For every American over the age of 55 that thinks he or she has enough money for a comfortable retirement there is another who thinks the opposite. With life expectancy increasing it is certain that the latter will be right and likely the former may not all be right. Even healthy people can expect increased medical bills during retirement. In the population as a whole all indications are that the ratio of those with insufficient funding at present is far more alarming. The National Institute on Retirement Security suggests as many as 85% of the general population fear that have not done, or are not doing enough.
Social Security benefits will not do it and they were never designed to. Funds are dwindling with fewer contributors and more claimants. Congress does not appear sympathetic to calls for an injection of funds, essentially more taxation, and without it there is a prediction that benefits will actually fall by as much as 25% by 2030. Even worse news is that government announced fairly recently that pension plans need not pay out benefits that they were previously contracted to do. That could have an enormous impact on the planning for millions.
What is the Answer?
It is unlikely that decision will be reversed. As a result you should devise a strategy for yourself, and get appropriate advice where you need it. One thing to consider is dividend stocks. Over the last 40 years Ned Davis Research points out that they have produced over 20 times more than non-dividend paying stocks. But perhaps the best thing to do is to start at the beginning and that is with the preparation of a budget that reflects your income and expenditure and maps out a course of action that you must take to get yourself in a position whereby you can actually be putting money aside towards the future, essentially your retirement.
How to Act
- You need to list your income and expenditure. The expenditure must include all small daily spending, regular bills and commitments including any loan repayments, credit card settlement and utility bills.
- Once you have listed these items you will have the total picture and should begin to look at where you need to act.
- Credit card debt is expensive. You need to settle that debt by taking a personal loan at a much lower rate of income. Once the balance is paid then you should never use the card again if you cannot settle the balance in full at the end of the statement period.
- At the same time you might look at some of your service suppliers, insurance, telephone and utilities, to see if you can save money.
The revised budget after these courses of action should look much healthier. If you can now see a significant surplus you can think about saving every month towards the future.
The Factor of Age
Depending on your age you can now start to plan for the future. The younger you are the more time you have to let compound interest work in your favor. Even a small amount set aside each month when you are in your 20s can growth to an impressive figure by the time retirement comes along. While there has been erratic performance in retirement plans in recent years that is no reason not to start one. You have nowhere else to go have you? Employers will match your contributions up to a certain level; this is free money and you need to take advantage of that although employers have no further responsibility concerning its growth.
There are more serious implications for those a bit older. Time is not on their side and once people reach 50 or more they need to urgently review their position. They cannot afford risky investment but equally they need growth. Diversity minimizes the risk of investing and perhaps that should be a guide to every investment choice. The process of creating the monthly surplus will not be easy especially if you have lived from pay check to pay check for many years. You must do it however because you do not want to remain in the 85% that are struggling to get their finances in order prior to retirement.