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Planning for retirement is tough enough these days, but living in retirement can be even tougher.
It's crucial to avoid misleading, nonsensical myths surrounding the topic, says the website Bankrate.com. Retirement planning is the difficult work of preparing for and living in a financially comfortable retirement.
$1 million will be enough: This sounds like a lot, but a million bucks is not what it used to be. People are living longer, and with the continuing rise in the cost of living, a million dollars no longer guarantees a five-star retirement. Most people will need to have enough money to support them for 25 to 30 years in retirement. Depending on your lifestyle and where you live, $1 million won't go that far. Few of us have $1 million in nest eggs and never will. Less than 5 percent of our population has $1 million in a retirement account.
Life expectancy in the U.S. is not 90 to 95; that's a "best case" range. The average is 78.5 years, says the CIA website. Its 2012 worldwide life expectancy estimates are: Afghanistan (49.7), Uganda (53.5), Pakistan (66.4), Iran (70.4), Venezuela (74.1), Poland (76.3), Argentina (77.1), South Korea (79.3), United Kingdom (80.2), Israel (81.1), Hong Kong (82.1), Japan (84) and Monaco (89.7).
You'll spend less money retired: Many people expect to reduce their spending once retired, but this is rarely the case. Typically people spend more in the initial retirement years when they're still healthy and energetic. They travel more, spend on hobbies and other interests and do things they put off while working. Retirees usually cut back later when health issues reduce the desire to travel or spend on hobbies.
Put your money in bonds and CDs: All investments have a trade- off, including so-called safe investments that offer principal preservation. "When it comes to retirement investing, most people realize too much aggression is not good. But being too conservative can be just as risky. Putting all of your money in bonds and CDs is not necessarily safe when you consider the effects inflation can have on a retiree's purchasing power."
College education is top savings priority: We all want our kids to be educated, productive members of society, if only to keep them from depending on us as much. It is admirable for parents to want to fund their kids' education so they graduate debt-free but it should never come at the expense of their retirement savings. It's easier to borrow for an education than to borrow for retirement. Parents who spend most of their money on their children's education wind up depending on their kids for support in retirement.
4 percent is a safe withdrawal rate: A pervasive belief is, "If you withdraw no more than 4 percent per year, your money will last for your lifetime." Two glaring inaccuracies debunk this theory: (1) Market volatility battered retirement portfolios twice last decade and (2) Inflation is the silent waster of buying power, last year averaging 3.2 percent, after rising to 3.9 percent in September. In February the annual inflation rate was 2.9 percent. Bank of Oklahoma one-year CD rates ($1,000 minimum deposit) were 0.3 percent, meaning the CD will be worth $1,003 after one year minus the annual 2.9 percent inflation rate, giving the CD $974 in buying power.
Social Security won't be enough
Many people don't save much for retirement; they expect Social Security will be enough to pay their bills.
When Social Security entered the retirement picture in the 1930s, it was never meant to be the primary source of income for retirees but was intended only as a safety net for those destitute in their retirement years. It was never designed as the foundation of anyone's retirement plan.
However, Social Security was the largest source of income for people age 65 and older, accounting for nearly 40 percent of their income, on average, in 2008, according to a study by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute.
Today, the average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker is $1,200 - an amount that would put a single person slightly above the federal poverty line if they had no other source of income.
Even current Social Security benefits may be on an unsustainable path. To deal with the issue, the government may have to raise the retirement age for eligibility, cut benefits or take another course of action. Most people believe Social Security will be around for many generations, but unless action is taken to address future shortfalls, it may become a reduced source of income for retirees in the decades ahead. See the Social Security Administration "Retirement Planner" calculator.
Medicare is not all you will need in retirement. The federal health-care program is a lifesaver for those 65 and older and for younger people with disabilities. But its coverage is hardly comprehensive.
This states: "It is important to separate the facts from misconceptions about Medicare coverage, costs to beneficiaries and efficiency of the program. For older Americans and people with disabilities, Medicare represents a major pillar of health security. It provides them with access to essential health services and has substantially reduced the financial burden associated with serious illness.
"Medicare is not overly generous. It provides fewer benefits than most employer-sponsored health insurance and covers just half of beneficiaries' total health-care costs. In the past, Medicare spending per beneficiary has grown more slowly than private health insurance. In the next 10 years, while Medicare spending will grow as the number of beneficiaries continues to grow as the boomers age, Medicare spending per beneficiary is projected to grow at about the same rate as the overall economy."
Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?
Most baby boomers were in their 30s when writer, actor, economist and lawyer Ben Stein spoke these famous lines as a high school economics teacher in the 1986 cult classic "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." In real life, Stein is an economist and spokesman for the National Retirement Planning Coalition, and he warns that "Social Security will provide only about 40 percent of the funding most families will need in retirement."
The group's National Retirement Planning Week is April 9-13.
The coalition was formed by a group of prominent financial industry and advocacy organizations to raise public awareness of the need for comprehensive retirement planning. Next week, it hopes to demonstrate that it is possible to "retire on your terms" if comprehensive plans are developed and managed now.
The Insured Retirement Institute says 63 percent of baby boomers "lack full confidence they will have enough money to cover medical expenses in retirement."
Between now and 2029, boomers will turn 65 at a rate of 7,000 per day; seven years from that date, officials at the Social Security Administration predict that its Social Security Trust Fund will go into the red if no reforms are adopted.
(c) 2012 Tulsa World. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.
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