What do you plan to do once you retire? Do you picture yourself on a beach, lazily sipping margaritas and watching the waves? Or maybe you’d like to travel the world. How much do you think your specific plan will cost you?
In a study published in June 2013 by the National Institute of Retirement Security, researchers found that in America, prospective retirees are about $7 trillion dollars short of what it would take them to retire comfortably. This situation is prevalent all around the world.
One of the reasons why so many people fail at estimating how much they need to save for retirement is that they believe in things that simply aren’t true. Let’s take a look at some of the myths that most people believe in when it comes to building a nest egg.
“I don’t think I’ll need as much money as I do now once I’m retired.”
Ask yourself – when do you spend the most money? Is it on the weekdays, when you’re rushing to and from work? Or is it on the weekend, when you’re shopping or attending social events? If you’re spending more money on your days off right now, what reason do you have to believe this will change when you don’t need to go to work at all?
A lot of retirees spend most of their money within the first few years. As a rule of thumb, you should estimate that you will need about 75% of your current income to maintain a comfortable standard of living once you are retired. Of course, this depends on how much of your money you actually save. If you spend most of your current income, you’ll probably need more than 75% to keep you going once you have retired. Make sure you calculate correctly when you are formulating a savings target.
“Moving to an income tax-friendly zone will benefit me.”
There are good reasons to move to places where retirees don’t have to pay any income taxes. However, you need to consider the other costs that will inevitably pop up as a result of moving to a new place. You might find that the living expenses and real estate in your new location are much higher, thereby negating any savings you would have made on the income tax front.
In addition, if you move to a different state, you will have to travel more frequently to visit your relatives and friends. Don’t abandon your current location just because you’ll save a little bit of tax money.
“I will have to pay less taxes once I’m retired.”
A lot of people mistakenly assume that they will have to pay lower taxes since they’ll technically be earning less money. We’ve already established that it is quite possible that your post-retirement expenses might be equivalent to those you have currently. In addition, by the time you are retired, you will probably have paid off your mortgage, which means that your taxes will be higher since you don’t have a mortgage deduction anymore. You’ll also have to pay taxes on the money you withdraw from your 401(k) accounts.
“My medical insurance will cover all of my healthcare.”
Your health insurance isn’t free. Even basic Medicare insurance costs around $3000 a year. If you opt for a more intricate plan, you will be paying extra. Once you get older, your body and immune system won’t be as robust as it used to be in your 20s. Therefore, it is highly likely that you will need to spend a significant amount of money on your health. The costs of routine visits to the doctor, regular check-ups and medication will add up eventually. Nursing homes aren’t cheap either. To make sure you avoid these problems, invest in some long-term health insurance.
“I need to make sure my kid’s college tuition is completely paid for before I start saving for myself.”
College courses are really expensive nowadays. If you have more than one child, paying for the entirety of their expenses until they’re graduates can leave you financially crippled. And when your children finally take the first steps towards finding their own place in the world, you will be a burden to them monetarily. This isn’t a desirable scenario for you or them.
You are responsible for your children, but you need to figure out a balance. Make sure you don’t need any financial help from your children to secure your retirement.
“Bonds are safer, so I’ll just invest in bonds.”
If recent trends are anything to go by, the economy is more volatile than ever. While bonds are generally less risky than stocks, it doesn’t hurt to diversify a little. If interest rates in the future are higher than they are today, then all of the bonds you invest in won’t be worth as much when they mature. During the great economic crash of 2008, bond markets suffered tremendously. You shouldn’t put all of your eggs in the bonds basket.
Seek out some professional advice and add some stocks to your portfolio. You need to make sure that you’re protected against any potential problems in the future.
“I’ll only need to take care of myself once I’m retired.”
It would be great if this were true, but unfortunately, it isn’t. In a study performed by the Pew Research Center, it was found that more than a third of the millennial generation still lived at home. This means that you could be responsible for providing for your children and other family members well into your retirement years.
If, for some reason, you aren’t able to avoid a scenario like this completely, you need to make some plans to deal with it. Have an honest discussion with your family and any dependents you might have about how expenses will be managed after you’ve retired. You might have to make some tough decisions, but it will be for the best of everyone involved. You also might have to take care of your much older parents, so you need to take their medical costs and other expenses into account.
“I have a 401(k). I’m safe.”
If you’re regularly putting money into a 401(k), you’re doing well. But like all other investments, it’s risky to have all of your hopes pinned to a single one. Every withdrawal you make from a 401(k) or an IRA is taxable. It’s better to diversify and create a flexible portfolio for yourself by investing in several different avenues.
“If I spend all of my money, I can simply keep working.”
The future is uncertain, even for the best of us. The advent of the internet and other work-from-home avenues has given seniors the ability to keep working in their golden years. However, you shouldn’t just assume you will be physically able to work past the age of retirement. Health problems can occur at any time. Even if you exercise regularly and eat healthy now, an unforeseen injury could make work difficult for you in the future.
Even if you are a perfect specimen of health in your 60s and 70s, you can’t account for changes in the economic scenario. Future recessions might cause a massive dearth of jobs, and advancements in technology might make several job profiles totally obsolete.
“I’ll never be able to save enough money, so why bother?”
It’s completely understandable if you are cynical. Expenses are going to follow you around even after you’ve stopped working. However, this is no reason to give up on the idea of saving money completely. Instead of trying to hit a magic number, work on improving your investment profile steadily. Start saving a little more money each year. Consult a professional to get some ideas about what you need to be doing differently. Even if you don’t become a Zuckerberg next week, taking small steps forward will get you farther than you imagined.
In summation, most of us walk around with a lot of misinformation about retirement. If you don’t plan correctly, your retired years aren’t going to be the most pleasant ones of your life. The traditional notions of retirement are on their way out, so make sure you’re not walking around with any of the above myths in your head.