These articles are all part of what we’re calling the "Retirement Millionaire lifestyle"… a lifestyle that lets you lead a rich retirement no matter how much money you might have. We’ve gotten thousands of people interested in this new way of looking at life and retirement. But I have a confession for all of those people:
When I sit down to write Retirement Millionaire, I don’t have them in mind.
You see, I write to my mother.
My mother lives in the Midwest and has always been a housewife. While she knows she can depend on me for serious financial assistance if she ever needed it, she’d rather stay independent. So she guards her nest egg like a pit bull. She can’t afford to take big risks with her money… She’s more concerned with return OF capital than return ON capital.
And as many folks are finding out these days, Wall Street couldn’t care less about returning your capital. In addition to the $150,000 cars and million-dollar New York condos, Wall Streeters are far more concerned with keeping their clients ignorant. This keeps their "fee faucet" flowing day and night. I saw this mindset every single day when I worked on Wall Street. That’s why my No. 1 job is to protect my mother and my readers from big money mistakes.
It’s also why I dedicated much of my most recent issue to saying (not in these exact words), "Mom… it’s still too dangerous to buy stocks right now. You’re retired, and stocks just aren’t safe enough or cheap enough for your money yet."
Call me old-fashioned, but I like to be heavily in stocks only when they present outstanding values. I like to buy world-class companies for five to 10 times earnings (the so-called price-to-earnings ratio, or P/E). Those are the values you get when the markets have truly bottomed out… when the public totally gives up on stocks. Take 1980, for instance…
Back then, the Dow Industrials and stocks like ExxonMobil traded between seven and eight times earnings. Right now, P/E ratios are above those levels… and earnings are still decreasing. So either the ratios must rise or stocks need to get even cheaper. For retirees who need to avoid risk, I just can’t recommend buying stocks yet.
Mind you, I understand Steve Sjuggerud’s idea that we should see a big rally in stocks. Sentiment toward the market is improving right now. And if you have some "play money," you might do well betting on a rally.
But if you’re over 70, remember that stocks aren’t trading for "can’t miss" valuations… Keep in mind the time-tested "100 minus your age" rule. To follow this money management strategy, take 100% and subtract your age. So if you’re 70, the rule says you should have 30% of your portfolio in the stock market.
This is a great place to start when trying to decide how much to have in stocks. And if you’re skeptical of the values out there right now, consider backing this number off toward 20% or 10% of your portfolio.
So again, the market is likely to keep rallying. But if you’re in my mom’s position, make sure you bet just a small amount of "play money." There’s nothing wrong with holding a large percentage of your wealth (like 30% to 50%) in cash right now.
Exactly how much cash you hold will depend on your individual situation. It’s all about sleeping well at night knowing your nest egg is safe. And anyone who has read my writing on health knows good sleep is one of the most important things in life.
Here’s to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig, MD