Saving strategies are only the beginning, however. Advisers say people should start thinking about other important matters, from where to live to Social Security expectations, in their 40s, if not sooner. Here's a guide.
Start talking with your husband or wife -- now
Couples are having trouble connecting on retirement-planning issues. A May study by mutual fund giant Fidelity Investments found that 62% of couples approaching retirement disagreed about their expected retirement ages, and 47% disagreed on whether they will continue to work in retirement.
Scott Anderson, 51 at the time, took a buyout late last year from his job as precinct deputy inspector of the Nassau County, N.Y., police force. He spent much of last winter helping his twins apply to colleges, he says, and working out an income plan with Craig Ferrantino, a financial adviser in Melville, N.Y.
"One person in the couple usually handles it," Ferrantino says, "but we have a holistic approach, and we like to talk to both people in the couple." By doing so, Ferrantino often finds that partners have different ideas about how much income they need, and how large an investment loss they could tolerate, among other potential conflicts.
Anderson's wife, who has a part-time job at a boutique, plans to work for 10 more years -- and isn't sold on his idea of moving to Utah for its world-class skiing. "If I'm going to move from my primary residence of the last 20-plus years, I see it coming sooner rather than later," he says.
The idea is bringing up issues, he says, because his wife's mother lives near them on Long Island. As a way to compromise, he is starting to think about buying a beach house there.
Couples also can try taking a quiz together to see how they match up on basic expectations. Fidelity offers one here that focuses mainly on finances; others more focused on time can be found here at the Don't Retire, Rewire website, and here on ZestNow.com (click on "Relationships").
A rule of thumb: Vow to spend at least half as much time talking about your retirement plans together as you do about summer vacation plans, says Sarian of Merrill Lynch.
If working till you drop is your plan, think again
Half of baby boomers expect to be in their 70s before they fully retire, according to research released last year by First Command Financial Planning. But people laid off in their late 50s and early 60s, often because of their relatively large paychecks and benefit packages, have a hard time getting back to those levels.
"Anyone who is 55-plus working in corporate America has a bull's eye on their back," says Kevin Reardon, a fee-only financial adviser in Pewaukee, Wis. "We tell everyone who's not the owner of a business to prepare."
The unemployment rate for 55-plus workers was 6.6% in August -- lower than the 9.1% rate for the total labor force. But since the start of the recession, both the number of unemployed and the unemployment rate have increased by a greater percentage for the over-55 age group, according to an AARP analysis. What's more, the average duration of unemployment for older job-seekers is a solid year, compared with 37 weeks for younger workers, the group says.
Of course, an economic rebound could change these trends. But few economists are predicting robust job creation in the next few years.
One potential salve is part-time work. Even a modest income could help early retirees give their battered investments a chance to bounce back before they start tapping them.
Reardon, the Wisconsin planner, counseled one couple recently to have the wife hold on to her job three to four years longer than planned. She works part time, running a travel agency and making about $25,000 a year. She didn't view it as a large contribution to the couple's finances, so she considered quitting so they could move.
Reardon explained that if she kept working, their investments should last at least two additional years -- until she's 84, rather than 82. She has continued -- and can do most of the work in six months each year, he says.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Please. My husband is a truckdriver for a small sand and gravel company and I am a secretary. When we married 26 years ago, we were 35, and had five children between us and NO MONEY.
Somehow we have raised those kids (Had another together.) owned three differant homes and SAVED MONEY FOR RETIREMENT.
No, we will not be traveling to Europe or even Mexico, but we will be able to live in that retirement trailer park with the pool and rec center.
We have had no new cars, only used, and lived on a tight budget. Vacations have been to stay with relatives and children or camping.
Our name is not Kennedy, or Rockefeller or Gates, so we have planned for the BEST RETIREMENT WITHIN OUR REACH. We will have a few camper vacations and visits with the grandkids.
PLEASE people! You can ALL do the best you can and be happy!
Is it realistic to spend $120K per year after retirement? I guess one can spend few millions a year or a day, but using this example maybe a bit out of line considering the one retired most likely do not have a mortgage (with $2 MM in savings) and the kids are gone. I thing between $50-$60K per year would be more reasonable after retirement (assuming the retired spend their money wisely). With $60K per year and $2 MM in savings, that would last them around 34 years. Further assume that you retired at 60 and the average life span is around 82 or so. The $2 MM in saving will last till you die.
Keeping the money in a cash account may cause you to miss any growth opportunity in the market, but it will save you money or your retirement when the market goes down. Another plus on cash is certainty. You know how much you need and you can actually set goal to achieve them. When you have the money in the market... who knows.
And SS is/will be fine. It needs only minor tweaking as happened int he '80s.
The fear-mongers ( who want to end SS because it helps working people) have convinced the young that it won't be around, but that's only true if they convince too many people to drink the kool-ade.
It's moron wednesday again on here. I'm investing for long term and yes I've lost some recently but I'm looking down the road 5 years and more... after Obama's second term when the republicans have had to work with him and change the economy for all of America not just the top 1%, and the Bush Tax cuts have been abolished making America THRIVE once again!
Republicans get off your lazy butts and gety to work! Where are the jobs Mr. Cantor?
these articles are a waste of time, so many people have spent their lives just making a living, putting food on the table, paying the bills and after this is done whats left to add to a retirement account?
With all the houes the government has in its inventory, it should start giving them away for $10,000 per 1,000 square feet, free and clear, after that the government can start giving away cars from government motors (GM) that we paid for, again for like $1,000......then we get blocks of cheese
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