The remarkable stock market rally of 2017 – in which the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index shot up 22 percent and the Dow Jones industrial average 25 percent – has boosted the nation’s retirement accounts to record heights, making the painful 2008-2009 stock market crash feel like ancient history. And that fervor has not faded with the new year.
That feeling of optimism could spread as more Americans receive their year-end retirement account statements in the mail and online this month, providing concrete evidence of newfound paper wealth.
And some are so confident that they are taking money out – despite it being taxed and potentially hit by an early-withdrawal penalty – assuming it will be replaced as markets continue to surge upward.
“I’ve seen more money requests for extraneous items in the last six weeks than I have in the last five years,” said Jamie Cox of Richmond-based Harris Financial Group, which manages $500 million in savings for about 800 middle-class families.
“There’s a lot of people that are feeling comfortable spending their retirement money right now,” Cox said.
Cox said he is seeing more people take larger withdrawals, $20,000 to $40,000, to fund dream vacations or home improvement.