It’s 5:00 – Do You Know Where Your Retirement Stands?


Here’s your “Slap in the Face” Award for this week. And it goes out to the boomers, the millennials and the Gen Xers. Nobody gets out of here alive this week.

There was an article in one of the retirement digests recently by a guy who spent eight years writing about retirement scenarios. He described it as one of the most depressing periods of his life.

I’ve been working with retired people since 1991 and writing about retirement and conservative investing since 2008. Believe me, I know exactly what he’s talking about.

Some days I sit down at my keyboard and I say out loud, “How the hell did we get here?”

I’ve been through the numbers here before. There’s nothing new – not really.

But in case you haven’t been around long enough to know how horrible the retirement saving situation we are in is, here’s a quick synopsis…

Too many families – as many as half of all American families – have no retirement savings… zero!

And in 2013, most retirement account balances were less than half their pre-recession highs and lower than they were in 2001.

For God’s sake, we’re going backward.

The only good news is the older we get, the more we have set aside for retirement. And if you’re one of the 50% of people in this country who have a retirement plan, your numbers are a little better.

For the group aged 55 to 64, the median account balance is $120,000.

Considering the fact that we are expected to live to our mid-80s, and in some cases longer, that means we have about $6,000 per year available to us.

If you’re one of those of us with no retirement savings, the numbers are abysmal. For the group aged 56 to 61, the average amount saved is $17,000.

And the solution most people offer is to work through retirement. But there are two major problems with that thinking…

Age discrimination in this country is rampant, and it is the only type of discrimination that is accepted without question. Getting a job after the age of 55 is nearly impossible.

And we just wear out physically after a while. Working will become a physical impossibility for virtually all of us.

Some of the more conservative estimates I’ve seen for retirement goals are to have eight to 11 times your desired income in retirement saved by age 66.

The average person spends $45,756 per year after they retire. Eight to 11 times that number is $366,048 to $503,316.

Most of us might as well hope for a free ride to the moon.

But all is not lost. I’ve written about ways to cut back on expenses and bank it even after the age of 50. You can put away enough to reach that eight to 11 times estimate.

It can be done, but not without significant changes. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t see anybody changing anything about their spending or saving behavior.

If you’re watching my videos or reading any of the pieces I write, you’re probably one of the exceptions. You’re at least giving it “the old college try.”

And that’s all most of us can do at this point.

I wish it were a more positive or at least funny slap this week, but reality has taken hold.

Do what you can while you’re still working.

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