you have a question about your financial affairs? Financial planning consultant, Robert S. Pennartz, takes calls at 1-302-654-5556, extension 138 or 1-800-366-0632, extension 138. A selection of these questions and Pennartz's responses are published in this column. Anonymity is assured.Q. I plan on retiring in five years. Since I only have a short time to go until retirement, should I be rearranging my 401(k) accounts to switch everything to fixed interest option?

A. Boy, retiring in five years. Sounds good! But rearranging your accounts? I think that deserves a better look.

Sure, it makes sense that as you approach retirement you should be more protective of your money. After all, once you retire, you are not going to be adding any additional contributions to your 401(k) account. What's there is it.

But, on your retirement date, are you going to take all of your money out at once? Probably not. You'll most likely use this money as an income, taking from the account little by little over time. And with people living longer and longer nowadays, you'll likely need this income for 25, 30, 35 or more years. Over that long a period of time, you'll need your income to increase each year to keep up with inflation. At 50, you don't just have five years to go; it's more like 35.

Now you'll have to ask yourself what kind of accounts are likely to provide enough of a rate or return to keep up with (and hopefully surpass) inflation and taxes over all of those years. The fixed interest option that you mentioned in your question probably won't do the job. Traditionally, a managed portfolio of accounts has better served long-term retirement income needs.

As always, you should discuss your situation with your financial planner.

o Robert S. Pennartz is a certified financial planner practitioner at the Financial House, a Registered Investment Advisor, in Centreville,

Del. He has been named a Top Advisor by Reuters, the Global Information Company. He lives in Pocopson Township with his wife and children. He is a registered representative offering securities through Lincoln Financial Securities Corporation, Member SIPC. Lincoln Financial Securities Corporation and its representatives do not offer tax or legal advice. You should consult your individual tax or legal professional regarding your individual circumstances.

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