Many Americans will spend their retirement scrimping and sacrificing, according to a recent Wall Street Journal study. Financial security expert Pamela Yellen, a two-time New York Times best-selling author, offers advice on how to avoid a paltry retirement.
What You Can Do Now to Avoid a Paltry Retirement
According to the study, “a combination of economic and demographic forces has left older Americans with bigger bills and less money to pay them.” Americans approaching retirement today face stagnant incomes, high debt, and paltry 401(k) retirement funds (the median income those accounts will provide is under $8,000 a year for a household of two). The report estimates 40 percent of pre-retirees will have to reduce their lifestyle in retirement. This may mean giving up on dreams of travel and leisure, turning to adult kids for financial help, or working until they die.
Ignoring these problems won’t make them go away, Pamela says. Here are her steps to create a plan for greater security and self-sufficiency in retirement:
- Don’t rely too much on volatile, unpredictable, government-sponsored retirement accounts for income in retirement. If you don’t know the minimum guaranteed value of your savings when you want to tap into them, you don’t have a plan – you’re gambling.
- Don’t rely too much on Social Security or a public pension fund. Social Security will “become depleted and unable to pay scheduled benefits in full on a timely basis in 2034,” according to the fund’s trustees, while experts warn many state pension plans are underfunded.
- When calculating how much you’ll need in retirement, use the currently recommended savings withdrawal rate of 2.8 percent. And to avoid living longer than your money, assume you’ll live to at least age 95. There’s a good chance you or your partner will.
- Save more in guaranteed, safe, and liquid assets. Put more of your savings into financial vehicles that aren’t subject to the high volatility of markets such as stocks, real estate, and other risky investments.
- Before you commit money to any financial product, make sure it will help you achieve your financial goals without taking unnecessary risk, give you control over your money, and provide the peace of mind that will allow you to sleep at night.
“Knowing with certainty how much money you will have upon retirement and every step along the way is the key to building a future free of worry,” Pamela says.