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How to Achieve a Dignified Retirement

A dignified, independent retirement means having an income that rises at a rate that offsets increasing living costs over a decades-long retirement. The financial asset that has historically best protected investors over multiple decades with a stream of income that grows at a rate faster than the cost of living increases is stocks.

The cost of living (inflation) rose a cumulative 50% in the 20 years between 1997 and 2016. The dividends paid on the S&P 500 rose 290% in the same period, and that doesn't even take into account the increase in the value of the stocks. Looking at the 20 years before that (1977-1996), inflation was 159% and the S&P 500 dividends rose 306%. Retirement income that grows at a rate that is significantly more than the growth in retirement expenses means you won’t have to worry so much about your finances in your retirement years.

Setbacks in stock values can take a significant emotional toll on the average investor. However, it is important to remember that you have not actually “lost” anything unless you sell when the market is low. Historically, all market declines have been temporary declines in the permanent upward march of stocks. 

In addition, fleeing the capital markets in response to distressing political events (or any events, for that matter) does not make a successful long-term investment strategy. Part of the value your financial advisor provides is to prevent you from making financial mistakes from which you will never recover. The bottom line is that you should develop your investment strategy based on your long-term financial goals, and you should not alter your strategy unless your goals change.

Having an income stream that increases at a rate that offsets the rising prices of the goods and services that you will consume will give you the best shot at an independent retirement. Investing in a diversified portfolio that is invested primarily in stocks will allow to achieve this over the long-term. This assumes you stay the course and keep your mind focused on the long-term. 

Sources: http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~adamodar/New_Home_Page/datafile/spearn.htm