Breakdown of Baby Boomer Savings
The report at SeniorLiving.com showed the following statistics for Baby Boomers as of December, 2016:
37% - Saved less than $50,000
13% - Saved between $50,000 and $100,000
14% - Saved between $100,000 and $200,000
12% - Saved between $200,000 and $300,000
09% - Saved between $300,000 and $500,000
15% - Saved $500,000 or more
How Much Does the Average Retiree Spend?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical household whose head of house is age 65 or older spent $44,664 in 2015. That cost-of-living has probably increased since that time.
How Much Income Can the Average Retiree Expect?
Social Security is designed to replace approximately 40% of an employee's pre-retirement income, although many Baby Boomers mistakenly believe it will replace 90% of their income, instead. In 2017, the average single retired person collects $1,360 in Social Security benefits. The average couple receives $2,260 in benefits. This translates to an income of $27,120 a year for a retired couple, far below the $44,664 the average household spends. At a 6 percent return, only the people who have saved $350,000 or more (less than one-fourth of retirees) will have enough savings to make up the difference between their income and the average cost-of-living for the typical retired couple.
To make matters worse, many certified financial planners recommend retirees withdraw no more than 4% of their retirement savings per year at the beginning of retirement, and increase that amount very gradually, in order to be confident they will not run out of money during the remainder of their lifetime. This means they would actually need to have $450,000 or more in savings in order to maintain an average lifestyle. Unfortunately, the vast majority of retirees do not come close to having that amount of savings.
What to do if You Have Not Retired Yet
If you are getting close to retirement, but you have not stopped working yet, here are a few steps you can still take to deal with a shortage in your retirement savings.
1. Start cutting your expenses now, while you are still working, so you can adjust to your future cost-of-living and, at the same time, free up more income for savings. It is better to make small sacrifices now, if it means you will be more comfortable later in life.
2. Increase the amount of money you have going into an IRA, 401(k) or 403(b).
3. Postpone retirement until age 70, which could increase your Social Security benefits by approximately 24% over what you would receive if you begin to collect at age 67. This action alone could substantially reduce the amount of savings you will need during retirement.
4. Pay off all your bills, including your auto loans and mortgages, if possible, to minimize your expenses during retirement.
5. Discuss your retirement plans with a certified financial planner to make sure your savings are invested appropriately to maximize your earnings and growth.
What to do if You Have Already Retired
If you have already retired and realize you are going through your savings much more quickly than you expected, you may want to see if you can find a part-time job and reduce the size of your savings withdrawals ... or even postpone making additional withdrawals until you are older and unable to work. This is the best way to maintain your independence and salvage your savings after retirement.
Retirees who are falling short may also want to see if they can find a less expensive place to live, cheaper car to drive, or make other adjustments to cut their cost-of-living.
Finally, if you are concerned about outliving your money, you may want to talk to a financial planner to see if you can increase your income without using up the principal you have saved.
If you are interested in more ideas about preparing financially for retirement, where to retire, common medical problems, changing family relationships and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.
For an overview of retirement planning, watch for my book, Retirement Awareness, which is being published by Griffin Publishing and will be available in 2018.
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