Most workers expect to rely upon diverse sources of income in retirement. Some of these, like 401(k)s, IRAs, and Social Security are pretty common and well-known, but as concerns about retirement funding continue to grow, we find people seeking more unorthodox ways to cover their bills.
Some of these strategies are sound, but there's one alarming trend that only seems to be growing over time.
Who gets the bill?
While most workers plan to rely upon retirement savings, Social Security, a pension, or even a job, nearly one in four workers expects support from family members to be a source of income in retirement, according to a recent Anytime Estimate survey. This attitude is more common among younger generations. Just 14% of baby boomers say they plan to rely upon family for support, compared to 23% of millennials and 29% of generation Z.
It would be nice if we could count on assistance from others in retirement, but it's dangerous to build this assumption into your retirement plan. There's no guarantee that any of your family will have the money or desire to support you financially in retirement. Even if they attempt to help, they may not be able to provide as much financial support as you need.
Plus, expecting others to support you in retirement can place a huge financial burden on them. They'll have to divert their limited financial resources away from their personal goals and retirement savings to help you pay your bills. This can set up a vicious cycle in which each generation becomes dependent on the next for retirement assistance.
A proactive savings approach is best
Consider support from family members or friends as a measure of last resort. Do your best to prioritize your personal savings right now. If you have access to a workplace retirement plan, you can have money automatically withheld from each paycheck so you don't have to remember to make the contributions yourself. You could also open an IRA and invest money there.
If you fear that's not going to be enough, consider other options like working part-time in retirement or delaying your retirement date. This can help ease the strain on your personal savings without making you dependent upon anyone else.
Those who find themselves without enough money in retirement should look into government assistance programs before asking friends or family for support. The federal government offers monthly supplemental security income (SSI) checks to blind, disabled, and low-income seniors. Your state or local government may also offer programs to help with your basic living costs.
Homeowners might also consider tapping into some of the equity in their home via a reverse mortgage. This is only available to homeowners aged 62 or older with substantial equity in their home. It essentially enables you to borrow against the equity in your home without making any loan payments during your lifetime. But when you die or permanently move out of your home, the balance of the loan comes due.
Having several sources of retirement income is a smart move, but you want those sources to be under your control as much as possible. Planning on other people's support is dangerous and could lull you into a false sense of security about how much you need to save on your own. Instead, take some time to review your retirement plan and come up with some alternate strategies for how you might make ends meet.