June 17

Americans have no Retirement Savings

Cortes Law Firm Oklahoma City Estate Planning Attorney

How much did you save for retirement?

Do you have a retirement savings? Do you have enough to retire at age 65, 70 or even 75? How big is your nest egg already retired. Do you have enough to last?

Most experts will say that for a $55,000 annual retirement income, the bare minimum is $700,000 in savings. The key is to go into retirement with big assets paid off.

It's probably a bad idea to buy that vacation, home or car you've always dreamed of, right as you start your retirement. I'm not a financial advisor and this is not financial advice.

I tell you guys all the time, you must be the CEO of your own life. People are living longer. You're living longer than past generations. Only 53% of Americans have an emergency fund, let alone a retirement account.

For a long time, generations looked at retirement as a simple thing. You went to work every day and every month money was put into your 401. K or some type of pension.

You've probably heard your parents talk about the 4% rule, the 4% drawdown rule states that you should be able to take 4% from your investments annually during retirement without touching the principal.

Times have changed. Americans are having much, much longer lives. The 4% rule still might be valid. You need to apply it to a much longer life and that means a lot more retirement savings. Retirement is not just ten years or 20 years anymore.

We regularly see our estate planning clients in their eighties and even their nineties. The problem is that most have not saved enough money to live an extra 30 or 40 years.

We advise our clients to meet with a financial advisor because it is an important part of your estate plan.

A recent article on Yahoo finance did the calculations. A single individual with $800,000 saved and spending $55,000 a year will run out of money at age 95. If that single individual had saved $900,000 and spent the same $55,000 a year in retirement, they could leave at almost $270,000 inheritance to their kids, to their heirs.

This takes into account a $30,000 Social Security benefit and inflation. Like I said, I'm not a financial planner, but these numbers are fascinating.

A married couple might enjoy around $60,000 in Social Security benefits with that same $700,000 in retirement savings spending, $55,000 a year would have about $24,000 left over if they both died at age 95. Here is where the numbers get interesting.

That same married couple with $800,000 in retirement savings could leave their heirs almost $350,000 if they died at age 95, just by having a little bit more money; and a whopping $670,000 if they had saved $900,000 for retirement.

These numbers sound fantastic if that is what you actually have saved. Spoiler alert most Americans don't have that. According to a recent study by Vanguard.

Their average retirement savings for Americans at 65 years of age is only $280,000. That means most people are going to be leaning very hard on their Social Security benefits. And it does not leave a lot of room for vacation homes, let alone vacations at all. If you need more than $55,000 annually to live in retirement, then you are going to need a much bigger retirement savings account.

You need a bigger nest egg. The good news for Americans is that the younger generation is actually saving more than, quite frankly, my generation. The first time in decades, people in their twenties and thirties are actually saving for their retirement.

On average, they are saving at least 15% of their income for retirement. What should you do if you are not part of this 20 something group?

Well, start saving.

It's never too late to do these four things first. Really evaluate your income and expenses. I am constantly amazed at how many of our estate planning clients don't know how much they have or even how much they're spending on a monthly basis.

Some of them are very surprised to realize that they have actually accumulated a solid foundation for retirement and they will have an inheritance for their kids.

Second, save unexpected money. A friend of mine constantly brags about a childhood friend of his who inherited recently a quite a bit of money.

This guy upgraded to a mega-mansion. He bought a lake house. He bought a big boat to go on the weekends at the lake, he bought new cars and he's living the high life. His income cannot support all of these luxuries, and at some point it's going to crash down around him.

Unfortunately, we see this all the time. When we are administering estates, we write a check to an heir for a quarter million dollars and within a few months it is all gone. We see this all the time.

If you receive an unexpected windfall, then, well, save it. Use it to boost your retirement. Talk to a financial advisor on how to make that money grow for you for your retirement.

Third, automate your retirement savings. Automate your savings in general automatically deduct from your paycheck straight into a retirement account. Start gradually.

You probably have some debts, pay those off first and steadily increase what you are setting aside every single month for retirement. You'll be surprised how quickly that will accumulate. Fourth, have a very, very candid discussion with your life partner on what retirement means to them and to you and get on the same page.

Recent studies show that men and women see retirement very differently. Surprised men see it as a cabin in the woods or a house on the lake where they do nothing all day long.

Women see it as the next stage in their life, and that could be taking on a new job. Volunteering at a charity. Doing something that is personally rewarding to them. Starting a new business and volunteering at their favorite charity or their grandkids.

Men see it as a time to spend all of their time with their wife. Women see retirement as a time to build and maintain strong relationships with their friends and experiencing new things. Talk to your partner now because you might have very different views on what retirement means.

 Remember, it's never too late to start saving, but start saving as soon as you can, even if it's just a little bit because it'll add up quicker than you think. As always these are for educational and entertainment purposes only. Always check with a financial advisor and attorney.


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