Planning for retirement can be daunting, leaving even the most-prepared individuals feeling anxious.
In an Ohio Credit Union League 2018 consumer survey, 92 percent of respondents said they had at least one major financial concern about retirement. A majority of the survey’s respondents, about 74.6 percent, don’t plan to retire from full-time employment in the next five years, if ever.
Ohioans’ financial fears surrounding retirement vary. Most, 27.5 percent, fear they won’t have time to save what they need. Another 24.8 percent are afraid they’ll lose what they’ve invested in retirement accounts due to stock market fluctuations, and 24.1 percent worry they just don't know what they need for retirement.
Ohioans aren’t alone with their retirement jitters. In a study of 3,000 Americans by financial firm Allianz Life, 63 percent reported that they fear running out of money in retirement more than they fear death. The study, which included 1,000 Baby Boomers, 1,000 Gen Xers, and 1,000 Millennials, found that half of Baby Boomers believe it is impossible to determine retirement expenses. Another 32 percent of Baby Boomers nationwide are unsure they’ll ever be able to retire, and 18 percent of Ohioans feel the same way.
These fears are understandable; saving for retirement can be overwhelming. Conventional wisdom once dictated that workers should save $1 million by the time they retire, but experts now suggest that won’t be enough, according to a U.S. News and World Report article.
Experts traditionally suggested retired people withdraw 4 percent of their savings each year. That would leave a retiree who has a $1 million nest egg about $40,000 to spend annually. On average, adults 65 and older spend almost $46,000 a year, according to a GoBakingRates survey. With those same withdraw rates in mind, the average retiree would need to save closer to $1.15 million before leaving the workforce.
Many Americans aren’t ready for that reality. According to GoBankingRates, 42 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, and 14 percent have nothing saved.
But retirement statistics aren’t completely bleak. Saving for the end of a career may be intimidating, but Americans have been improving.
Baby Boomers in the Allianz study showed signs of actively securing help with their retirement savings, a move they hadn’t successfully made in the past. In 2010, 46 percent of Boomers said they lacked the tools to figure out how to save for retirement. That number dropped to 36 percent in the most recent study.
Most Ohioans, 74 percent, are also proactively seeking help saving for retirement. According to the Ohio Credit Union League consumer survey, 26 percent of respondents employ a financial planner. Another 16.7 percent seek help from family and friends, while 9.3 percent seek help from online resources found in Google searches.
Being proactive can pay off when it comes to retirement. Here are some savings tips to help you prepare.
- Start now. The earlier you can start saving for retirement, the better prepared you’ll be. Money in retirement savings accounts accrues compound interest, meaning each year the money in that account generates earnings which, in turn, generate their own earnings. The longer the money sits in the account, the more earnings it generates.
- Automate your savings. It can be difficult to put away money for a retirement that can be decades away when you’re focused on affording the present. You may be tempted to spend that money on bills, groceries, and other immediate necessities. Consider setting up your retirement savings to pull directly from each paycheck. The money will never hit your checking account, so you’ll be less inclined to spend it on daily necessities.
- Increase savings with increased funds. While it can be beneficial to automate your savings, it’s equally as important to revisit your retirement account contributions over time. If you receive a raise, for example, consider increasing the amount you’re contributing to your 401(k). Also, consider saving a portion of the money from any bonuses or tax refunds you receive throughout the year.
- Make sure you’re getting your company’s match. If your employer offers a match to your employee retirement plan, make sure you’re contributing enough to receive it. Otherwise, you’ll be leaving money on the table that could have helped toward your retirement goal.
- Take advantage of government aid. The U.S. government provides incentives for those saving for retirement. For instance, middle- or lower-income taxpayers can claim a tax credit for up to 50 percent of their retirement plans. The maximum credit is $4,000 per couple and $2,000 per individual filer. You can also take advantage of catch-up contributions if you’re age 50 or older. Yearly contributions to IRAs and 401(k) plans are limited, but once you reach 50, you’re eligible to contribute beyond those limits.
- Seek help. Saving for retirement is a major undertaking and one that can be confusing. There are online resources available (AARP has a retirement calculator available that can help determine whether you’re on track, for example), but often personal advice can be helpful. Consider hiring a professional financial advisor or utilizing help from your financial institution. Credit unions employ financial advisors and Certified Credit Union Financial Counselors who can help members get on the right track for retirement.
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