Broker Check

The Possible Retirement Dream

You wake up one morning to your telephone ringing. It is early and you cannot imagine who would be calling at this hour…UNITL, you answer and a friend wishes you a Happy Birthday…your 55th birthday, to be exact. Yeah, you are excited, right? Or maybe not really!

Along with these good wishes comes a healthy dose of introspection. You remember opening that piece of mail earlier in the week from your Credit Union urging you to buy life insurance before it too late….too late for what, Dying? Well, we are all going to do that (dying) sometime, right? Cannot much be helped, as they say.

And, what about those notes and letters you get from your bank reminding you to save for retirement? What retirement? You go to Wal-Mart and smile graciously at the greeter, because you figure that someday that might be you.

Truthfully, death is less feared than retirement for many people. When you are dead, you are dead. But, when you retire, well, things are just not the same, because you are still here and not very happy about it. If one is in the job market continuously until full retirement age, the 2016 benefit would be approximately $2639 per month. However in 2016, the average monthly benefit was only $1341. And, for women who are not in the job market continuously, the monthly benefit is often considerably lower. Suddenly, it becomes painfully apparent that your money is operating on a different mortality table that you are….in fact its expiration date might be sooner than the milk in your refrigerator. Not really, but you realize that you will likely outlive the resources that you currently have.

Aha. You realize that you are still asleep and this is a dream…. or a nightmare. It is reality, though. The shuttering fear jolts you out of bed, even though your employer has given you the day off for your birthday.

This is good. Your fear is creating ACTION. You spend the morning rifling through the drawers in the kitchen looking for those statements that you get every month. You know… the ones you do not open. Then you look for the box that collects “stuff” for your accountant. Then you wonder where your 401K statements are, but remember that you chose not to participate. You realize that you chose to forego that generous employer match of 3%. What were you thinking???? That thinking of “retirement is decades away” is no longer valid, as time marched on.

Oh, and this is your apartment, not your house. What have you been doing since you finished college and got a job, or jobs? You have made choices and decisions that are irrevocable….high end furniture, snazzy sports cars, trips to the Mexican Riviera, etc. But, you pat yourself on the back, because you watch the financial news every night on your new 64” HDTV. You cannot turn these “things” in for retirement funds, can you? And, the credit cards for these wonderful “things” are still asking for money. In fact, some these “things” have already gone to the dump, but the payment is living on.

Now that you have gathered your pieces of paper and realize that your assets are few, what are you going to do?

  1. Gather your wits about you and call the HR Department at your company. Make an appointment and find out how to sign up for the 401K.
  2. If need be, make an appointment with a Credit Counseling Service and get help structuring your debt.
  3. Make a budget that you can live with, but that has retirement in focus.
  4. Analyze your spending habits. You should look at your check book and your credit card bills to determine your pattern of spending. Ask yourself why you buy the “things” that you buy.
  5. Enroll in a night course to educate yourself on investing. Or, hire a financial advisor/coach.
  6. Determine, realistically, what amount of money you are likely to need during retirement and how long you think that you will live in retirement. You will need to consider your rent/mortgage, your health insurance, car expenses, etc. The list is long. Do not think that when you retire your expenses will go away. In many cases, they might increase.
  7. There are many factors to consider, including longevity in your family, your health, inflation, other resources such as an inheritance that might be available. Also consider how long you plan to work, assuming you will be able to work.

And, one final thought. LEARN TO SAVE. Think about ways in which you spend a few dollars here and there, with no real purpose or plan. Do not carry extra cash with you. You will just spend it.

Have a Question?

Thank you!