Investors identify the key obstacles to saving for retirement. What’s preventing them from meeting their financial goals? What can they do about it?
Most Americans fear running out of money in retirement, but are unable to put enough money away. What’s the key obstacle in to saving for retirement?
A decline in income is the most commonly cited obstacle to saving for retirement, according to a survey of 1,195 investors from a range of wealth levels conducted by Millionaire Corner in November. More than half of survey recipients indicate they’re falling behind on retirement goals because their household income is falling as well. Census data released in September tracked an 8.1 percent decline in real median household income in 2011 compared to 2007, the year before the most recent recession. The real median household income of $50,052 for 2011 is 8.9 percent lower than its peak in 1999.
Unexpected medical expenses are making it difficult for one-in-five investors to achieve their retirement goals, according to our research. A similar share (roughly 20 percent) identifies job loss as an obstacle to saving for retirement. Medical expenses are the largest cause of personal bankruptcies in the United States, accounting for 42 percent of filings, according to CLEAR Bankrupcty. More than three-fourths of the cases involved individuals with health insurances. Job loss is the second leading cause, accounting for 22 percent of bankruptcy filings.
Roughly 19 percent indicate that college costs are keeping them from achieving retirement goals. Tuition and fees are rising two-times faster than general inflation, according to a recent report from The College Board. What steps can investors take to boost their retirement savings despite chronic high employment and a sluggish economy?
·Start now: It’s never too late to start saving for retirement, according to the experts, who urge investors to assess their current financial situation and future retirement needs, then develop a savings and spending plan to point them toward their goal.
·Retirement first, college second: Investors who must choose between paying their children’s college expenses or saving for retirement are typically advised to put their retirement needs first. The reason? Students have access to scholarships, grants and loans unavailable to retirees. They also have a longer horizon for paying off their loans.
·Make full use of retirement plans: Does your employer offer a retirement plan? Does the plan include matching contributions? Such plans offer tax-advantaged strategies for saving for retirement, and the employer match allows investors to boost their savings.
·Seek help, if necessary: Many investors avoid the difficult and complex subject of retirement planning. If you feel overwhelmed seek the advice of a trusted financial professional or help from advocacy groups and government agencies, such as an online resource offered by the Department of Labor called Taking the Mystery Out of Retirement Planning. The non-profit AARPis one of many advocacy groups, agencies and financial service providers offering online retirement calculators and other tools and resources for planning and saving for retirement.