How to Rebalance a Bond Ladder

Retirement Answer Man

Nov 15 2022 • 24 mins

The good life is a direction, not a destination. This is why we are so focused on the process of retirement planning. Rocking retirement is all about having an adaptable process to work through.

On this episode of Retirement Answer Man, I answer a few process-based questions. You’ll learn how to work through the steps to rebalance a bond ladder and how to analyze whether you have enough to create a sound retirement.

How retirement planning is like meditation

Retirement planning has a lot in common with meditation. With meditation, the idea is to sit quietly and focus on one particular mantra or the breath. While this seems like an easy thing to do, the mind constantly wanders to other places, so the meditator has to bring the mind back to the primary focus.

Just like with meditation, retirement planning has its own primary focus. The focus of process-based retirement planning is your goals. When you get distracted by the latest problem that you heard on the news, poor market returns, or whichever new, shiny thing comes along it is important to bring your attention back to the plan. We all want to optimize our retirement to achieve the best possible outcome, but we must first see how it all fits within our process.

What is a bond ladder?

A bond ladder is a great way to prefund consumption over the years. It is created by purchasing a bond portfolio with individual bonds that come to maturity over a period of time. There may be bonds that mature each year over several years. This creates an income floor in a type of stair-step fashion. As each bond comes due then you build out the next step of the bond ladder.

How to rebalance a bond ladder

As each bond in the ladder comes due you may wonder how and when to reallocate your portfolio. The bond portion of the portfolio is there to help you weather poor markets, so should you sell stocks while they are down to build your bond ladder back up? That kind of defeats the point of building up the bond safety net.

Creating an income floor with a bond ladder ensures that you have time to allow your stock portfolio to be successful. There are several ways that you can make this happen.

You can moderate your spending so that you lengthen the time period of the bond ladder so that it burns down more slowly or you can choose to only partly replenish it.

There is no right or wrong way to work through this. By using a process-based strategy you can create several scenarios to navigate the situation. The benefit of having a structured process is that you can test it to see what works best for you.

Think about your own retirement planning process. Do you return back to it when faced with a question or problem? Consider how you can use your planning process to help you reframe questions. You may find that answering those questions gets easier when you use your process.

OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE RETIREMENT ANSWER MAN

LISTENER QUESTIONS

  • [6:33] How bond ladders work
  • [12:29] Should Rich live on dividends and interest or sell?
  • [14:17] How to systematically analyze variables
  • [18:40] Is there a specific set of tests to determine whether a retirement plan is sound?

TODAY’S SMART SPRINT SEGMENT

  • [23:46] What is your mantra?

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

New Retirement Planning

Cozy Earth use code RAM to get 35% off anything on the site!

Rock Retirement Club

Roger’s YouTube Channel - Roger That

BOOK - Rock Retirement by Roger Whitney

Roger’s Retirement Learning Center