As April is National Financial Literacy month, and this is National Retirement Planning Week, those who work with retirement plan participants know it’s important to do the right thing(s) when it comes to retirement planning and savings.
But for those you are trying to help encourage, here are five reasons to plan and save for retirement now, and as an integral part of that financial plan.
Because you don’t want to work forever.
Seriously, no matter how much you love your job, if you want to stop working one day – and trust me, you will – you are going to have to think about how much income you will need to live after you are no longer working for a paycheck.
Because living in retirement isn’t “free.”
Many people assume that expenses will go down in retirement – and, for many, perhaps most, they do. On the other hand, there are changes in how we spend in retirement as well – and they aren’t always less. A recent report by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) notes that health-related expenses are the second-largest component in the budget of older Americans, and a component that steadily increases with age. Health care expenses capture around 10% of the budget for those between 50–64, but increase to about 20% for those age 85 and over,” EBRI notes. And those spending shifts don’t take into account the possibility of a need or desire to provide financial support to parents and/or children.
Because you may not be able to work as long as you think.
In 1991, just 11% of workers expected to retire after age 65. Twenty-five years later, in 2016, 37% of workers report that they expect to retire after age 65, and 6% say they don’t plan to retire at all, according to the 2016 Retirement Confidence Survey. At the same time, the percentage of workers who say they expect to retire before age 65 has decreased, from 50% in 1991 to 24% in 2016.
However, the RCS has consistently found that a large percentage of retirees leave the workforce earlier than planned – nearly half (46%) in 2016, in fact. Many who retired earlier than planned say they did so because of a hardship, such as a health problem or disability (55%), or changes at their employer such as downsizing or closure.
The bottom line: Even if you plan to work longer, the timing of your “retirement” may not be your choice.
Because you don’t know how long you will live.
People are living longer, and the longer your life, the longer your potential retirement, especially if it begins sooner than you think. Retiring at age 65 today? A man would have a 50% chance of still being alive at age 81 (and a woman at age 85); a 25% chance of living to nearly 90; a 10% chance of getting close to 100. How big a chance do you want to take of outliving your money in old age?
Because the sooner you start, the easier it will be.
As recently as the 2015 RCS, fewer than half (48%) of workers report they and/or their spouses have tried to calculate – even a single time – how much money they will need to have saved by the time they retire so that they can live comfortably in retirement, a level that has held relatively consistent over the past decade.
Whether or not you feel fully financially “literate” now, you need to have a plan for your retirement. And there’s no time like the present to start.
- Nevin E. Adams, JD