Sterling Thoughts Newsletter
STERLING THOUGHTS — April 2019
Lessons for a Happy Retirement from ‘A Star Is Born’
by Scot Landborg
As Featured In:
Believe it or not, your retirement journey could have some similarities to what the characters go through in the movie.
The Oscar-nominated movie A Star Is Born, starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, is a moving story. What perspectives can be gained from that movie when thinking about retirement? More than you might think.
The must-see movie is a modern remake of a film that has been reworked three other times in 1937, 1954 and 1976 with Barbra Streisand. It’s a beautiful journey watching the relationship flourish between Cooper and Gaga. Unfortunately, the story ends tragically.
What are the biggest takeaways when thinking about this story in terms or your own life in retirement?
Know there is a challenge ahead of you.
Without revealing any spoilers, one of the stars in the movie faces tragedy because he couldn’t see any other options or life getting better. Similarly, people should understand that retirement is an adjustment that comes with downs as well as ups. A study found that in the time surrounding retirement, subjects experienced a large improvement in well-being and life satisfaction. Yet, a few years after retirement, levels of happiness dropped quickly.
Post retirement, the new reality sinks in. What am I going to do with all this time? How do I still contribute? How do I feel value or purpose? Understand that those feelings are normal, and it takes time to adjust to your new retirement lifestyle.
You’re going to have be comfortable with change.
Things are different in retirement. You may need a new social circle or a new hobby. Work filled a lot of hours of your day, now what do you do?
From a financial perspective, you may need to embrace change as well. Maybe you need to sell your home, downsize or relocate to make your retirement dreams a reality. Maybe living on a fixed income is something that will take getting used to. Change can be scary, but it can also be invigorating. A high school football star can’t live in the past forever. Neither can a musician, and neither can you. You had a successful career, now what will your next act look like?
You may have to reinvent yourself.
Just like Lady Gaga’s character in A Star Is Born, who goes from being waitress to becoming a breakout a singer, you have the chance to reinvent yourself in retirement.
Vacationing and golf only take you so far. How do you want to spend your time? Maybe volunteer at an animal shelter or a senior center. Maybe join SCORE and mentor future business leaders or get involved with your local church group.
A majority of retirees still want to work. Seventy-two percent of pre-retirees ages 50 and older have said they desire continued work after retirement. Forty-seven percent of current retirees either are working, have or plan to work during retirement, according to a survey by Merrill Lynch.
Explore your interests. What is it that truly makes you happy? Look locally and beyond; discuss with colleagues, family members or current retirees. It is OK to take a completely different path than the career you worked so hard to build.
Be open to thinking about retirement in a new way.
People retire very differently. I have a client who was a homebuilder and lived in big beautiful homes all his life. In retirement, he found happiness in a small $50,000 home in Mesa, Ariz., where he plays pickleball and water volleyball every day. Another client sold everything and bought a $250,000 condo in Mexico with a 360-degree view of the ocean. One client moved to be closer to family, and another picked up part-time employment working at the local Catholic diocese.
Retirement offers you the flexibility to do different activities and to have an impact you might not have been able to in your working life.
It’s a new beginning—embrace the technology.
Don’t be like Cooper’s character in the movie, thinking that your best days are behind you; there are opportunities all around you. For example, the technology of today makes it more possible than ever to stay busy, get involved and even make some money.
You could drive for Uber on Friday nights just for fun. If you harness a love for canines, you could become a dog walker with Wag! (wagwalking.com). If you prefer working with children, babysit one night a week with Care.com. Consider listing your handyman skills on HomeAdvisor. If crafting is your hobby, list homemade goods on Etsy for sale or go “garage sailing” and flip your best finds on eBay.
Technology makes it easier than ever to stay involved on your terms and on your time table. Your potential new career is waiting for you and is simply one internet search away!
Keep talking to people around you.
If you are having struggles, like Bradley Cooper’s tortured movie character, talk about them with the people around you. You are not alone. Many people who face retirement face challenges. Sometimes it’s personal, and sometimes it’s financial.
Use the network of people around you as you move forward and know that sometimes you may need professional help to take the next step and get the clarity you deserve in retirement. The preparations you make now can help ensure that, unlike A Star Is Born, your “retirement movie” will have a happy ending.
Managed Model Update
The first quarter provided a strong recovery for the markets from losses of the last year. While the fourth quarter was one of the most volatile in recent memory, the first quarter was one of the strongest since 2009.
The S&P 500 rose 13%. Bonds were up over 2% and emerging markets were up 10%. Falling rates for home mortgages, potential progress on trade negotiations and the Fed’s more dovish approach to interest rates have been pushing the market higher.
While international growth is slowing, US companies are still producing strong earnings. The Fed signaling likely no rate increases for the remainder of the year also is a favorable sign.
Our Sterling Active Model has seen nice increases on the year. We have moved slightly more into equities as our long-term and medium-term indicators are both positive. Our core model has approximately 25% in bonds and cash as our short-term indicator is negative at the moment. We have maintained a focus on US equities with no exposure to international or emerging markets. This worked well for our model as international had a steeper decline in the fourth quarter and has lagged in the first quarter recovery. Our model is favoring large cap, the Nasdaq, and small exposure to the real estate sector. We have no small cap, limited mid cap and no international.
Beacon Capital avoided much of the volatility of 2018 but was slower to reinvest in 2019. They have been consistently increasing equity exposure since February and consumer discretionary and consumer staples have gone positive.
Flexible Plan reduced risk near the end of the fourth quarter moving a majority to bonds and cash. They have been quick to get reinvested in early January and have seen decent growth. They are currently favoring technology, real estate, semiconductors and the internet sectors.
Our core variable annuity model at Jackson is approximately 15% bonds and cash with US equities making up the remainder of the allocation. Our other variable annuity platforms will continue to be reallocated through the week and will be majority US equity holdings.
We saw some individual stock buying opportunities at the beginning of the quarter and have been meeting with clients individually to discuss how to best take advantage of potential opportunities.
To talk more about your individual portfolio and how these reallocations impact you specifically, please contact our office to schedule a review.