Choosing Investments For The Time Of Your Life
HOW TO INVEST FOR YOUR LIFE STAGE
Choosing Investments For The Time Of Your Life
Investing can be complicated and scary. But it doesn’t have to be.
It is common to have a fear of what we don’t understand. We don’t know what lies ahead. However, we do need to prepare for the future.
When I turned 50 I went on a Saturday morning bike ride. It was supposed to be a group ride in Atlanta, but the weather was predicted to be cloudy and cool with a chance of showers. Only two of us showed up, but we decided to take a chance on the weather and ride anyway. When Doug found out that I had just turned 50, he explained his view of how life can be divided into thirds.
The first 25 years are “Diapers to Adulthood”. Those are our foundation years as we grow up and get an education.
The second third is the “Building Years”, from age 25 to 50. This is when we start a career, or maybe start a business. Some of us get married, and many start a family. And we grow our nest egg.
Next comes the “Best Third”, from age 50 to 75. This is when we really get to enjoy the fruits of our labors over the years. Kids may get married and we may have grandkids. We can retire and spend more time doing the things we really want to do. Like spending time with grandkids and traveling.
And anything after 75 is gravy.
I think Doug was in his “Gravy Years”. He welcomed me to the “Best Third”.
So what does this have to do with investing?
It is important to be prepared for the Best Third as early as possible. You have more choices when you are financially free. And our health generally declines as we get older. I like the FIRE movement approach, Financial Independence, Retire Early. It does not mean that you have to retire early, but the emphasis is on putting yourself in a position of financial freedom and giving yourself more choices. Here is another blog about FIRE and retirement.
When it comes to money and investing, we want to get the best returns possible.
And if you are like me, we have a strong aversion to losing money.
“Safe” investments may not keep up with inflation. We need to maintain our purchasing power. As of March 2022, the published average inflation rate in the U.S. is 8.5 percent. That means our investments need to grow at least 8.5 percent just to keep from losing ground.
Some of us are investing for growth. Some of us want more income. Some of us want both. How do we choose the right balance between growth and income?
During periods of high inflation it becomes even more important to maintain growth. But we may need more income due to higher prices. Especially if we are relying on our investments to provide a stream of income.
So what type of investments are best? How should we prioritize our investing?
INVEST BASED ON YOUR LIFE STAGE
It was some time later that I asked my dad what he considered to be the top 10 lessons to pass on with regards to real estate. He had been a real estate broker and developer, and built and managed a number of investment properties.
One of the top ten lessons concerned investing for your age.
When you are young, invest for appreciation. As you get older, invest for cash flow.
It clicked. It was an “Aha!” moment as I thought back to the three phases of life that Doug mentioned on the bike ride.
The building Years are a time to primarily seek appreciation. It is also good to accumulate some passive income to protect against job loss or an inability to work.
The Best Years are a time to enjoy cash from your investments. It is a time to invest for an income stream rather than appreciation. This income stream enables you to spend more time with the family and people you choose, doing the things that you want to spend time doing.
The income could be from rental properties. There is also an option to sell or refinance assets. A significant portion of the income should be steady, such as rental income, so that fluctuations in the market do not negatively impact cash flow.
MAKING THE BEST YEARS BETTER
Let’s take a brief look at some of the benefits of creating passive income other than eliminating the financial need to work.
Earned income is taxed at the highest rates. If you get a paycheck, you are required to pay Social Security and Medicare tax. If you are self-employed then you also get to pay the employer’s share of the Social Security tax.
You may have seen this tax difference on your tax return if you have dividend or interest income. Dividends and interest are taxed at ordinary income rates. Do you see the potential tax savings when your income is passive?
Let’s take it one step further. What if you could sell an asset and pay taxes at a lower rate? This is how long term capital gains taxes work. The lowest capital gains tax rate is 0%, so it is possible to have capital gains income and pay zero taxes. Even if you have to pay taxes on long term capital gains, the tax is lower than ordinary income tax.
This leads into why I like real estate. It is my preferred investment for building wealth and cash flow. Not only can it provide cash flow and capital gains, but it also has certain tax advantages including depreciation and can be leveraged easily. You can read about why real estate is the IDEAL investment here.
Real Estate can be great for any life stage. It is very powerful during the building stage when leveraged properly and can be used to build wealth more quickly than many other investments. It is also ideal later, making cash flow available during the Best Years. It can be sold or refinanced for cash in any phase.
Multi-family syndications provide a passive way to invest in real estate without having to deal with tenants and toilets. A real estate syndication can provide the benefits listed above. It can also provide certain tax benefits such as depreciation and long term capital gains. And it can be done within certain retirement accounts.
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Mike is a retired aerospace engineer with a passion for real estate investing and teaching financial literacy. He lives with his wife in Daytona Beach, Florida.