While retirement is projected to be a welcome joy in life, many older Americans are finding this transition out of professional life to be an overwhelming, disillusioned new phase of life. Many often find a loss of purpose and a disconnect from society, which combined with the lack of preparation causes them to regret this decision. Did you know its been projected that the average American will need 8-10x their salary for their later years??
Unfortunately most Americans aren’t properly saving for their retirement, even with the retirement programs available in the work place. Programs such as 401(k), or 403(b) are offered in 80% of work places, but require the employee to sign up to receive benefits. Only about 1/3rd of employees take advantage of these available programs. Many of the older workers nearing retirement are quite shocked when they realize how much they will need, to the point that they feel paralyzed to even begin saving.
Luckily in lieu of this many employers are now structuring automatic enrollment into these programs, with the option to opt out, as people are more likely to save in this manner. However it is important to find out what your employer has structured, and keep in mind it is never to early to begin your savings- especially if there is an offer of matched contributions.
People are also living much longer which means they will need to have more support in their post-career years. We hear that a lot, but have we registered what that means? It doesn’t necessarily mean that we will be incapacitated for more time, sitting in retirement homes being hand fed by nurses. As the younger generation gains more knowledge, awareness, and work-life balance, we are breaking the rules and redefining the prefabricated stages in our lives. Its for this reason that 50 is the new 30.
Essentially we are creating this new era in which we can attain decades of productivity that previous generations didn’t have.
While it is good advice to save 20% of our income, in the grand scheme of things this practice would have to be put into place some 50 years prior to retirement in order to reach 10x our salary.
This outdated outlook on retirement poses a major problem for the younger generation. The younger workers are working for boutique firms that do not offer retirement programs, and are often switching jobs and careers at a higher frequency then ever before. Stocks have proven to be unreliable with two meltdowns in an eight year span, so many are hesitant to make stock investments. So what now?
In our usual fashion- we are breaking the mold. The younger generation is more likely to start a business then any other, and we are developing a different mind set towards retirement. Instead of nest eggs and escaping from 9-5 work life, we are creating opportunities that gives us the freedom to continue working longer. We are merging our work with our lifestyles and goals, by creating work environments that provide financial security but nurture our overall health, well being, and enrich our social relationships.
What this really means is that we need to drastically alter how we plan for our retirements. Perhaps its not as black and white as we once thought, and that we will retire multiple times in our life to pursue different interests, avenues, and compensations. We will inevitably seek more education and new business opportunities, and we may need to tap into our savings earlier then expected.
Ultimately it means finding the right tools to help us in our preparations whether it is online calculators to help manage our finances, free planning resources, or finding a financial planner that is aligned in the same mindset to give specific advice on ways to recreate our work identity, start new businesses later in life, and also guide us into what expectations to have if we only end up working part time. Often it is just the need to stay connected, and be a part of something bigger, that truly gives us that fulfillment in our later years- not the complete absence of work or responsibility.