Don’t Dismiss That “Small” Pension

Frequently, I’ll meet with clients to go over a retirement plan. As is typical, we look at current investments, account balances, Social Security, etc. Often these conversations revolve around distributions from retirement plans and cash flow planning to reduce the probability of portfolio failure, and ensuring an income stream that is congruent with the clients’ retirement goals.

Sometimes clients will also have small pensions from their current or former employer and they will tell me that they are small, trivial, or not worth considering.

Whenever I hear those words or something similar, I try to explain to the clients that however small or trivial, it’s still a guaranteed income stream that will last the rest of their lives in many cases.

For example, I have seen clients think that a $150 monthly pension wasn’t a big deal. But when I present to them that there’s an amount for a “date night” once a month, they can visualize using that money for the date night. A similar expense would be cable TV, funding a grandchild’s 529 plan, etc.

In another example, some clients had roughly $350 in monthly pension money coming from two different sources. They were concerned about having a travel fund in retirement. Their travel budget in retirement was approximately $8,000. When I mentioned they could allocate the pension money to fund half of their annual travel budget, they could visualize the pension money being used, and were almost relieved that they didn’t have to worry about where (half) of their travel budget would come from.