For most Americans, building a sturdy retirement nest egg is a long-term endeavor that involves decades of hard work and a seemingly never-ending commitment to consistently make contributions to retirement savings accounts.
There are a variety of reasons why building a retirement nest egg is so challenging for many Americans. One key challenge, however, is the ever-expanding cost of living, which has been rising steadily for many years. Inflation puts pressure on people to save more money just to be able to maintain their standard of living in retirement.
The cost of housing, food, health care and other necessities has made it difficult for people to keep up with their expenses, even if they are working full-time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has increased by an average of 2.3% per year over the past 10 years. That means that if you want to maintain your standard of living in retirement, you will need to save enough money to cover the cost of inflation.
Of course, the amount of money you need to save will vary depending on your individual circumstances. If you live in a high-cost area, you will need to save more money. If you have a long retirement, you will also need to save more money.
One general rule of thumb is that you need to save at least 10% of your income for retirement. If you can save more than that, you will be in a better position to maintain your standard of living in retirement.
Another rule is the 25 times rule, which says that you should have 25 times your planned annual spending saved by the time you retire. So, if you plan to spend $50,000 per year in retirement, you would need to have $1.25 million saved.
Yet another rule of thumb is the 4% rule, which says that you can withdraw 4% of your retirement savings each year without running out of money. So, if you have $1 million saved, you could withdraw $40,000 per year.
However, these are just general rules of thumb, and your actual savings goal will depend on several factors. These factors include your age, because the earlier you start saving, the more time your money has to grow. Another involves expenses, because the lower your expenses, the less you need to save. The amount of your income also is a big factor, because the more you earn, the more you can save.
You also have to take into consideration your desired lifestyle. For example, if you plan to travel extensively in retirement, you'll need to save more.
Then there’s the matter of our health. If you have health problems, you may need to save more to cover medical expenses. According to one recent study, a single person age 65 in 2023 may need approximately $157,500 saved (after taxes) to cover health care expenses in retirement. An average retired couple age 65 in 2023 may need approximately $315,000 saved.
That’s why it’s important to work with a financial professional to create a customized retirement plan that meets your specific needs.
It's important to consider inflation when planning for retirement. Inflation is the rate at which prices increase over time. If inflation is high, your money will not go as far in retirement. This means that you may need to save more to maintain your desired lifestyle.
Retirement planning can be complex, but it's important to start planning early. The sooner you start saving, the more time your money has to grow and the less you'll have to worry about in retirement.
The decline of the middle class hasn’t helped the situation. The middle class has been shrinking in recent years as more and more people are falling into the lower or joining the upper class. This means that there are fewer people who are able to save for retirement, as they are struggling to make ends meet today. With the gap between the rich and the poor growing, those who are already struggling to make ends meet are finding it even harder to save for retirement.
Contributing to the overall problem is the fact that retirement savings have become less accessible. In the past, many employers offered traditional defined-benefit pension plans, which guaranteed retirees a certain income for life. However, these plans have become less common in recent decades, and many employers long ago switched to 401(k) plans, which require employees to save for their own retirement. This can be a challenge for people in the middle class, as they may not be able to afford to save as much money as they need to in a 401(k) plan.
Another factor is the gig economy, which has grown in recent years as more and more people are working as independent contractors or freelancers. But gig work can be unstable, which makes it difficult to save for retirement. Because gig workers have unpredictable incomes, they may not know how much money they will have coming in from month to month, and that makes it difficult to budget and save for retirement.
Also, while traditional employers offer retirement benefits, such as 401(k) plans and pensions, gig workers are often not eligible for these benefits, which means they have to save for retirement on their own. Another wrench in the retirement planning machinery is that gig workers typically have to pay for their own health insurance, a major expense that inhibits the ability to save for retirement.
All of these factors make it difficult for Americans to save for retirement. So, if you are struggling to make ends meet today, it is important to start saving as soon as possible. Even if you can only save a small amount each month, it will add up over time. Additionally, there are a number of government programs and resources that can help you save for retirement.
