If you want real retirement security, it may not be quite adequate to simply have enough money saved and have documented a detailed retirement plan.
Even if you have created guaranteed retirement income, maximized your social security, have terrific supplemental medicare insurance and know exactly what you want to do in your golden years, unfortunately, plenty could still go wrong. Even the best-laid plans can get derailed.
Be sure to plan for everything that could possibly go wrong in retirement…
Take a look at the top 18 worst things that could happen to ruin your retirement security.
1. What could possibly go wrong to your retirement security? Inflation!
A retirement plan that doesn’t take inflation into account could meet the needs of retirees early in retirement but fail to meet their needs 10 to 15 years in. Inflation normally only slightly increases the cost of goods and services from year to year. However, in retirement, its impact is magnified as each year your dollars have less and less purchasing power.
From 1913 to 2013, the average US inflation rate was only 3.22%. That means prices doubled every 20 years.
Inflation also varies across goods and services. For instance, the cost of medical care has risen at a significantly faster rate over the last 10 years than average inflation. That’s a big hit to retirees, who devote a substantially larger share of their budgets to medical care.
We have seen very low inflation rates over the last few years, but most experts believe that inflation is rising this year.
- For retirement security, use a retirement calculator that gives you control over inflation rates and run some “what if” scenarios to see the impact on your cash flow, net worth and expenses.
2. What could possibly go wrong? Financial fraud
Elder fraud comes in many forms and the results can be devastating.
Data from the Investor Protection Trust Elder Fraud Survey reported that one in five Americans over 65 has been a victim of financial fraud and a 2011 MetLife Mature Market Institute study estimates that financial exploitation costs seniors at least $2.9 billion annually.
- For retirement security, learn more about 6 critical ways you can protect yourself from fraud.
3.What could possibly go wrong? Boomerang kids
Today, many adults nearing retirement age are providing financial assistance to their grown children while in the later stages of their own careers – typically prime earning and investing years.
People age 50 and older have the opportunity to beef up their retirement accounts with additional “catch-up” contributions of $6,000 to IRAs and 401(k)s. If they’re still supporting their adult children, they may not have the room in their budget to make those catch-up contributions. Spending an extra $500 per month on gas, groceries, and health insurance costs for an adult child adds up to an extra $6,000 per year that could have gone to retirement savings.
At age 50, putting away an extra $6,000 per year in your 401(k) could grow the balance by nearly $125,000 by the time you’re 65, assuming a 5 percent annual return.
- For retirement security, prioritize your retirement savings and encourage kids to make their own way. If you need to help your boomerang kids, then focus on giving them a place to live or other benefits that don’t cost you over giving them cash that could go into your retirement accounts.
4. What could possibly go wrong? Claims from potential creditors
And speaking of kids, remember that car loan you cosigned for Junior when he said, “what could possibly go wrong?” If Junior loses his job and can’t make the payments are you ready to pay off the loan? If you have debt or have cosigned a loan those debts can come back to haunt you. If you are involved in an accident, it’s possible you could be sued. Even if you win and don’t have to pay out a large settlement, it’ll cost you money to defend yourself.
- For retirement security, keep your money in the right kinds of accounts. Funds in a retirement plan set up under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) are normally protected from judgement creditors. ERISA-protected accounts include 401(k) plans, deferred compensation plans, and profit sharing plans. Non-ERISA accounts include IRAs (Roth and Traditional) and 403(b) plans.
5. What could possibly go wrong? Parents who need your help
If your kids don’t disrupt your retirement plans, your aging parents might. A 2015 study from BMO Harris found that nearly half of Americans aged 45 to 65 are juggling the demands of caring for children or their aging relatives. Ten percent currently care for both generations while 17 percent expect that they will have to care for the two generations at some point in the future.
The average cost of an assisted living facility is $3,600 per month, and that doesn’t account for more expensive senior care services, such as memory and Alzheimer’s care, which can cost several thousand dollars more. Remember that Medicare and most health insurance plans don’t cover long-term care.
- For retirement security, talk with your parents now about creative ways to plan for long term care costs.
6. What could possibly go wrong? You need long-term care
It’s not just your parents you need to worry about.
A 2014 article from Money called long-term care “the retirement crisis nobody talks about.” Plenty of people don’t have enough saved for retirement, but when you factor long-term care expenses in the mix, almost NOBODY has enough savings.
Unfortunately, not everyone will spend all of their retirement years being active and enjoying all of the fun things they had planned. In fact, someone turning 65 today has as 70 percent chance of needing some type of long-term care services in their remaining years.
- For retirement security, consider long term care insurance. Paying thousands of dollars for a long-term care insurance plan may be a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s something you may have to consider as part of your retirement plan. Again, look at creative ways to plan for these costs. Also, there are new hybrid Long Term Care and Life Insurance or Annuity products that can provide more flexible benefits.
7. What could possibly go wrong? You can’t work
A rapidly growing number of Americans are continuing to work well beyond their 65th birthday. Some because they want to continue working, and some because they can’t afford to give up that paycheck.
But what if you are unable to work into your retirement years? Since the economic downturn in 2008, annual surveys from the Employee Benefits Research Institute show that about half of retirees left the workforce before they were ready. Some were laid off from jobs they’d held for years and other say health problems made work impossible. A recent study showed that many people expect to work until 65, but actually left their main career job in their late 50s.
- For retirement security, be flexible with work after 65. Second careers and new perspectives on retirement jobs can really improve your retirement. Explore the best retirement jobs.
8. What could possibly go wrong? Bad financial decision making
We’ve all made a bad financial decision. We tap retirement savings before we should. We go all-in on something that doesn’t work out. Maybe it’s overpaying for a home, investing in a business venture that fails or forgetting to pay a parking ticket and let it turn into a huge bill.
