One of the best features of digital journalism is the ability to know what readers are responding to. Barron’s Retirement strives to use this knowledge to deliver relevant stories about the topics you most want to know about when it comes to saving, investing and retirement.
The past year has had many hits, as you’ll see below, on topics ranging from how to retire abroad to managing your retirement strategy amid turbulent markets to retirement with dividends.
However, not every story works as we hoped or reaches as wide an audience as we envisioned. Do senior readers want to know about pot? Are we not as interested in the idea of encryption in our workplace retirement accounts as the headlines would lead you to think? Or have we just not found the right title to appeal to the widest possible audience?
Whatever the case, here’s our second annual roundup of the top 10 most-read Barron’s Retirement stores of the year so far, in descending order of the number of readers who clicked on them:
When to claim Social Security is one of the most personal and controversial topics in retirement coverage. Seemingly everyone has an opinion. Here, writer Tom Wilk explored his thoughts on when to claim Social Security in this Living in Retirement column.
I’ve stopped claiming Social Security with some caveats, but it remains a lively topic of discussion with friends who were former colleagues. After all, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, about 50% of people take Social Security before full retirement age, and less than 10% wait until 70 when benefits peak.
“Take the money now. You’ll never make a difference if you wait until you’re 70,” advised a friend, who turned 70 in September and started taking it at 66.
Barron’s Retirement launched a new mailbag feature earlier this year, taking reader questions and going to professionals for advice. This attracted many readers, possibly for its title, but the secondary questions of whether to pay off a mortgage and tax-efficient ways to protect taxable investment holdings from inflation were also quite informative.
The long bull market that boosted 401(k) balances for more than a decade has ended amid soaring inflation, the prospect of a recession, political strife and the war in Ukraine. What’s an Anxious Retirement Saver to Do?
To find out, Barron’s Retirement reporter Elizabeth O’Brien spoke with several financial professionals as well as an expert in the burgeoning field of financial therapy.
While extreme moves are a bad idea, like pulling your money out of stocks, small tweaks can really help you stay on track, said Preston Cherry, founder and president of Concurrent Financial Planning in Green Bay, Wis. ., and president of the Financial Therapy Relationship. For example, you might feel better about dialing back your 401(k) contribution rate by a few percentage points. “If you need to raise some liquidity, there’s nothing wrong with that,” Cherry said.
Another installment in our mailbag series, this piece examines Congress’ plan to gradually raise the age for required minimum distributions, to age 75, over the next decade or so. It won’t happen for a while, if it’s passed at all, and in any case it won’t be enacted before this year’s 72-year-olds are due to take their first minimum distribution.
Plus, we had answers to your questions about Social Security spousal benefits and the controversial Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision.
Retirement planning doesn’t have to be all about spending and saving strategies. Just as important as financial concerns are health concerns. This makes sense as what is the point in maximizing wealth if we are not healthy enough or live long enough to enjoy it.
Barron’s Retirement reporter Neal Templin’s latest look at how seniors can improve or optimize their health resonated with readers.
You don’t have to run marathons to reap the benefits of exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults can get the benefits with at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week plus at least two weight training sessions.
You can meet the CDC guidelines by hitting the gym twice a week and walking for 30 minutes the other five days, says Mary Edwards, fitness director at Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas.
I’ve long wanted to write the phrase “401(k) millionaire” in a headline, and this On FIRE column, which examines the trend of savers seeking financial independence or early retirement, gave me my first legitimate opportunity to do so.
Since Covid hit the headlines, the combination of a market rally, increased savings and reduced borrowing has boosted retirement account balances past pre-Covid highs. Fidelity Investments, for one, reported a record 760,300 401(k) and individual retirement accounts with seven-figure sums in the third quarter of 2021.
While the influx of wealth may inspire dreams of early retirement, financial planners say savers should consider a few things. “One of the sticking points is whether you can access your money without being penalized,” says Danielle Harrison, a financial advisor at Harrison Financial Planning in Columbia, Mo. Another is whether you can mitigate the risks of a longer retirement.
Expat retirement is attracting increasing interest, but it’s not as simple as picking a place and moving. From health care to taxes, seniors looking to move abroad should expect a year or so of preparation, reporter Debbie Carlson found in this article about retiring abroad.
Stock market crashes early in retirement often hurt the longevity of savings, but they can give retirees willing to do some research and steel their nerves a chance to dilute long-term returns.
Retirees in their 60s or early 70s with a longer time horizon can benefit from buying beatings, high-quality companies and dividends, for example. And with planning and research there are ways to remove market sentiment during periods of volatility.
To paraphrase billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the time to buy is when others are afraid.
Equal isn’t always equal when parents leave retirement accounts to grown children with wide income disparities, as reporter Gail MarksJarvis explored in this article on how to manage your retirement savings to limit the tax hit to heirs.
Before the Secure Act of 2019, adult children who inherited retirement accounts had significant control over what they withdrew each year and the resulting taxes. While they had to take out some money each year and pay taxes, they could limit those taxes by spreading those withdrawals over a lifetime.
Now, for most grown children, IRAs and 401(k)s must be withdrawn within 10 years of a parent’s death, meaning withdrawals—and taxes—could be quite large, whether the withdrawals are made at intervals or in a lump sum up to year 11.
As more investors look to devote some of their nest egg to the steady income that can come from dividends, reporter Lawrence C. Strauss spoke with financial professionals about how to diversify holdings, look for recession-proof companies and make due diligence on the fundamentals.
But dividend retirement requires active engagement and management, so it’s worth understanding the downsides, too.
While savers need that kind of income and growth to cover a decades-long retirement, this approach isn’t foolproof, and it’s certainly not for everyone. Investors who pursue dividend stocks for income also risk losing the principal or even part of the payout if there is an economic or business downturn. And younger investors could forgo the long-term growth potential of stocks by pursuing a dividend strategy. Savers should also consider a number of other potential sources of retirement income – bonds are one option, despite their generally low yields.
Write to Brian Hershberg at email@example.com