Older Americans are Putting Off Retirement Is it just the economy or could something else be to blame?
JANUARY 25, 2012
The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) recently reported that older workers
(those age 55 and older) are working longer. This may not come as a surprise to
anyone. The stock market has given everyone a rough ride over the last decade.
Employers are reducing benefits and some stopped their 401(k) matching contributions
when the economy dipped into a recession. It has been difficult to accumulate enough
Most of these issues are recent. However, the report reveals this trend started back
in 1993. Even back when the stock market was doing well and the economy was still
humming along, workers were pushing back their retirement plans.
Americans are losing confidence in their ability to afford a desirable retirement
and have chosen to work longer. EBRI’s Retirement Confidence Survey shows the
percentage of workers who believe they will have enough money to retire in comfort fell
from an already low 18% in 2008 to 13% in 2009. That marked the lowest level in the
19-year history of the survey, and institute officials attributed the plunge to growing
concerns about health-care costs and the economy.
Confidence in achieving a later retirement and spending less—of having a financially secure retirement—has also dropped, from 41% in 2007 to just 20% in 2009. The
declines occurred across all age groups and income levels.
This trend cannot all be attributed to the stock market and the economy. A lack
of retirement planning fuels this anxiety. In the EBRI survey, fewer than half of
respondents said they had even tried to calculate how much they would need during
retirement. And in another recent survey, by Bank of America, only one in three
respondents was “on track” with retirement planning; 23% said they haven’t started
planning at all.
Should it come as a surprise that you are not going to achieve a goal that you haven’t
planned for yet? If you want to be able to retire in the lifestyle to which you are
accustomed, you need a plan to accomplish it. Part of your plan will include an
investment strategy that will help you achieve your goals. This strategy should be
structured to take advantage of the ups and downs in the market. Without a strategy,
investors allow themselves to be overcome by the fear that accompanies the natural
corrections and bear markets.
If you have a comprehensive plan for your retirement years, you’re bound to feel more
confident, no matter what the economy or the markets are doing at the moment. But
planning for retirement doesn’t end with drawing up a document. Monitoring your
progress and making changes as necessary to keep you moving toward your goals is an
important part of financial planning.
The sooner you start this process the better your chances of success because you
will have compound interest working for you longer. Those who are already close to
retirement age should keep in mind that how much you spend is as important as how
much you accumulate. The 4% rule says that you should plan to spend no more than
4% of your nest egg each year. Therefore, if you want to spend $50,000 per year in
retirement from your savings, you will need to accumulate $1,250,000. Controlling
your spending so that you can live comfortably on $40,000 would allow you to reduce
the savings goal to $1 million.
The stock market and economy is no more uncertain today than it was in 1993 and it
will be no more certain 10 years from now. Take control of your future. Make a plan
and start implementing it. You will probably need to make course adjustments along
the way. That’s the nature of planning.
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Rodgers & Associates is a wealth management firm specializing in all aspects of investment, tax, risk management, and estate planning for high net-worth individuals in or near retirement.
Rick Rodgers is one of America’s leading retirement planning experts and author of The New Three Legged Stool. He has been featured in the New York Times, Smart Money magazine, FOX Business and The 700 Club, among many other TV shows and publications. He is the founder and CEO of Rodgers & Associates.
Start planning your retirement today. Compounding interest over time is your greatest ally.
Estimate your desired annual income and divide this amount by 4% to get the size of the nestegg you will need to retire.
Plan your investment strategy to take advantage of the market ups and downs and then stick with it.