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Retirement Accounts on Track

November 9th, 2009 at 09:51 am

It's weird thinking about my "retirement accounts" because I've been retired for almost a year and a half. I'm fortunate that for the time being, my state teacher's pension enables me to live comfortably and I have health insurance provided at no cost through my former employer. In my early 20s, I got into the habit of saving for retirement, and I never stopped contributing throughout my working years.

When I retired in August of 2008, the plan was to leave my tax-sheltered accounts intact as long as possible, possibly being able to hold off until age 70 1/2 when the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) kicks in. An emergency and travel savings in taxable accounts rounds out our cash funds. If the need were to arise, I would tap these before the tax-sheltered funds.

Since retiring I hadn't thoroughly reviewed the status of my tax-sheltered accounts (403b, IRA, and 457). So today I analyzed the growth in these accounts from September 30, 2008 to September 30, 2009. I was surprised to see that growth has been 4.6% overall... I expected it to be lower. This is after taking into account that my 457 Plan had 0% growth last year (this account is keyed to the S & P index and makes up ~22% of my tax-sheltered funds).

If my calculations are correct, in ~12 years when RMD kicks in, the RMD will be less than 4% of the total. If the accounts continue to earn @4.6% and I withdraw ~4%, the funds will continue to grow. Of course, this is a hypothetical situation because in 12 years I may need a lot more than 4% to make ends meet... and then there's inflation. My pension has a 2% COLA that may not be enough in the future.

My tax-sheltered accounts include a Roth and a non-qualified annuity that I did not include in the projections because they are exempt from RMD. If I don't have to use these non-qualified funds for my health care or living expenses, then I may use them for a legacy gift. I am considering leaving a bequest to my alma mater to establish a scholarship fund to support single mothers working to become teachers.

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