Take action to save for retirement
Retirement is supposed to be a reward for decades of hard work, but if you haven’t planned well, the milestone may be a dark cloud on your horizon. In fact, new data shows that nearly 50 percent of Americans are most afraid of outliving their income or the inability to maintain their current lifestyle, and nearly 20 percent are worried about having enough money to cover health care expenses.
The research, released by the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council (IALC), also found that despite these very real fears, Americans are failing to take action to address them. For example, a quarter of Baby Boomers, the age group closest to retirement, have less than $5,000 saved for retirement and nearly one in five Americans have no idea how much they’ve saved.
The findings indicate that Americans are afraid of the unknown when it comes to managing their money and retirement. While you can budget for leisure and travel, health care expenses and life expectancy are unpredictable.
“Americans are living longer than ever, so it’s no surprise that the No. 1 retirement fear is that they’ll run out of money in their final years,” said Jim Poolman, executive director of the IALC. “Thankfully, there are strategies and products out there that can help you create sufficient retirement income to last throughout your lifetime, which can help with this crippling fear.”
To take control of the uncertainty and create peace of mind when it comes to retirement, here are some simple steps you can follow:
Make a budget.
Those who plan for retirement are estimated to save three times more than those who don’t. Take into account that your expenses may increase during retirement, specifically for items such as health care and travel. Also, be sure to revisit your budget periodically to make adjustments for new circumstances that affect how much you need to support the retirement lifestyle you desire.
Balance is key.
Investing in a 401(k) is a great way to start a retirement portfolio, but putting all your eggs in one basket is a common mistake. One method to provide balance to your retirement portfolio is to add some more conservative, low-risk products, such as Fixed Indexed Annuities (FIAs), which protect your principal regardless of market ups and downs. According to the survey, FIAs are an attractive choice for consumers, with 45 percent of Americans surveyed interested in this type of retirement product.
Plan to adjust.
A savings strategy that makes sense today might not fit your needs in five, 10 or 20 years. Factors like market volatility, changes in your career or personal life, can impact the amount you’re able to save and how much you anticipate needing when you reach retirement age.
Monitor the balance.
While it’s not as critical to track the ups and downs of your portfolio in your younger years, the closer you are to retirement, the more important it becomes to be aware of your account values. Your level of risk should reflect your age and your retirement goals. Generally, the younger you are, the greater risk you may be able to tolerate because market cycles generally rebound losses over time. When the window of time before retirement is tighter, you may not be able to recover from a dip as easily.
Small changes count.
Even seemingly little adjustments can have a noticeable impact on your finances over time. For example, packing your own lunch and giving up an evening out with friends once weekly or monthly will allow you to direct that money to a retirement account instead. Also, be sure to pay your credit card bills on time to avoid fees that not only affect your credit rating but deplete funds that could be directed to retirement savings.
Make it automatic.
Set up scheduled transfers so you don’t forget or aren’t tempted to spend the money you planned to save. Treat your retirement account as a debt you owe and be sure to pay yourself every month. If necessary, meet with a financial advisor who can help you determine a strategy to pay down debt without sacrificing your retirement planning.
Find more tips and tools to guide your retirement planning at FIAinsights.org.