Here are some tips for saving for retirement if you are struggling to make ends meet:
Yet another challenge to retirement savers is the stock market, which has been volatile in recent years, making some people hesitant to invest in retirement accounts.
There are a few reasons why the stock market has been volatile in recent years. The global economy has been in a state of flux, with a number of major economies experiencing slowdowns or recessions. This has led to uncertainty in the markets, which has made investors more likely to sell stocks when they see a decline.
Also, the Federal Reserve in 2022 began a steady increase in interest rates in an effort to combat inflation. This has made it more expensive for companies to borrow money, which has led to some concerns about the health of the economy. As a result, investors were selling stocks in anticipation of a recession.
Don’t forget that the COVID-19 pandemic also had a significant impact on the stock market. The pandemic caused a sharp decline in the market in 2020, but it subsequently recovered. However, there is still some uncertainty about the long-term impact of the pandemic on the economy, which has made investors more cautious.
Nonetheless, it is important to remember that the stock market is a long-term investment. Over the long term, the stock market has always trended upwards. This means that if you invest in the stock market and stay invested for the long term, you are likely to see your money grow.
Of course, there is no guarantee that the stock market will continue to go up in the future. However, if you are looking for a way to grow your money for retirement, the stock market is still a viable option for those young enough to deal with a downturn and the patience and financial wherewithal to wait for markets to eventually recover. For those near or at retirement age, it may be an unwise option to remain significantly exposed to market risks unless you’ve got plenty of time to wait it out.
Despite these challenges, it is still possible for most Americans to build a sturdy retirement nest egg. The key is to start saving early and to make consistent contributions over time. Even if you can only save a small amount each month, it will add up over time. Additionally, it is important to diversify your investments and choose investments that are appropriate for your risk tolerance.
Here are some tips for building a sturdy retirement nest egg:
There several factors that put your retirement at risk. Three major threats are longevity risk, sequence of returns risk and inflation risk because they can all lead to a person running out of money in retirement.
Longevity risk is the risk of outliving your money. This is a major concern for retirees, as life expectancy has been increasing in recent years. For example, in the United States, the average life expectancy at age 65 is now 84.2 years for women and 81.1 years for men. This means that a 65-year-old couple today has a good chance of living to be 100 or even older.
Sequence of returns risk is the risk that you will experience a series of poor investment returns early in retirement, when your portfolio is still relatively large. This can have a significant impact on your retirement savings, as it can reduce the amount of money you have available to withdraw each year. For example, if you retire in a year when the stock market experiences a major decline, you may be forced to withdraw more money from your portfolio than you had planned. This can lead to your portfolio running out of money sooner than you expected.
Inflation risk is the risk that the cost of living will increase faster than your retirement income. This can make it difficult to maintain your standard of living in retirement. For example, if inflation is 3% per year, and your retirement income is only increasing by 2% per year, you will effectively be losing purchasing power. This means that you will have to cut back on your spending or find ways to increase your income.
There are a number of strategies that can be used to deal with risks to your retirement nest egg. Some of these strategies include:
It is important to note that some strategies for dealing with one risk may conflict with strategies for dealing with another risk. For example, saving more money for retirement can help to reduce the risk of outliving your money, but it can also increase the risk of sequence of return risk.
The best way to deal with these risks is to develop a comprehensive retirement plan that takes all of these factors into account. This plan should be tailored to your individual circumstances and goals. It is also important to review your plan regularly and make adjustments as needed.
Alliance America is an insurance and financial services company dedicated to the art of personal financial planning. Our financial professionals can assist you in maximizing your retirement resources and achieving your future goals. We have access to an array of products and services, all focused on helping you enjoy the retirement lifestyle you want and deserve. You can request a no-cost, no-obligation consultation by calling (833) 219-6884 today.