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Investing

Is it safe to retire when the stock market is so volatile?

Mindy Yu explains how you can make the decision to retire amid such volatility seem less precarious.

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Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We earn a commission from affiliate partners on many offers, but not all offers on Select are from affiliate partners.

Entering retirement marks a major shift from being active in the workforce to relying on your investments to keep you afloat. In times of such extreme market volatility, you might be thinking now is not the right time to go through with such a monumental change.

But experts say you shouldn't let a down market deter you from entering retirement according to your personal goals and plans. Plus, there are a few extra steps you can take to help lessen risk and retire more confidently.

While it may feel easier said than done, "a volatile market shouldn't dictate whether or not you retire," says Mindy Yu, director of investing at Betterment at Work. "Market volatility is not new, and if history is any guide, the market will eventually recover. Often the timing of upward movements can be equally surprising as the market drops. There will always be good years and bad years in the market."

When on the cusp of retirement, though, make sure your investments are positioned to preserve their balance by holding less risky assets, says Yu. (Riskier assets carry bigger potential for you to lose even more money over a short amount of time.)

If you don't know how to adjust your portfolio for lower risk, consider working with a financial advisor for additional assistance. Alternatively, for a more hands-off approach, robo-advisors such as Betterment or Wealthfront provide apps that will automatically rebalance your portfolio for you as time goes on and your risk tolerance changes.

Betterment

On Betterment's secure site
  • Minimum deposit and balance

    Minimum deposit and balance requirements may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. For Betterment Digital Investing, $0 minimum balance; Premium Investing requires a $100,000 minimum balance

  • Fees

    Fees may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. For Betterment Digital Investing, 0.25% of your fund balance as an annual account fee; Premium Investing has a 0.40% annual fee

  • Bonus

    Up to one year of free management service with a qualifying deposit within 45 days of signup. Valid only for new individual investment accounts with Betterment LLC

  • Investment vehicles

  • Investment options

    Stocks, bonds, ETFs and cash

  • Educational resources

    Betterment RetireGuide™ helps users plan for retirement

Terms apply.

Wealthfront

On Wealthfront's secure site
  • Minimum deposit and balance

    Minimum deposit and balance requirements may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. $500 minimum deposit for investment accounts

  • Fees

    Fees may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. Zero account, transfer, trading or commission fees (fund ratios may apply). Wealthfront annual management advisory fee is 0.25% of your account balance

  • Bonus

    None

  • Investment vehicles

  • Investment options

    Stocks, bonds, ETFs and cash. Additional asset classes to your portfolio include real estate, natural resources and dividend stocks

  • Educational resources

    Offers free financial planning for college planning, retirement and homebuying

Terms apply.

Despite planning, there's always a chance that once you retire huge dips and peaks in the market could have a major impact on your retirement nest egg.

"Since you're retired, you have to continue making withdrawals in order to maintain your income," Yu says. "During periods of market dips or volatility, your investment assets may have less value, so you have to sell more of them to equal the same amount of money. When the market goes back up, you'll have fewer assets benefitting from the rebound."

To avoid having to pull as much money from your investments during down markets, Yu suggests taking advantage of supplemental income sources such as Social Security, rental income or a pension withdrawal. And if you have been contributing to a high-yield savings account, which typically wouldn't be as volatile as the stock market, consider using some of those funds to allow your investments to benefit from a rebound.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.