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Essential Retirement Strategies


We all know that planning for the long term is essential. Identifying your financial goals and creating a savings and investment strategy can help you address your financial priorities, such as paying for a child’s college education and having enough set aside to live the life you want in retirement.

As you think about planning for the future, here are five key strategies to keep in mind:

Plan for a longer retirement

Many people tend to underestimate how long they’ll live after retiring and overestimate how long they’ll be able to work. For the average 65-year-old couple, there is a 48% chance that one spouse will live to age 90.1 Many people also tend to have unrealistic views of how long they can actually work in order to save for retirement.

Living longer means that you’ll need to create a lasting plan to pay expenses and enjoy your retirement. Consider your retirement goals and prepare for the various factors that may impact your plan—both those that you can control, such as savings and spending, and those that you can’t, such as market conditions and inflation.

Build a strategy to save for both short- and long-term goals

Often people need to juggle several savings priorities at once, such as retirement, paying for college and taking care of aging parents. While some goals may be more short-term (like paying for college), make sure you’re putting enough aside for your own long-term needs. Develop a strategy, balancing your financial priorities and goals. Planning tools can analyze your current income, investments, Social Security, projected income and everyday expenses during retirement, including health care—and evaluate different savings, spending and investment scenarios to help you as you work toward your retirement goals.

Be thoughtful about making withdrawals

Consider adjusting your spending during declining markets to preserve your capital and build flexibility into your plan. This can help you avoid tapping into your principal too soon. Most individuals will actually spend less as they age, but you may want to be conservative and plan to maintain your current purchasing power over time by maintaining principal. A retirement income strategy that you can adjust for various market changes may help keep you on track for the duration of your post-work years.


Average life expectancy continues to increase. You may need to plan on the probability of living much longer—perhaps 30 plus years in retirement—and invest a portion of your portfolio for growth to maintain your purchasing power over time.

If you’re 65 today, the probability of living to a specific age or beyond

probability of living to specific age

Chart: Social Security Administration, Period Life Table, 2015 (published in 2018), J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
Table: Social Security Administration 2018 OASDI Trustees Report.
Probability at least one member of a same-sex female couple lives to age 90 is 55% and a same-sex male couple is 40%.

“Catch up” to help you stay ahead

You may be able to take advantage of catch-up contributions to a 401(k) or IRA starting in the calendar year in which you turn age 50. This can really help you increase your retirement savings. Some employer-sponsored plans allow for catch-up contributions, as much as $6,000, and IRAs allow catch-up contributions as much
as $1,000.2

Stay invested for the long haul

When markets become volatile, having a long-term strategy and sticking with it is important when saving for retirement. Many investors react to volatility by pulling out of the market. In fact, a recent study showed that the average return of an average investor—2.6%—barely outpaced inflation, which was 2.1% over the latest 20-year time period, due to investors getting in and out of the market at the wrong time.3 Investors who sell out of their investments and accumulate cash to avoid the volatility of markets hurt their portfolios over the long run. For example in the chart below, if you invested $10,000 into the S&P 500 in the beginning of 1999 and stayed fully invested through 2018, you would have an 5.62% annual return, or $29,845. But if you had missed just the 10 best days of market returns, you would have ended up with $14,895. If you had missed the best 30 best days, you would have been left with $6,213. Consider holding steady towards your long-term strategy as markets become volatile to potentially benefit from recovering markets.


Trying to time the market is extremely difficult to do consistently. Market lows often result in emotional decision making. Investing for the long term while managing volatility can result in a better retirement outcome.

Returns of S&P 500

Performance of a $10,000 investment between January 4, 1999 and December 31, 20184

returns of SP500

Source: J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Guide to Retirement, 2019 edition.
This chart is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent the performance of any investment or group of investments.


Whether you invest independently, or work with a J.P. Morgan Advisor, start planning early, and check in on your retirement planning and assumptions periodically to help ensure that you are on track. Whether you are in your forties or in retirement, check ins allow adjustments to be made and ensure that changing markets and your evolving life and priorities are reflected.

Not all investment ideas referenced are suitable for all investors. Investing involves market risk, including the possible loss of principal. There is no guarantee that investment objectives will be reached. Diversification does not guarantee a profit or protect against a loss.

Opinions and estimates offered constitute our judgment as of the date of this material and are subject to change without notice, as are statements of financial market trends, which are based on current market conditions. We believe the information provided here is reliable, but do not warrant its accuracy or completeness. This material is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument. The views and strategies described herein may not be suitable for all investors. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, accounting, legal or tax advice. References to future returns are not promises or even estimates of actual returns a client portfolio may achieve. Any forecasts contained herein are for illustrative purposes only and are not to be relied upon as advice or interpreted as a recommendation.

Investment products and services are offered through J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (JPMS), a registered broker-dealer and investment advisor, member of FINRA and SIPC. Annuities are made available through Chase Insurance Agency, Inc. (CIA), a licensed insurance agency, doing business as Chase Insurance Agency Services, Inc. in Florida. JPMS, CIA and JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. are affiliated companies under the common control of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Products not available in all states.


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