The recent Washington Post article, “Dying at your desk is not a retirement plan” caught my attention. I recall when I first began creating financial plans in 1986, we had a motto, “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
Of course, no one intentionally sets out on a path to fail. But over time, it becomes the default when we never get around to it. The article about dying at your desk is a great example of what could happen when you never take the time to map out a strategy for the future.
“Every one of us is making a decision on retirement every day, in the way we live and spend our money,” says Fritz Gilbert as he was interviewed for the article. “Not making a decision is still making a decision. Spend the money to buy that `thing’ and you’ve made a decision to work longer.”
Regardless of whether we are ready to stop working, it is widely published that most Americans have not planned well for retirement.
Baby boomers, roughly 75 million — those born between 1946 and 1964 — have a median nest egg of $164,000. ¹ The Insured Retirement Institute study found 42 percent of baby boomers have no retirement savings. Among those that do have savings, 38 percent have less than $100,000 set aside for retirement.
The majority of the bubble generation, 62 percent have not planned for or calculated what they may need in the future once they are no longer working.
In addition to having an awareness that there needs to be a plan, make sure it includes inflation, taxes, health and elder care expenses, longevity and market fluctuations at the bare minimum. Then start layering your own wishes for a certain standard of living, including sustainable housing, transportation and care as you age.
The feared epidemic of millions of baby boomers scrambling for retirement dollars is getting closer every day with 10,000 people turning 65 every 24 hours. By 2029, 18 percent of the U.S. population will be age 65 or older. This will likely change the entire economy, including what goods and services are available and how investments perform. ²
Millions of people will rely on Social Security for the main staple of their income in retirement. However, Social Security was never designed to be the sole support for retirees. At the time Social Security was created (83 years ago this month), the average life expectancy in this country was 61.³
It was designed to be one leg of a three-legged stool. Pension plans and personal savings were to provide the other two legs to keep the stool upright throughout retirement.
Nowadays, with fewer retirees expecting to receive pension income, and lack of personal savings, the deficit is growing rapidly.
We need to start with education and awareness.
Then people need to be willing to accept a dose of reality and outline where they are financially. Then it is time to seek a professional to create a strategy to get you on the right path to financial independence.
This is a complex situation that takes some time and commitment to better control your personal outcome. Hopefully your lack of planning does not have you dying on the job. It’s never too late to get started building the right kind of plan for you.
1. Washington Post, June 15, 2018; 2. Pew Research Center; 3. Social Security Administration
Patricia Kummer has been a certified financial planner for 33 years and is managing director of Kummer Financial Strategies LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser with its physical place of business in the State of Colorado. Registration of an investment adviser does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Please visit www.kummerfinancial.com for more information or refer to the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website (www.adviserinfo.sec.gov). Any material discussed is meant for informational purposes only and not a substitute for individual advice. Securities offered through MSEC LLC, Member FINRA & SIPC, 5700 W. 112th St., Ste. 500, Overland Park, KS 66211.
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