According to the Federal Reserve, 31% of non-retired Americans have yet to put money away in retirement accounts for their golden years. Since financial advisors typically recommend that retirees will need roughly 70% of their pre-retirement income to support their lifestyles in retirement, the lack of savings suggests that if these Americans hope to be financially secure in retirement, they'll need to overcome whatever obstacles are preventing them from saving, and start socking away a good chunk of their income soon.
Reason to worry
Many retirees may be forgoing retirement savings in hopes that Social Security will cover their expenses. However, if that's the case many would-be retirees may end up disappointed. On average Social Security provides just 40% of a worker's pre-retirement income and as of last year that amounts to an average Social Security payment of just $1,294 per month, or $15,528 per year.
If you don't think that is going to be enough, you're not alone.
According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute's annual "Retirement Confidence Survey" only 18% of American workers are very confident about their financial security in retirement. A whopping 24% are not confident at all. Those are startling percentages, but the findings are even more concerning for people who don't participate in an employer sponsored retirement plan, or an IRA. Among those that don't participate in such retirement plans, the percentage of Americans that are not confident at all about their financial security in retirement doubles to about half.
Closing the gap
According to the Social Security Administration, despite the fact that Social Security payments aren't supposed to be relied upon as the primary source of income in retirement, 22% of married couples and 47% of single people count on them for 90% or more of their retirement income.Since so many people are counting on benefits as a major source of income, its little wonder that people are nervous about their future financial security. If you're one of them, it could be a good time to start taking matters into hand.
The most obvious way to do this is to create a detailed budget, cut some discretionary spending, and then take advantage of your employer's retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or 403(b) plan. These plans allow you to contribute a percentage of your income every pay period and those investments can add up quickly over time. For example, setting aside $250 per month for 20 years in an investment returning a hypothetical 6.5% annually results in a portfolio valued at $116,479.
If your employer doesn't offer a retirement plan, you still have options. In the 2014 and 2015 tax year, you can invest up to $5,500 in a traditional IRA ($6,500 if you're over age 50) and as a bonus that investment may qualify for a tax deduction that could lower your tax bill. Or you can also invest a similar amount in a Roth IRA without a tax deduction today in exchange for tax free withdrawals during retirement. Setting aside $5,500 for 20 years at that same hypothetical 6.5% annual return results in a portfolio that could be worth $213,541.
If you can't put away that much money right now, commit to doing as much as you can. Investing even 1% of your income to start, and then increasing that investment by an additional 1% every year, may not give you enough savings to live a life of luxury, but it could go a long way toward making sure you achieve financial security in your golden years.
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