Articles by Kelly Ruggles Back to Article Main Page
When It Comes to Retirement, Timing Is Everything
Most everyone dreams of the day they can finally retire and live the life of leisure. Yet recent evidence suggests that most near-retirees and retirees need to do a better job of timing and long-term planning.
One study, conducted by the Society of Actuaries, looked at retirement risk factors and concluded that while decisions around the timing of retirement are among the most critical, for most individuals, those decisions are not carefully planned out.1
The study found that while a high percentage of retirees/preretirees have considered delaying retirement, when asked how a three-year delay in retirement would or could have affected them financially, almost half of current retirees said a delay would have made them no more financially secure. Among current workers, nearly 40% felt a delay would have no impact on their future finances.
Another trouble spot is time horizons. According to the study, the typical retiree has a planning horizon of just 5 years; preretirees plan just 10 years out. A shockingly low number -- 7% of retirees and 13% of preretirees -- look 20 years or more into the future when making important financial decisions. Even fewer respondents have plans to account for their life expectancies.
Clearly these gaps in planning can have major implications for your financial security and standard of living in retirement. Consider the following points when planning for your own retirement.
Should You Delay?
For many, Social Security is a major component of their retirement income. Social Security benefits increase substantially with retirement age. For instance, for those with full Social Security benefits the monthly payout is substantially higher at age 70 than it would be if you opted for early retirement at age 62. Visit the Social Security Administration's website at www.ssa.gov for more on benefits and retirement age.
Consider a Long Horizon
Regardless of income level, maintaining lifestyle expectations through a retirement that may last 30 years or more requires careful planning. Researchers refer to this planning challenge as "longevity risk," or the risk that an individual could outlive their retirement income. To plan for such a contingency, many financial experts suggest the following game plan:
- Withdraw very conservatively (just 4% or 5% annually) from your retirement accounts.
- Consider purchasing a long-term care insurance policy, which covers nursing home and other long-term care expenses.
- Maintain an allocation to stock investments, for their long-term growth potential.2
- Consult with a financial professional.
1 Source: Society of Actuaries, "2009 Risks and Process of Retirement Survey Report," February 2011
2 Investing in stocks involves risks, including loss of principal. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.