News articles and social media have recently been filled with stories, discussions, and fervent arguments about how much you should have saved for retirement by certain ages. The intention of the articles is good; those of us who work in the field of finance are petrified by the lack of savings accumulated by people who have reached retirement age.
I know retirement planning is challenging. It is hard to set aside hard-earned money for a goal that may seem like it is lightyears away and may never arrive. It is one of those life requirements that no one wants to do, but nearly everyone accepts that they must do.
So, let’s accept the facts.
Fact 1 – Yes, you have to save.
Why? Simple. No one is going to do it for you. Ready for the cold, hard truth? Retirement is different than it was when your grandparents did it. And here’s why:
- Very few workers will retire with a pension. Companies simply aren’t offering them anymore, and workers aren’t staying at a job long enough to earn a meaningful pension if one is are offered.
- Chances are, you’re going to spend more years in retirement. That means you need more money to last the extra time.
- Social Security’s role may be diminished. You’ve heard the scary news about the potential for Social Security to be unable to meet demand. Planning to live in retirement on what Social Security pays was never a good prospect, and it’s getting worse.
Fact 2 – Yes, you can afford to save (and save some more).
See fact 1 again – you have to! So you better figure out how to do it. Don’t make it harder than it is. Start with what you can afford, and start as soon as possible. Time is one of your greatest assets. Not convinced? Check out this calculator or Wisdom Wealth Strategies’ recent blog, which helps explain the power of compound interest.
It’s true that experts recommend saving 10-15% of your income. By those numbers, if you make $100,000 per year, you should be saving $10,000 to $15,000 per year. If you make $50,000, $5,000 to $7,500 is a good target.
Rules of thumb are helpful, but specifics are even better. Put in the effort to figure out what you make after your paycheck deductions (like health insurance and taxes) and then figure out what you’ve been spending. Yep, it takes time. But the payoff is a well-funded retirement, rather than a fixed income budget with no room for anything but essentials. If you find you’ve been spending all your income or more, course correct (and see fact 3!)
Fact 3 – Yes, saving for retirement means sacrifices and hard choices.
There’s no way around it. Like success in any other endeavor, it requires hard work, commitment, and sacrifice. It takes time and determination, but if it is important to you, it’s worth it.
There’s a good saying that’s been floating around on social media lately: “Anything that is worth having is worth working for.” There are many variations and I can’t be sure who said it first, but they were spot-on. Retirement is awesome and it’s worth the work sacrifice.
Fact 4 – Yes, you can achieve a happy retirement if you choose to make it happen!
Andrea Blackwelder is a Certified Financial Planner ™ Practitioner and the co-founder of Wisdom Wealth Strategies, a fee-based financial planning and investment advisory practice. Andrea looks at your complex financial planning puzzle and assists you with the best options and financial strategies that align with your financial needs. To contact Andrea, email email@example.com.