I am 60 and plan to retire in March. I have $113K in my 401(k) and no other savings, but I will get an early retirement package of 9 months salary. Should I get a pro to help me?






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Question: I am accepting an early retirement offer from my long-term employer of 24 years. In March of 2023, I will retire and receive nine months of salary as well as my benefits. During this time I will be looking for another job that’s 30 or 40 hours per week. I would like to do this in order to invest some of the stipend I will be receiving. I have approximately $113,000 in a 401(k) that I will also be looking to invest. I have no other savings or checking, and I am 60 years old. I need advice as to whether it would benefit me to hire a financial advisor outside of the one I have with a large investment company through my current employer. (Looking for a financial adviser too? This tool can help match you with an adviser who might meet your needs.)

Answer:  While it may benefit you to work with a financial adviser outside of your employer, that’s not always the case. “It really depends on what the employer-adviser costs, what their fiduciary obligations may or may not be and how well-credentialed they are. If they’re low cost, act as a fiduciary, have a preeminent planning designation, then it may be a great fit, but if not, you may wish to find an adviser elsewhere,” says certified financial planner Philip Mock at 1522 Financial. 

Have an issue with your financial adviser or looking for a new one? Email picks@marketwatch.com.

For his part, certified financial planner Joe Favorito at Landmark Wealth Management says he recommends meeting with the current adviser and going over your situation along with your longer term goals to see if they’re competent and have done a good job up to this point. “If they aren’t, and you’re looking elsewhere, then I would suggest using whoever you choose exclusively because you want your financial plans to be one cohesive strategy and having two competing advisers can sometimes create more problems than you can solve,” says Favorito. (Looking for a financial adviser? This tool can help match you with an adviser who might meet your needs.)

No matter which adviser you choose — or if you go it alone — you have a number of things you will want to consider here. “I’d want to know what your net monthly expenses will be in retirement in today’s dollars, whether you have any pensions expected in the future, and if not, what Social Security will look like at 67 and 70. I’d also want to know when you’d like to have the choice to quit working, but all of these questions come with assumptions, and my biggest concern is that you haven’t saved enough to quit working when you’d like,” says certified financial planner Adam Koos at Libertas Wealth Management. 

Indeed, Koos says there are two possible scenarios here. “My guess is that either you’re going to need to save as much as you can between now and full retirement, or I would hope that you’re a relatively frugal individual. Case in point, if your Social Security comes out to $3,500 per month and your total retirement savings grows to $150,000 between now and retirement at 65, you can only expect a $500 per month gross check from your retirement portfolio, which puts your monthly gross retirement income at around $4,000 per month,” says Koos.

The good news here is that that may be enough for you, and you plan to keep working and earning money that you can use to boost your retirement funds. And if you decide to go the financial adviser route, that person can help you invest your earnings and come up with a solid plan to ensure a smooth retirement. Make sure that whoever you work with has the ability to handle — or knows someone they can recommend — not just the investment advice, but all the other issues that become paramount as you get closer to your senior years. “This means estate planning, insurance planning and tax planning,” says Favorito.

Something else to consider: Advisers say you should plan to have some liquid emergency savings on hand. “Your question about not having any other savings means you’re definitely in need of an emergency fund,” says Mock. Pros advise having between 3 and 6 months of living expenses in an emergency fund, regardless of whether you’re approaching retirement.

You should also think about when you will take Social Security. If you retire at full retirement age (66 if you’re born between 1943 and 1954 and 67 if you’re born between 1955 and 1960), you’ll receive the maximum benefit. It’s best to delay taking Social Security as long as possible because benefits are increased by a percentage each month you delay starting after your full retirement age.

If you can’t find a job you like because of a looming recession, it may make sense to enter the gig economy and work wherever you can to earn extra money. 

Looking for a new adviser? Consider checking out professional planners using the National Association of Professional Financial Advisors (NAPFA) online tool since hiring a personal financial planner is highly recommended in your case, as the individual helping with your retirement plan at work likely doesn’t have the capabilities, license or legal ability to provide the kind of advice you’re going to need. (Looking for a financial adviser? This tool can help match you with an adviser who might meet your needs.)

Questions edited for brevity and clarity.

Have an issue with your financial adviser or looking for a new one? Email picks@marketwatch.com.

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