Be afraid. Be very afraid. The Baby Boomers (Americans 50-68 years young) have embarked on a precarious journey toward retirement. And though you may not care if you’re, say, younger than 50, you should. Because if Boomers can’t pay for their foodstuffs and hip swaps, we all will.
It could get expensive. Already, the U.S. government has a debt problem. Healthcare costs are making us chronically sick. And the 1/99 formula bodes ill for the 99%. All to say: A stinky financial fart may be brewing. And it’s not only going to redefine retirement, it may in turn jeopardize countless career-break dreams.
Don’t believe me. Oh sure, I boast a few degrees, aced prob and stats, and hold several certifications, including the BISS (Because I Said So) and WMWY (What Me Worry? Yes!). But, hey, you do the research.
In this case, let’s break it down with 3 lowlights from the 2014 annual Insured Retirement Institute report.
The percentage of Boomers who are confident they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement has dropped to 33%.
Okay. That means about 2/3 of our current and future retirees don’t have a clue. Apparently, they still believe in Santa Claus, Uncle Sam, or the Grateful Dead, who sing, “I need a miracle every day.”
80% of Boomers report having savings for retirement. Of those, about half have $250,000 or more.
Hmmm. Let’s calculate:
Half of 80% (or 40%) have more than a quarter-mil. So 60% have less.
Any financial advisor worth his fancy glasses suggests you’d like 20 years worth of living expenses to retire smartly. Today, U.S. median income exceeds $50,000. Multiply by 20, and that’s a cool $1,000,000 in savings for most folks to get out of bed comfortably post paycheck.
43% of Boomers expect Social Security to be a major source of retirement income; 46% expect it to be a minor source.
In other words, Boomers are counting on SS. Bigtime. Now, that’s not all bad, because (one good source says) SS provides about half of the income for 65% of Americans over age 65. And yet, everyone knows SS is at risk of spending too much while taking in too little (sound familiar?). So prudent pensioners-to-be must ask: Will SS still love me tomorrow?
One solution: Make more; work less
To be sure, we can’t all develop ulcers worrying about other people’s golden years. But we might want to take their medicine by not getting ourselves into the same sick jam.
That starts by taking money—and planning—seriously. Planning pays because, after all, nobody ever took a career break without earning a master’s in Planning first. And the “work less” subhead above reminds us that sabbaticals take time—as in, time away from work (income).
To this Boomer, retirement is not something you delay until your senior moments. Maybe it starts here, now, with what I dub the Retire Now and Then philosophy. Consider taking 5% of retirement along the way, even if it means working 5% longer at the end. You agree, right? Or else you wouldn’t be on this site.
How to do that? It’s not so hard. Try to live by these oh-so terse 11 Commandments of Fiscal Fitness.
For starters, #1 is: “Live within your means, no matter what that means.”
Good luck. We’ll need it. And happy sails…
Kirk Horsted blogs at MakeYourBreakAway.com and offers speeches and seminars too. Since 1990, he’s taken five sabbaticals ranging from 35 to 355 days, from Grandma’s farm (SD) to Waiheke (NZ). He’s embarked alone, with partner, and with his perfect children. When he must, he works as a writer, creative consultant, and college teacher.