Between scientists predicting even more COVID-19 variants on the way, inflation concerns, and market uncertainty, baby boomers are concerned about retirement. A recent survey by Personal Capital and Empower found that economic confidence and financial health were down across all age groups in 2021. However, those aged 55-64 were the most financially hurt by COVID-19.
Despite declining confidence and financial health, Americans as a group are prioritizing paying off debt, saving for retirement, and losing weight. So, optimism and hope remain high.
Near-retirees have options and the power to make a change. Here are five tips to help you increase your confidence about retirement.
Find Someone to Talk To
Alex Lynch, a certified financial advisor at Jarvis Financial, says, “the time period immediately before retirement is one of the scariest but most critical planning periods to having a successful retirement. There is uncertainty everywhere. It can feel as if all the ‘powers to be’ have stacked the deck against you.”
You may never feel as if you have enough money. However, information is power.
Putting the pencil to paper, diagnosing your finances, and knowing where you stand can be freeing. Alex recommends gathering your social security benefit estimate as well as your pension, 401k, and other retirement account balances. Then determine how much you need to make your lifestyle work.
Craig Birk, a certified financial planner at Personal Capital, adds that most people don’t know their net worth, how much money they have, or what they’re buying. So, some near-retirees may find relief through knowledge and planning. Once you understand your cash flow, investments, and retirement plans, you can execute a plan based on your goals.
As you begin to see what you have and need to have, you’ll worry less. Consider bringing in a financially knowledgeable friend or outside advisor to talk to or offer a second opinion.
Make a Plan
Clayton Wood at Wood Financial LLC recommends asking yourself two questions
1) How much annual income do I need to retire?
2) How much do I need to save to complement that income need?
It may sound elementary, but it’s fundamental.
Most Americans retire with two income streams: social security and investment income. Clayton recommends creating an annual budget then subtracting your projected social security benefit. You can safely plan to withdraw 4% of your total investments annually without running out of money in retirement. With this rule in mind, you can calculate your savings goal by multiplying your excess budget and social security payment by 25. Now you have a starting point.
It’s never too late to start saving. As a near-retiree, you still have time. Nick Bormann, a financial planner at Bromann Wealth Management, recommends aggressive savings. Upping the savings rate can be a power play for people close to retirement.
It adds extra padding to the retirement egg and controls living expenses for today. Reducing your costs by saving more today makes scaling back easier in retirement.
As for specific investments, Nick suggests that your investment portfolio includes both defensive and growth stocks. We’re living longer and longer, and as such, we need a portfolio that will keep pace with a rising cost of living.
Time Social Security Right
Claim your social security benefits at the right time. Deb Meyer from Worthy Nest says it’s not ideal to claim social security benefits before your full retirement age.
Suppose you were born in 1960 and are entitled to receive $1,000 every month if you wait to retire at your full retirement age 67. However, you decide to retire at age 62. As a result, you would receive $700 in benefits versus the $1,000 you would receive at full retirement.
It may not seem like much, but it adds up. Three hundred dollars is a 30% monthly benefit reduction on a $1,000 monthly retirement benefit.
So, plan your retirement to maximize your social security benefits. If you can wait to retire at full retirement age, you may save more in the long run.
Focus on the Right Things
You can’t control everything. Inflation, market uncertainty, and supply chain issues aren’t going anywhere soon. So focus on what you can control and keep in mind that retirement may not look the way you’ve seen in the past.
For Jonathan Lore, a senior financial adviser at Personal Capital, “it’s [retirement is] more about having something to retire to; it’s not just stopping work and sitting in a rocking chair.” He has seen people start businesses or side hustles, become consultants, work on hobbies, and travel more in retirement. It’s about finding a retirement plan that works for you.
What About the Next Generation
All is not lost. The Personal Capital and Empower study also found that 40% of people, who COVID-19 negatively impacted, increased their long-term confidence about their financial journey.
A substantial majority of Americans are confident that they can buy what they need to live and have enough to pay bills on time. Also, many are seeking high-income jobs, paying off debt, and planning for retirement.
So, your next steps are up to you. What are your goals? What are you willing to do to get there?
The best place to start is with good financial habits. Once you have a strong foundation, the rest falls into place. Here are five money habits to secure today:
BudgetLimit Bad DebtInvest Early, Invest OftenPractice Delayed GratificationPlan Big PurchasesA certified financial planner from Behl Wealth Management, Brian Behl, believes that having a plan for lifetime tax minimization is vital. In addition, having different types of accounts (pre-tax, Roth, and after-tax) can make it easier to manage tax liability in the future.
Take time now to understand what retirement will look like for you. How will you replace your income? How will taxes, health care costs, and inflation affect you?
Remember, There Is Hope
Near-retirees may feel less confident about retirement, but there’s hope. It’s not too late to prepare for retirement. Arm yourself with knowledge, understand your financial situation, and make a plan.
Retirement today doesn’t necessarily look like the retirement of the past. Today, it’s what you make it. So, perhaps you look at retirement as an opportunity to start a business or side hustle, work as a consultant or turn your hobby into extra money. Maybe you increase your rate of savings and learn to cut costs today. It’s your retirement.
Remember, it’s just that-your retirement. So enjoy the journey to get there for yourself.
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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.