- For retirement security, try making financial housekeeping part of your monthly routine. You should review your budget monthly and assess your retirement plan quarterly. And, if you are feeling unsure, don’t be shy about asking a lot of questions, researching the topic or even consulting with a financial advisor.
9. What could possibly go wrong? Volatile financial markets
Even if you have made great financial decisions, volatile markets cause a great amount of anxiety for retirees. If your retirement income comes from a pension, you can rest easy knowing that your pension payments are not subject to market risk. But in this day and age, chances are a large portion of your retirement savings is in 401(k)s and IRAs that are likely to hold stock investments that are subject to the risk of market volatility.
- For retirement security, annuities are one way to guarantee your retirement income. Here are some additional tips for turning savings into a reliable paycheck.
10. What could possibly go wrong? Change in benefits
Are you one of the lucky few with a pension? Don’t think you’re immune to disaster. A private retirement plan can change its rules or terminate at any time. If a plan terminates, participants are usually entitled to all of the benefits they have earned, but if your pension plan ends without enough money to pay all promised benefits, your benefit will be limited to the amount guaranteed by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
Consider this: in 2005, United Airlines received court permission to default on its employee pension plan, to the tune of $3.2 billion in pension obligations. The PBGC assumed responsibility for the plans, which covered about 134,000 people, and many employees received far less than they were counting on for retirement.
- For retirement security, if you have a pension, be sure to research the solvency of your plan and think seriously about the benefits of taking a lump sum payment instead of monthly income. And, even if you don’t have a pension, it is probably a good idea to keep an eye on potential changes to Medicare and Social Security.
11. What could possibly go wrong? Great health! (Huh?)
Yes. You read that right. While diminishing health can obviously hurt your retirement. Great health can also indeed be a threat to your retirement security. After all, the longer you live, the more risk you have of running out of money.
In the 1950s, people retiring at age 65 lived until 78. Today’s retirees can expect an average lifespan of 83 or 84 years – which means that half of you will live even much longer than that.
- For retirement security, you do need to plan for a long life. Find out what happens if you really do run out of money.
12. What could possibly go wrong? You get bored
When preparing for retirement, its pretty obvious that you need to figure out your finances. However, many people overlook that they also need a real plan for how to spend their time.
Endless days without responsibility may sound blissful. The reality is that the lack of a schedule, responsibility, intellectual stimulation and social interaction can cause depression and even an early death.
- For retirement security, have a plan for how you want to spend your time. Explore 120 things to do in retirement and consider ways to find meaning for this time of your life.
13. What could possibly go wrong? You own too much house
According to a report on NPR, the size of the average American house has doubled since the 1950s. What’s worse however is how really difficult it can be to afford to live in these homes. The MacArthur Foundation found that between 2011 and 2014, more than half of all Americans made at least one major sacrifice in order to cover their rent or mortgage payments.
- For retirement security, cash in on your home equity. Retirement is the ideal time to consider relocating and downsizing to a more affordable home.
14. What could possibly go wrong? You don’t pay off debt
According to this survey, 8 in 10 middle-income Boomers currently have some debt. Three in 10 devote more than 40% of their monthly income to debt and a quarter have a mortgage with more than 20 years remaining on it.
When living in retirement on a fixed-income, you will not have more money tomorrow to pay off the debt than you do today. So, carrying debt and having to pay interest is akin to setting your money on fire.
- For retirement security, explore 13 tips for dealing with debt.
15. What could possibly go wrong? Divorce
A 2015 study by Bowling Green State University sociologists noted that the divorce rate for people over age 50 doubled between 1990 and 2010, from fewer than one in ten to more than one in four.
Divorce can be a costly prospect at any age, but particularly damaging in retirement
- For retirement security, explore the financial ramifications of divorce. And, maybe divorce is less likely if you and your spouse are on the same page with retirement plans. Here are 8 topics to tackle if you want to survive retirement with your loved one.
16. What could possibly go wrong? Zombie apocalypse
Hey, we’re talking about the worst that could happen, right? When the zombies are heading toward your front door, those 401(k)s and IRAs aren’t going to be much help.
Okay, maybe this is ridiculous, but the point is that we don’t know what is going to happen in the future and we need to prepare our retirement plans for the unexpected.
- In the meantime, for retirement security, check out the CDC’s zombie apocalypse survival guide.
17. What could possibly go wrong? You really do run out of money
Unlike a zombie apocalypse, compelling research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), finds that many of us are very likely to run out of money.
- 83 percent of baby boomers in the lowest income quartile will run out of money in retirement
- 47 percent of boomers in the second lowest quartile will run out
- 28 percent of boomers in the second highest quartile will run out
- 13 percent of boomers in the highest income quartile will run out
Most people who run out of money in retirement continue to scrimp by — living on Social Security income and they have probably opted into Medicaid instead of Medicare. However, a good living retirement plan could prevent this from happening (see below).
18. What could possibly go wrong? You don’t have a retirement plan
If not having a retirement plan is the worst thing that happens to your retirement, you’re in luck! Because it really can be fixed pretty easily. Nobody can predict with 100 percent certainty what the stock market will do or when the zombies will take over, but needing a plan for retirement is certain and something you can get started on today.
No matter how young or old you are, it is not to late to create a plan. Get proactive now and stick with it. You’ll be glad you did.
The NewRetirement Retirement Calculator is one of the best retirement calculators. It answers all of these questions and lets you try out different scenarios so you can immediately find out what happens if you save $100 more each month, spend less or do something big like downsize your home. Best of all, your information is saved so that you can keep planning as your needs and goals evolve.
What could possibly go wrong? It’s never too early or too late to start your retirement plan.
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