Retirement Answer Man

The thought of bear markets in retirement can be so scary, but they can be a bit less frightening if you have a plan. That’s why we’re taking this month to discuss market downturns and how they affect retirement plans. Every couple of years there will be a 10% correction in the market but this isn’t a bear market. A bear market is at least a 20% decline in the markets. The more you learn the more you’ll be prepared for any eventuality in retirement. Listen in to learn more about bear markets and how they could affect your retirement investments. 

What is a bear market? 

You may have heard the term bear market thrown around loosely, so before we dive in to discuss how they’ll affect you we need to define what a bear market really is. A bear market is a condition or period of time when securities fall 20% or more from recent highs. There is usually a lot of negative sentiment surrounding bear markets. The stock market is usually what we’re talking about when we discuss bear markets but we could be discussing any kind of securities. 

There are 2 types of bear markets that we usually talk about. The cyclical bear market is the more common type. This signifies a short term downturn. There is also a secular bear market which refers to a long-term timeframe of below-average returns. 

A history of bear markets

We have had 12 bear markets since 1945. The average drop was 33%. The most famous bear market was during the great depression and suffered an 86% decline over a 34 month period. The most recent bear market is still fresh for many of us. The 2008 crash lasted 17 months and saw a 56% decline in values. Unfortunately, bear markets don’t all perform the same since past performance is not an indicator of future results. But there are some things we can learn by looking back at history. Listen in to find out what you can learn by looking at bear markets throughout history. 

Bear markets and investing for retirement

The 4% rule is talked about all the time as a retirement strategy. It’s popular because it works very well in a spreadsheet. On this episode, I’ll compare how the 4% rule holds up throughout different bear markets throughout history. Listen in to learn how the 4% rule holds up through various historical models. You’ll learn what you can do to reduce your risk and lessen the impact of a bear market in retirement. 

When to dial back risk

Cathy has an audio question for me. She has enough assets to cover her retirement expenses already, so she wants to know when is the right time to dial back her risk. Obviously, this is a matter of personal opinion and risk tolerance. But there are some things you can consider to gauge how much is enough. First, you should consider if you really have enough. Enough for what? Think about how you could live your best life. Next, you should isolate the excess. During the listener questions segment, you’ll hear the full answer to Cathy’s question as well as 2 more listener questions. Discover whether you should pay off the house or do a Roth conversion and how to assess when it’s time to consider a long term care facility. 



  • [2:20] What is a bear market?


  • [4:20] A history of bear markets 
  • [8:02] what does this mean for you in retirement?
  • [15:50] what lessons can you learn from history?


  • [17:41] When to dial back risk
  • [25:14] Pay off the house or do a Roth conversion?
  • [29:35] Bill asks how to assess when to enter a long-term care facility


  • [32:33] What is your asset allocation?

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Morning Star’s Instant X-Ray tool

Rock Retirement Club

Roger’s YouTube Channel - Roger That

BOOK - Rock Retirement  by Roger Whitney

Work with Roger

Roger’s Retirement Learning Center

Direct download: RAM307.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am CDT