8/20/2012 3:18 PM ET|
Retirement steps for late planners
To retire well, you should prepare well in advance. But if you're in your 50s and haven't started planning yet, these steps are the place to start.
Once people reach their 50s, they finally see retirement on the horizon. They start envisioning that time when they can stop going to work and instead spend their days on the golf course, on the beach or with their families. Yet many people have not saved nearly enough for retirement by the time they are 50. A recent survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, or EBRI, found that 60% of workers born between 1946 and 1964 have less than $100,000 for retirement. In fact, 40% have saved less than $25,000.
24/7 Wall St. interviewed retirement-related experts from brokerage firms, banks, retirement advocacy groups and independent financial advisers. With their help, 24/7 identified the eight actions you should take if you have not prepared to retire.
Financial advisers generally recommend people begin saving for retirement starting in their 20s to take full advantage of compounding interest. Although the financial advisers who spoke to 24/7 Wall St. say it is very hard to give concrete estimates on how much should be allocated toward equities and fixed-income investments, they say it is best to cut risk as one approaches a target retirement age.
Not saving up enough for retirement used to be less of a problem. Workers in previous generations often received pensions from their employers, allowing retirees to know exactly how much money they would get once retired. But employers have increasingly shifted that responsibility onto the employees through 401k and other defined-contribution plans.
These days, notes Joe Ready, the executive vice president for retirement at Wells Fargo, people get married and have children later in life than previous generations did. This means it is increasingly hard to save for retirement during the 40s and 50s because people still face heavy financial obligations -- they are paying off their mortgage, sending their children to college and so on.
The fact that many current retirees are living off pensions has conditioned younger generations to think their retirement might be the same, says Lule Demmissie, the managing director of retirement for TD Ameritrade. "Face it," Demmissie says, "your retirement isn't your parents' retirement."
Demmissie notes that people in retirement today are working until a later age and finding cheaper housing, as they no longer can count on a pension that was once provided to employees. She also points out that while in the past many people have never saved enough for retirement, the problem has become worse since the financial crisis took hold.
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By the time you reach age 50, you should have roughly four times your annual income built up in retirement, according to Jean Setzfand, the vice president for financial security at AARP.The best way to reach that goal is to sock away money, starting in your 20s. But if you are well behind on your goals by the time you reach your 50s, all hope is not lost.
These are the eight things to do if you have not planned for retirement.
No. 1: Reassess life priorities
Part of reassessing priorities is ensuring you have a plan in place. People should have a retirement plan when they are significantly younger than 50, yet the EBRI finds that only 42% of workers of all ages have a retirement plan.
If, at the age of 50, people find themselves inadequately prepared for their dream retirement, they should start by looking at the future, Setzfand advises. "The first thing people should do is consider, 'What do I want to do with the rest of my life?'" The answer to that question will help decide what actions need to be taken, she explains. Before moving forward, it is important to ask such questions as "Do I really need that second house in Florida?" or "Can I afford to start a trust fund for my grandkids?"
People need to consider how much they are willing and able to fund their children's college education. Setzfand notes that many parents in their 50s will foot most or all of their children's college bill to make sure their children don't end up with debt early in life. However, she cautions people to be careful and make sure they have enough money to build and sustain their own retirement nest egg. After all, you can't borrow to fund your golden years.
No. 2: Take advantage of increased contribution limits
If you are late saving for retirement, you may need an extra boost to get closer to your goals. Once people reach 50, the amount of money they can contribute annually to their 401k and their IRA increases from $17,000 to $22,500 and from $5,000 to $6,000, respectively. Employees should take advantage of these higher contribution limits if possible, since contributions to these plans are often tax-deductible.
Plus, many employers match contributions up to a certain amount, meaning that employees are forgoing free money if they do not contribute enough to get the maximum employer match. "If you have access to a 401k, jump into it with two feet," Ready says.
More from 24/7 Wall St.:
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I'm 57 and have only 77k saved. that's not much.
I should get 1600.00 and my wife 500.00 from SS
Not near the 4000.00 we currently "struggle " to live on.
No trust funds in the kids future, just good advice. Save
money early and often and don't wait like Pa Pa did.
"Nest egg should accrue 6% over inflation rate to cover health care costs" - where the hell can I get that deal, Ms. Pearson?
Increased costs of government in the form of fees and taxes need to be factored in, too.
In Sunnyvale, CA we annually see utility prices go up with no improvement in service. It has actually declined. The mandatory fee for "meter reading" has doubled in seven years. The meters have not been changed for over 15 years. Police officers can and do retire at 50 years of age and collect $14K per month - yes, per month. Health insurance is included. This is from a city of 120K residents.
Simple parking tickets are $57. Traffic offenses cost $240 to $500 for minor infractions. The government is attempting to balance the budget on the backs of the accused. The government exists for itself and not the people.
So, it is an increase of $5 here, $10 there but it adds up. Retirees on fixed incomes are standing in the bread lines.
I agree with Stumpy One -how can someone save who does not earn $150,000 a year while they
are struggling to pay the every month bills? Not me.
Also, I wish people would not get on the comment areas and advertise dating sites, etc. - it's for comments - not advertising for lonely people.
The information provided is scary. I cannot believe that we will have to pay about $240,000 for health care on top of Medicare. This seems to be an unrealistically high number. I could believe this if there were no Medicare. My father who passed away at 90 was in a nursing home and had very little out of pocket expenses. I had to go over his financial records after he passed away and I would guess that he had less than $30K of expenses. He also had to pay 100% for his meds. When Part D was passed, he did not realize what he had to do to get coverage and never did.
Who needs life insurance in retirement? Just make sure that you spouse has enough money to live on. Life insurance is for young people to protect your family against an accidental death.
The savings rate in the USA is abysmally low. Without Social Security, we would be in even worse shape. Many certainly would have to move in with their adult adult children. Even with Social Security, I have always believed that a person needs around 10 to 15 times your annual salary saved to supplement whatever you will get from SS. How many are on that tract when more than half have less than $100K saved?
No, the place to start is reading the handwriting on the wall and getting repositioned in a career/job that won't fail and wipe you out. If this has already happened, then it's time to survive and start over again, this time taking on FEW IF ANY responsibilities, living without, or downright going uninsured.
Even doing this, is your net worth even safe these days? We just don't know. There's always gold... no guarantee there, either.
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