When You Can Ignore the Stock Market Ups & Downs

It would be an understatement to say that the stock market has been volatile during the past weeks. As I write, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose or fell by hundreds of points on four out of the last six trading days. A trillion dollars in savings vanished in a single day. A trillion dollars in savings reappeared on the next.

While the indexes lurch like an airliner in a thunderstorm, millions of retired Americans have undoubtedly fixed their attention on their televisions and computer screens, watching the financial news and worrying about the safety of their savings. If the market finishes up, they’ll feel relief. If it finishes down, they’ll wonder what luxury or even what necessity they might have to live without next year.

So, what to do about it? This isn’t the right time to make a dramatic financial move. It would certainly be the wrong time to sell equities. But in a few weeks or months, after the markets calm down, it will be worth remembering this week’s market turbulence and asking: when I’m 68 or 69 or
75 years old, do I want to lose sleep over the market? Do I want to be glued to the news? Do I want to be calling my financial adviser?

At that age (assuming that you aren’t so rich that you can laugh off the worst market losses), you’ll want to have already set up an income plan that will let you ignore the nightly news. That doesn’t mean putting all your money into an annuity. But it could mean buying an annuity large enough to provide a floor income that covers your basic expenses.  Describing some of the ways you can do that will be one of the goals of my posts over the coming months.

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