free, and withdrawals are also tax-free. Municipal bonds can provide tax-free income. Strategy: Contribute to these accounts when you expect a higher tax rate at withdrawal than your current rate. Advantages: Tax-free growth and withdrawals, particularly beneficial in retirement.


Taxable: These accounts don't offer tax deferral, meaning capital gains, dividends, and interest are taxed in the year they're received. Examples include standard brokerage and savings accounts. Strategy: Use these accounts for investments with lower tax rates, like long-term capital gains and qualified dividends. Advantages: Provide more flexibility for accessing funds without age restrictions or penalties.


Tax-Deferred: In tax-deferred accounts, like traditional IRAs and 401(k)s, contributions are tax-deductible, and taxes on earnings are deferred until withdrawal. Strategy: Maximize contributions when you anticipate a lower tax bracket in retirement than currently. Advantages: Immediate tax deduction and deferred taxation on earnings can lead to significant tax savings.


Conclusion: By strategically allocating investments across tax-free, taxable, and tax-deferred accounts, you can create a more tax-efficient portfolio that supports your financial goals across different life stages and tax environments, enhancing investment growth and managing tax impacts for your overall financial well-being.


Summary


Embracing diversification across your investments, retirement income sources, and tax strategies is a long-term endeavor that requires ongoing adjustments. Adopting this as a foundational goal can significantly impact your financial decision-making. This section aims to demystify the principles of diversification, ensuring you understand their importance. With this knowledge, you can confidently navigate financial decisions, whether managing your financial journey independently or evaluating an advisor's advice. Understanding and applying diversification strategies can help you make informed decisions that support your long-term financial well-being.


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Freequently Asked Questioned (FAQ)


1. What is financial diversification, and why is it important?

   - Financial diversification is spreading your investments across various asset classes, income sources, and tax strategies to minimize risk and enhance financial security. It's important because it helps protect your portfolio from significant losses due to market downturns in any sector or asset class.



2. What three key areas of financial life should be diversified?

   - The three key areas include your investments, retirement income sources, and tax liability. Diversifying these areas can lead to more confident financial decisions, quicker adaptations to changes, and reduced anxiety about financial security.



3. Can you explain the Core-Satellite Strategy?

   - The Core-Satellite Strategy combines a broadly diversified core portfolio, which acts as a stable foundation, with satellite investments that target specific growth opportunities or higher returns. This approach balances the predictability of returns with the potential for targeted growth.


4. What is the Bucket Plan, and how does it work?

   - The Bucket Plan is a strategic framework for asset allocation based on time and purpose, categorizing assets into "Now," "Soon," and "Later" buckets. Each bucket serves a specific financial need or timeline, from immediate expenses to long-term growth, ensuring liquidity and growth potential are balanced according to the investor's timeline.


5. How can working part-time in retirement benefit financial and emotional well-being?

   - Working part-time in retirement can enhance financial stability by supplementing income and easing the financial burden. It also supports emotional and mental well-being by keeping the mind engaged, fostering a sense of purpose, and expanding social connectivity.


6. What strategies can be used to diversify tax liability?

   - Diversifying tax liability involves using taxable, tax-deferred, and tax-exempt accounts to manage and potentially reduce tax impacts. This strategic allocation can optimize investment growth over time by taking advantage of different tax treatments.


7. How do the Core-Satellite Strategy and the Bucket Plan complement each other?

   - While the Core-Satellite Strategy focuses on diversifying asset classes for a balanced market exposure, the Bucket Plan diversifies across time horizons, aligning investments with financial goals over various stages of life. Integrating these strategies creates a comprehensive approach to portfolio diversification.







DISCLOSURE - All written content on this article is for information purposes only. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of Core Wealth Consultants. Material presented is believed to be from reliable sources, however, we make no representations as to its accuracy or completeness. Core Wealth Consultants, LLC a Registered Investment Advisor in the States of Florida, Indiana and Michigan. You should always consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation. Diversification and asset allocation does not assure or guarantee better performance and cannot eliminate the risk of investment loss.

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