Planning for Retirement in the 21st Century

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    Nov 22, 2012
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Retirement is the dream of every American worker. Unfortunately, the dream is fading for many baby boomers because of poor retirement planning. There are several reasons.

The average retirement age for an American worker today is 62 years old. Unfortunately, these folks have seen their 401(k) and other retirement funds undercut by the recession and they do not have enough money to retire. Traditional pension plans have shifted over the last 30 years to plans that require employee contributions. These pension plans were also hit hard by the recession and many are woefully underfunded. Surprisingly, 47 percent of US households are not covered by a defined benefit or contribution retirement plan.

Average retirement savings at age 50 is $43,797. One estimate of what is require for sustained retirement states that a household will need 70 percent of a retiree’s pre-retirement income – without debt – to live comfortably. Baby boomers are saving as little as 38.2 percent of what will be needed to retire. Up to 50 percent of them are unprepared for retirement.

The most astounding statistics may be that only four percent of retirees have accumulated sufficient wealth for retirement. At the same time, up to 63 percent of retirees depend completely on Social Security and family for retirement. Clearly, starting to prepare for retirement is a planned process that begins early.

Most experts strongly recommend beginning a systematic and disciplined retirement savings program when individuals enter the work force in their early 20s. The reasoning is simple – there is more time to accumulate retirement wealth. For instance, a person who starts saving for retirement at 25 and puts away $3,000 per year for 10 years in a tax deferred account at eight percent will save $472,000 – and that amount keeps growing. In the same scenario, a person who begins saving at 35 will accumulate $367,000. That is a significant difference of $105,000.

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) and 401(k) plans are the retirement vehicles of choice among retirement planning experts. They are tax deferred accounts in which taxes are paid after retirement at a lower rate. At a young age, savers should invest their accounts in higher yield growth stocks that will provide the most return. By age 50, the saver’s portfolio should reflect a more conservative and cautious approach to saving and be made up of bonds and stable investments.

Retirement financial planning must start early and continue until retirement. This is the foundation for the retirement dream.

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