With Social Security in its 79th year, and with real concerns about the future of the program, there is a different reality for retirement planning than when the agency started many years ago. Preparing for a secure retirement has changed drastically with today’s Baby Boomers living in what many call a YOYO (You’re On Your Own) economy. It is now important to look at retirement planning in a whole new way.
One Phoenix advisor, Andrew Rafal, an investment advisor and founding partner of Strategy Financial Group, offers insight on how to help prepare for the challenges of retirement. “A retirement plan in today’s world will look very different from what it looked like the past. For previous generations, there were company pensions, a well-funded Social Security program and personal savings, including home equity. Today, many retirement savers don’t have those retirement income sources to count on, making planning for requires a much different thought process than generations past,” says Rafal.
While the viability of Social Security is questionable after year 2033, it is still around today. If you’re a Baby Boomer quickly approaching retirement, when and how you file for your benefits is very important to understand. As most people know, you can start claiming Social Security any time between ages 62 and 70, but did you know the longer you can afford to wait, the more your monthly benefit amount grows. This could add up to a significant difference over the course of your retirement. How you file is also important: For instance, a single person has nine different claiming options and couples have 81 all of which could affect the benefits you receive, so it’s critical to evaluate your options carefully.
Another change over the past few years is the decline in the availability of pensions. Many state and corporate pensions have experienced financial difficulties over the years and have cut costs by lowering pension payouts and putting more of the responsibilities to save enough on the individual. Many companies have opted to get rid of their pension program altogether and offer defined contribution plans, such as 401(k) and 403(b) plans and similar, as an alternative.
Rafal says, “This trend away from state and corporate pensions has shifted the burden to the individual who now must contribute enough in order to create a secure income in retirement. In this YOYO economy how well you live in your golden years is up to you and how well you plan.”
No matter where you are on your journey to retirement, it is extremely important to be proactive when building wealth for retirement by saving the most money that you can afford. Put saving on autopilot with automatic payments. If you don’t see the money each month, you may be less likely to miss it.
The key to a secure retirement for most has become personal savings. Unfortunately, the housing and stock market volatility over the past decade stalled many retirement plans. Many have learned over the past decade that accumulating personal wealth, and maintaining it, can be a difficult challenge.
“The “modern retiree” will need to work even harder than generations past to build and manage their personal savings as for most this is all they will have,” says Rafal.
Be cautious with your investments. Extreme stock market volatility and economic uncertainty, as seen over the past decade, shows how unpredictable the economy can be. Take charge of your saving strategies and do not risk too much of your hard-earned money in any one specific savings or investment vehicle.
Be flexible with your investments. Economic conditions often change in a fast-paced global economy, so adjustments to your financial plan may be necessary. The key to success is the ability to adapt to evolving market conditions.
Be strategic with your investments. Choose a variety of different financial instruments and investment vehicles so no one particular investment severely impacts your long-term financial and retirement goals. Diversification is critical to help avoid suffering a huge loss.
While retirement planning has changed over the past decades with some knowledge and guidance, it is still possible to secure a great financial future. One thing is for sure, the earlier you start the better off in the long run you will be so start saving as soon as you can.