The Woodwards have $315,000 in retirement accounts and about $130,000 in equity in their $375,000 condo; they expect a six-figure inheritance. Neither has a pension plan.

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Profile: Kristen Woodward, 44, media specialist, Mark Woodward, 42, marketing director, Seattle. Married with no children.




Mark and Kristen live
in a view condo on Lake Union and together make $150,000; he’s marketing director at Evergreen Hospital Medical Center in Kirkland, she’s a media specialist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

They have $315,000 in retirement accounts and about $130,000 in equity in their $375,000 condo; they expect a six-figure inheritance. Neither has a pension plan.

They save $1,300 per month for retirement through 403(b) plans at work. Mark also saves $250 per month into a Roth IRA. Their emergency cash reserves would cover about four months of living expenses.

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Retirement goals:

“I’d like to putz around the house, eat out and also travel, staying at nice hotels,” Mark says. “Retiring at 60 is a goal — is it a fantasy?”

Kristen has a shorter wish list: “I want the freedom to do what I want.”

Mark wonders if 18 more years of work will be enough to finance the retirement they want — with an annual spendable income of $75,000 in today’s dollars. “But I’d be willing to work longer, instead of stopping work and having to restart.”


The advice:

David Morganstern, a certified financial planner with CMC Advisers in Portland, is uncertain the Woodwards will meet their goals.


Longer life:

In part, he thinks they should plan for a longer life expectancy than 90, which is their best guesstimate. “If they live longer, or spend more, or don’t get the rate of return they hope for then things look worse.”


Max out:

Kristen isn’t currently contributing to her Roth IRA but should be. Neither is maxing out their respective workplace 403(b) savings plans; they should hit their legal limit as soon as they can.


Get riskier:

Then, they should clarify their investment attitude and adjust their portfolio accordingly: “They said on our survey they were ‘aggressive’ investors but they expect a rate of return of 5 percent, which would be an asset allocation of 15 percent stocks/85 percent bonds, more suitable for a much older couple. A blend of 60 percent stocks and 40 percent bonds would yield an 8 percent rate of return. The key to designing asset allocation is understanding your risk tolerance and your time horizon.”



Plan for less Social Security:

“They should anticipate and plan on half their expected Social Security benefit. Folks who planned well, like the Woodwards, will likely receive less in the future.” Better to be pleasantly surprised if they receive more later than have to postpone retirement.


Health accounts:

Planning for future health-care costs is crucial, he says, suggesting they look into a health savings account (HSA) which would allow them to set aside pretax money now for future health-care costs.


Fitness buys security:

Last, the Woodwards should actively safeguard their health as a financial strategy as well as to simply have energy and stamina to enjoy retirement. The best way to save money on health care is to minimize your need for it, Morganstern believes. “If they maintain health and fitness now, they will enjoy wonderful health in later years and derive savings while doing so.”