This article was last updated on May 22
Although many people spend 20, 30 or more years saving for retirement, the sad truth is that today, many people will not be able to retire – even when they reach age 62, the earliest you can start receiving social security benefits. Despite some degree of financial planning, many individuals simply have been unable to reach their retirement income goals and are forced to work well beyond the standard retirement age. In fact by 2030, it will not be uncommon for people to be working into their 70’s.
In some cases, insufficient retirement savings is not necessarily a case of not putting enough aside, but more so a result of the market fluctuations over the past few years that have left many without the nest egg that they had worked so hard to build. Of the many factors affecting why most people cannot retire at age 62, the top reasons include:
- They cannot afford to do so. It is estimated that most retirees will need between 60 and 70 percent of their pre-retirement income in order to retire comfortably. But, due to market conditions, as well as health and longevity factors making your time in retirement longer, many people simply do not have enough stashed away to carry them through if they retire at 62.
- They have had the value of their home decline which has reduced their net worth. Many retirees in the past have had the advantage of living in a debt free home during their retirement years. And, those who have a great deal of equity in their homes have also been able in the past to take advantage of a reverse mortgage – thus, helping to boost their retirement income. Today, however, with the sharp decline in real estate values, millions of retirees will not only be unable to use this option, but most will still have a house payment as well.
- They have had to use some amount of their retirement savings for emergencies or other purposes. Due to job loss or other factors, more and more people have had to dip into the savings that was earmarked for retirement to get them though a current situation. Not only do they lose the benefit of compounding on these funds, they most likely have to pay back-taxes on these hardship withdrawals.
- They do not recognize the impact of inflation. Inflation can be considered the “silent killer.” Even those who have saved for retirement may not have factored in the rising cost of living – as well as the continued rising cost of living that they will incur throughout their retirement years. Stamps are no longer just 27 cents – so people need to be sure that they will have enough retirement savings to not only get them through today’s expenses, but tomorrow’s expenses as well.
- They will pay too much in taxes. Here is where it is extremely important to have an actual retirement plan. Saving for retirement means not only having enough in your portfolio, but also protecting as much of that as you can from taxes. We’ve all heard the phrase, “It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep that counts.” One wrong decision and you could end up losing close to half of your retirement savings to Uncle Sam.
- Many people simply procrastinate. Even though most people understand the importance of saving for retirement, they don’t always understand the ramifications of waiting to start doing so. But, using the power of compounding, the earlier you begin can help you to really get a head start. And over time, the funds can grow substantially, even if you are earning lower than average returns.
Rather than look at the above list in despair use it as a call to action and realize that like the average American, you will not be able to retire in your 60’s. But while working to 70 may be the new reality, you better start saving for retirement now, or you could literally become a working stiff. Even with the ability to only make small contributions, every little bit counts. Your savings of any amount could mean the difference between working indefinitely or enjoying some aspects of a retirement lifestyle.