|Are you ready for retirement?
What's the amount of money that younger workers should
put aside to guarantee their retirement security?
The Center for Retirement Research suggests they should
consistently set aside 6 percent of their income (assuming a 3 percent
additional match from the employer) for a total of 9 percent. If
the money is invested prudently and not tapped for other purposes
during their working years, this should provide adequate income.
But other estimates run higher. Christine Fahlund,
a certified financial planner at T. Rowe Price, says workers should
save 15 percent of their incomes to ensure a prosperous
retirement. She figures this would result in enough assets to
replace just 50 percent of pre-retirement income.
change is needed: The consequences
The study cites several reasons for the dramatic change in our nation's
"retirement income landscape." For starters, Social Security
benefits will be delayed for many boomers, as the retirement age
for full benefits rises from age 65 to 67. Other factors that spell
doom: We live longer; we don't have traditional pension plans to
fall back on; and bond yields and stock market returns aren't expected
to produce a lot of income for retirees.
Also, we stink at saving outside our retirement plans,
and we're not even that great at saving within our defined contribution
plans. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said in a speech
that workers don't pay enough attention to their savings and investment
decisions. "Notably, despite the tax advantages of 401(k)
contributions and, in some cases, a generous employer match, one-quarter
of workers eligible for 401(k) plans do not participate,"
Here's the retirement study's finding: "In theory,
401(k) plans could provide adequate retirement income,
but individuals make mistakes at every step along the way, and the
median balance for household heads approaching retirement is only
$60,000. ... Households fail to participate (in retirement plans),
fail to save enough, invest too conservatively, or concentrate excessively
on employer stock, and fail to roll over their plan balances on
Not surprisingly, the study discovered that those
making low incomes are at higher risk of not having enough in retirement,
and may not even be able to afford the basic necessities, while
those in the highest income group (not all that high, with a median
income of $100,000) may just have to alter their lifestyles in retirement.
Tell your sons and daughters to start saving for retirement
at the same time they're paying off student loans. And increase
your own savings if you possibly can.
Here's the bottom line: We can choose to spend less
and save more now. Or we can spend less later because we won't be
able to afford to do otherwise.
Longtime financial journalist Barbara Mlotek Whelehan
earned a certificate of specialization in financial planning.
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