Retirement is right around the corner, and it’s a scary thought. Have you saved enough? Did you invest in the right places? Will your money last?
If you are in the last third of your earning years, roughly ages 50 to 65, a retirement date that appeared certain a decade ago is likely looking a little unsteady now. And if you’re feeling a little shaky about the stability of your nest egg, you’re not alone.
One-third of ‘transition boomers’ — those ages 55-65 — are unsure of how much money they’ll need to cover basic living expenses in retirement, according to a survey of 1,000 seniors by Allianz Life of North America. About 43 percent of seniors in this age group say that they won’t focus on retirement income strategies until five years from retirement, and 16 percent say they will wait until the year before retiring to start planning.
The study also found that 28 percent of transition boomers are concerned they won’t be able to cover basic living expenses during retirement, and 25 percent of transition boomers are unfamiliar with inflation and the effect it can have on purchasing power in retirement.
“This is an interesting age group, because they’re transitioning from wealth accumulation to wealth distribution,” said Frank Armstrong, a certified planner and founder of Investor Solutions in Coconut Grove. “The problem is, if you transition too early, you miss opportunities. If you transition too late, you may not be able to retire.”
Cathy Pareto, a Coral Gables certified financial planner, likens this time period to the last leg of a marathon. “They see the finish line, but they’re not quite there. They still have a ways to sprint,” she said.
Market fluctuations and a sagging economy may require an adjustment in how the home stretch will play out. Factors such as caring for adult children or aging parents — or both — also can force this generation into working longer than planned to accumulate the wealth they need to retire.
“Many people are ill-prepared for retirement, so they have to be prepared to work longer or adjust their lifestyle,” said Pareto, owner of Cathy Pareto and Associates.
Because of market downturns in the past few years, financial planners are advising clients to expect less in returns and to plan to contribute more from their own pocket to retire comfortably.
Here’s what experts say about smart investing for the 50-65 age group:
Having no consistent savings plan and not knowing what they spend are the biggest mistakes among this age group, said Tessie Yuste, a certified financial planner with The Lubitz Financial Group in Miami. “It’s never too late to start saving,” she said. “If you’re 50, you have 15 years. That’s a long time to set aside assets. It’s a process, not a one-time thing.”
Yuste said a 50-year-old could build a retirement account of $460,000 by age 67 with annual employee 401(k) contributions of $10,000 and employer contributions of $4,000, with a globally diversified portfolio. Increasing employee contributions to $17,000 per year, would mean a retirement account of $800,000.
Pareto said a common mistake is people who haven’t saved enough often invest too aggressively to try and catch up. “They forget that the market has downturns, and they need the time to recover,” she said. “On the flip side, some start taking everything out of the stock markets and become too conservative.”