It would be hard to find a podcast-hosting duo more totally invested in answering your financial questions than Alison Southwick and Robert Brokamp -- they put "Answers" in the show's name, for goodness' sake! And this week, they're at it again, combing through the Motley Fool Answers mailbag in search of conundrums to address for their listeners. But because three heads are better than two, for this episode, they've recruited Sean Gates, a financial planner with Motley Fool Wealth Management, to help out.
In this segment, listener Daniel has a problem. His 69-year-old mother isn't getting much from Social Security, and she needs her savings to last as long as possible. Priority No. 1: Not taking losses. The trio talk bonds, CDs, asset ratios, and more.
Sean Gates is an employee of Motley Fool Wealth Management, a separate, sister company of The Motley Fool, LLC. The views of Sean Gates and Motley Fool Wealth Management are not the views of The Motley Fool, LLC and should not be taken as such.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on June 26, 2018.
Alison Southwick: First question comes from Daniel. Daniel writes, "My 69-year-old mom receives $547 a month from Social Security and has $100,000 in a savings account. That's all she has. How can I maximize her money without risking losing it? You discussed I bonds on a previous show, but I have no idea what those are. I'm looking for more information, and also some other options. Is it too late to start a retirement account? Thanks, as always and stay awesome, or rather, Foolish. Daniel."
Robert Brokamp: Daniel, good for you for trying to help your mom, because she's in a tough situation. You didn't indicate whether she's retired or not, but I'm going to guess that she probably is. You can get Social Security and still be working, but I'm going to guess she's retired. If she is capable of working, I think that's actually something for her to consider doing, because she's a young retiree and she really does not have that much money. She has about half of the average monthly benefit of Social Security. So, if possible, she should consider going back to work, if she can.
For someone who's either in retirement or close to retirement, the first rule of thumb that I always throw out there is that you should have the next five years' worth of income you expect from your portfolio out of the stock market. That would be the first thing. Put it somewhere safe. You mentioned I bonds. You can learn more about them at treasurydirect.gov. I don't think they're necessarily a good option for most of the money, because they're not good for providing current income, and you have to leave them alone for five years or you pay a penalty. But for a little bit of the income, it's possible. Otherwise I'd look at high-yielding savings accounts, maybe CDs, something like that. A one-year CD these days you can get for about 2.5%.
Normally, I'd say also for a retiree, be looking at, generally, a 60% stocks, 40% fixed-income portfolio, and that three to five years of income out of the market would be part of that 40%. I don't know if I'd be comfortable recommending that she goes 60% into the stock market when you have so little. You have to play it pretty safe. Even a 60-40 portfolio dropped 25-30% in 2008. It recovered, of course, but it would just make me nervous, especially someone who hasn't accumulated much over her career. I'm guessing she's probably not invested in the stock market, so doing that now at her age would be tough.
I think it's still worth considering, maybe, a broadly diversified, dividend-oriented stock portfolio for a small portion of it. Such a portfolio, like the dividend-focused funds, yields maybe 3.2%. That's a good start. But she'd have to be comfortable with the possibility of that going down 30-40% at any given time.
Sean Gates: Yeah. I would say, the piece of information we're missing from this is how much money she needs off of the portfolio. That's a big piece of it. If her Social Security and other income sources provide her retirement needs, then maybe the $100,000 could go into stocks at a heavier degree. But, yeah, I think all of Bro's advice is good. Just get her started.
Brokamp: And it doesn't say anything about whether she owns a home or not. If she does, she's a great candidate for a reverse mortgage at some point down the road.