Should I Cash Out of Stocks at 57 to Protect My Life’s Savings?

Dear Penny,

I am 57 with $285,000 in a brokerage account, and about the very same quantity in pension. I am presently maxing out the quantity I can put in my company’s retirement strategy.  

However, with the marketplace continuing to decrease I am questioning if I must simply keep more in money. I comprehend that with the marketplace down I am basically purchasing shares “on sale.” But if the rate continues to fall I will not have that long to recover the loss due to my age. Thoughts?


Dear M.,

It depends upon what you imply by “keep more in cash.” It’s unpleasant to enjoy cash vaporize from your financial investment accounts. That’s particularly real when retirement is lastly in sight — though nowadays, “Should I cash out?” is a concern I’m obtaining from readers of any ages. But unless you’re dealing with an alarming requirement, I wouldn’t squander financial investments today.

The most apparent factor is that the stock exchange is down about 20% year to date since late October 2022. Your worry is that you won’t have the ability to recover your losses. But up until you offer, any losses you’ve currently sustained just exist on paper. Should you squander now, you’d ensure that your financial investments will never ever rebound.

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A less-discussed factor is that there’s a danger in having excessive of your retirement cost savings in money. People approaching retirement typically fret that a crash might thwart all their cautious preparation, and truly so. But at 57, you might quickly live another 3 or 4 years.

Even after you retire, you require your cash to continue making money. If a big portion of your retirement cash remains in money or other low-risk, low-return financial investments, you might require to withdraw significantly more than your cash makes. At that point, lacking cash ends up being a genuine issue.

Building up more money cost savings is a fantastic objective. That method, you have a cushion for your retirement years. The worst-case circumstance is an extended bearish market that strikes as soon as you’ve currently retired. If you don’t have liquid cost savings and you’re living off your financial investments, a slump is a monetary headache. You’re required to withdraw from diminished financial investments that never ever get the chance to rebound.

When you’re still working, you normally desire a minimum of 3 to 6 months’ worth of liquid cost savings on hand. But when you’re getting ready for retirement, you must up this target. Ideally, you’d have 2 or 3 years of cost savings. That might not be practical for a great deal of individuals, however any additional money you can conserve supplies an important buffer.

If you have a good quantity of non reusable earnings, you might attempt downsizing on non-essentials to construct your money cost savings and keep investing as typical. But if that’s not a choice, I’d keep maxing out your contributions to your employer-sponsored strategy to milk the tax benefits and invest less in your brokerage account.

It’s likewise worth it to consult with a monetary consultant to examine your possession allowance, even if it’s simply a one-time engagement. You most likely don’t wish to do considerable rebalancing while the marketplace is still down. But you might exercise a method to begin moving your cash into much safer possessions once the marketplace recuperates.

Keep in mind that investing is just one part of retirement preparation. A little versatility can go a long method. For example, if you’re in health and your task is steady, you might wish to work a bit longer than you’d prepared. That provides your cash more time to rebound. Plus, that can assist you claim more Social Security, which can assist fill deep space when the stock exchange swims.

Even though it’s frightening when the stock exchange positions a danger to your retirement, it assists to put things in point of view. The typical bearish market — specified as a 20% or more drop from peak to bottom — lasts less than 10 months. More notably, the stock exchange has actually constantly rebounded from its losses. So attempt to overlook the day-to-day variations in your 401(k) balance and check in as soon as a month or quarter rather.

Probably the hardest part of securing your retirement cost savings is that we naturally wish to act when the marketplace is down. But that’s specifically the reverse of what we must do. A hands-off technique is best when things are bad. Then, you require to have the discipline to act, by rebalancing or selling, when the marketplace is strong, even if that implies passing up prospective returns.

Don’t take any significant actions based upon the current stock exchange news. But do make it an objective to slowly conserve more money while likewise continuing to invest. The stock exchange can be a frightening location to keep your cash in the short-term. But in the long run, it’s a quite dependable generator of wealth.

Robin Hartill is a qualified monetary organizer and a senior author at The Penny Hoarder. Send your challenging cash concerns to [email protected],


A news media journalist always on the go, I've been published in major publications including VICE, The Atlantic, and TIME.

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