January 2016

Fish jumping into a different bowl

Few Put Finances First When Retiring

Will you retire when you want to, when you have to, or when you can afford it?

This is crucial, because when Americans retire is more important than it’s ever been to our financial well-being in old age. Yet the research indicates this doesn’t carry enough weight in people’s decisions.

This doesn’t make any sense. The typical combined 401(k)/IRA balance is a slim $111,000 for working households between 55 and 64 years old that have a 401(k). And fewer and fewer retirees have defined benefit pensions, which provide reliable income. More than half of us are at risk of experiencing a decline in our standard of living after we retire, estimate economists at the Center for Retirement Research, which supports this blog.

Yet a recent survey by Fidelity indicated that the majority don’t think about the financial impact of their retirement timing. Retirees and pre-retirees said leisure was a major reason they have retired or would retire – even if they were falling short of their financial goals.

The most powerful route to improving workers’ prospects is to delay retirement, which dramatically increases monthly Social Security benefits and the income that can be withdrawn from a 401(k).

But Mark Zoril, a Minnesota financial planner, said pre-retirees typically do not drill down into their finances, though they have a vague idea of where they’re at. What he often sees is that an important change precipitates the timing of a retirement, whether a friend’s retirement or deteriorating health. …Learn More

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