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Retirement Savings Advice From Retirees

More than half of current retirees (54%) are confident they will be able to live comfortably throughout retirement. In contrast, only a quarter of those below the retirement age and currently employed (“current workers”) are confident about having enough income in retirement, according to the latest BlackRock Annual Retirement Survey.

The retirees have useful advice for current workers. Specifically, they suggested workers should save early and as much as they can. More than 80% of retirees who described themselves as confident also said workers should:

  • Increase their retirement contribution savings whenever they are able to (90% of confident retirees did this);
  • Make the most of their 401(k) plans (87% of confident retirees did this);
  • Estimate retirement income needs before retiring (84% of confident retirees did this); and
  • Review retirement savings strategy on a regular basis (83% of confident retirees did this).

Those retirees who were less confident had four major regrets. Those regrets were not making the most of their 401(k) plan, not enrolling in the plan early enough, not making a financial plan for saving and not saving the maximum amount allowed by their plan.

Nearly all of the retirees (90%) surveyed think retirement plan sponsors should help plan participants understand their financial requirements in retirement. Current workers were open to advice, but not intervention. More than 85% of workers said they wanted their plan sponsors to advise them on how much to save as well as the ideal asset allocation and risk level for someone their age. They also want to be notified if their allocations move too much out of sync for someone their age. A much smaller number, however, wanted plan sponsors to automatically reallocate their portfolios (43%), automatically increase retirement plan contributions annually (37%) or automatically decide the amount to deduct if a worker is not saving enough (28%).

One factor underlying the data is how retirement savings are funded. Defined-benefit plans (e.g., pensions) account for 44% of income for current retirees. In contrast, defined-contribution plans (e.g. 401(k) plans) are expected to account for 48% of current workers’ retirement income. This puts the onus on current workers to save enough for retirement.

Source: BlackRock Annual Retirement Survey, September 2012.


Discussion

Steven Baker from NC posted over 2 years ago:

A further bit of advice is living well below your means. You don't have to have the best house, the best car, or eat at the best restaurants to be happy. These will kill your retirement savings capabilities. Current workers will suffer from increased tax and health care burdens that will have to be planned carefully planned for, and there are no "second chances", so I would advise a very conservative outlook.


Ed from New Jersey posted over 2 years ago:

My wife and I maxed out our 401(k) contributions years ago. In addition, for many years, we were making automatic mutual fund investments.

We have always lived under our means and learned to regularly invest the rest.

You can always find funding for college education and home renovation.

But there are no programs available to fund your retirement if you do not do it yourself.


Bobby from VA posted over 2 years ago:

When I was working my company had a defined benefit retirement plan as well as a company match 401K. Today, pensions are fast disappearing and employees are expected to be knowledgeable about investment opportunities and appropriate portfolio allocations for their 401Ks. Most are not. It will be more difficult for the next "post-baby boomer" generation than it was for us. And that's not including the likelihood that qualification for Social Security benefits will be more difficult. They need to SAVE - SAVE - SAVE.


James Harless from TN posted over 2 years ago:

Yes, too many folks use credit cards too much, and want more than they NEED. Saving for the future is not as popular as being the big spender, so you have to have your own values and self dicipline. My wife and I were public employees, with employment with pension, and with some use of 401K with very little or no match, But we did make use of the 401K, etc. I found No free sources of good financial advice, and many times those I talked to were bias toward selling products to benefit them, as so called financial planners who were often annuity salesmen. One does need to consider a few hours with a financial advisor who does not sell you products, but looks at the big picture of where best put your resources.


Bill from TEXAS posted over 2 years ago:

I was very lucky when I was just starting in my first job my Dad a banker suggested that I start planning for retirement. He gave me a book on financial planning and was always available for advice. My wife and I planned for our retirement by saving 10% from every paycheck. It was difficult at first but after a couple of years and normal wage increases we never missed the 10%. When IRA’s and 401k started we put our normal savings into these plans for the tax advantages and the match on the 401k, any remaining money went into mutual funds. Instead of buying life insurance when we paid monthly on an annuity. The annuity had a life insurance feature and at age 65 it converted to a monthly retirement payment. My advice to anyone who is just starting out would be to:
• read any keep current on financial planning and budgeting
• depend on yourself and not on a financial planner
• to make maximum use of 401k and IRA’s
• use a Large mutual fund with low overhead costs.
• also monitor you investment performance monthly


Paul from MI posted over 2 years ago:

Not discussed is once you've retired, how can one live until you are 95 with the money saved. In my case I used financial planning tools to provide me with guidance as to how long the money will last. Then I'm planning to spend any surplus. Having a road map showing me the future provides great peace of to enjoy our financialy independentlife. I tell the kids not to worry that if things don't work out, all we'll need from them is a corner of room and a bale of hay.


Don from CA posted over 2 years ago:

Retired at 58, 23 years ago. All of the other preceding comments apply, live below your means, but PLAN, PLAN, and retire TO SOMETHING, not FROM something Wrote an Excel (Lotus 123 back then) plan and re-checked it 7 years later and was right on. Not working but volunteering - Payback mode.


Donald Myers from AZ posted over 2 years ago:

For those employed by a company or a public agency, there will almost always be some kind of pension plan, sometimes like a 401k and sometimes a defined benefit plan or perhaps both. It is very important to pay attention to any materials that are sent from either the 401k or IRA or pension plan. At one time it might have been safe to assume that the plan(s) would not change during the time of employment or at least that any changes would be improvements. That is no longer a safe assumption. Moreover changes might even occur after retiring. Sometimes changes only affect more recent hires but not always, companies use reorganizations to dump retirement plans or make big changes. In addition to pension benefits one must also pay attention to health benefits and the extent to which they are still provided after retirement. Keeping all information sent to employees and/or retirees is essential to protect yourself or at least to be forewarned. 401k's and IRA's provided through an employer usually have restrictions on the investment choices and those might get changed when you least expect it (I speak from personal experience)

It goes without saying that you need to monitor your investments in any pension plan both during your working years as well as afterwards. The benefit of time and compounding is no benefit at all if the investments are just standing still


Paul from MI posted about 1 year ago:

The best plan is one where you run out of money when you run out of time,


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