Is it just me, or do the months fly by faster each year? It seems like we barely said goodbye to 2015, and here it is, already February in a new year of new ideas and new opportunities with a challenge to make our todays count.
That faraway thing called retirement is still a ways out for me, but with time flying by, and at 56 years old, I know it’s creeping up. Fortunately, I have been investing all along in my workplace retirement account to supplement Social Security, and I trust you are doing the same.
Sadly, Social Security is about the only income too many Americans will have in retirement. In a 2014 Federal Reserve survey, 31 percent of respondents had no savings or pension to see them through retirement. In 2014, 9.4 percent of Americans 65 and older lived below the poverty line; without Social Security, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates, more than 40 percent would live in poverty.
Are you concerned about having enough savings for retirement in the not-too-distant future? Don’t despair — make today count. There are steps you can take to make the most of the next 10 years while you still have time on your side.
First, create a financial game plan. At the very least, establishing a plan will reduce your anxiety because you are finally taking action on something that needs to be done. To start, access the Social Security Retirement Estimator website to gauge your benefits at full retirement age and at 70. You might be surprised by the size of your Social Security check at 70, and this amount will guide you in determining the monthly expense shortfall your portfolio will need to cover when you are finally retired.
Speaking of monthly expenses, it is time to start tuning in to your monthly and yearly burn rate while you are working. This serves as a beginning baseline for how much you are likely to spend in retirement and is the number that drives your financial-planning process.
Second, get a mindset going that it is OK to work a few years past the traditional retirement age of 65. Sure, it might not be your dream job, but any extra income can delay drawing on your portfolio while pushing back the start of your Social Security income. Delaying retirement age by just a couple of years can make an enormous difference in the sustainability of your retirement portfolio.
Once you have solidified your retirement saving, spending, and start date, you can analyze how these factors will impact the longevity of your funds. A yearly financial review, essential while you are working, is even more critical once you are retired. Let’s face it — the vast majority of retirees will need to spend down the portfolio’s principal to cover monthly expenses, and that is OK, as long as you don’t outlive your money. The financial plan guides you on a sensible drawdown rate.
The steps you take today will go a long way toward accomplishing a financially secure retirement tomorrow. Make today count while time is still on your side.
This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of 425 Business.