Retirement Q&A

BY: Jeff Supple

In the U.S., nearly 10,000 people turn 65 each day, a trend that is expected to continue until 2029. That's 3.65 million people every year, for roughly the next decade. And the scary thing is, most people spend more time planning their next vacation or car purchase than they do preparing for retirement.

A few years ago, I was interviewed by a local media outlet on the broad topic of retirement. That being an evergreen subject, I've repurposed that conversation into the Q&A below, in the hopes that something may resonate with you.

Q: What is the age that most people retire?

A: The average anticipated retirement age is around 66, though the actual retirement age trends closer to 62/63. The discrepancy can be due to a conscious decision people make to retire earlier; however, it is often due to circumstances out of a person’s control, such as health issues, layoffs/forced retirement, required care of an elderly parent, etc. We encourage people to plan for these types of unforeseen circumstances, so that they will be able to make retirement work,even if it’s earlier than they expected.

Q: What are some questions you should ask yourself before you retire?

A: Do I have a handle on my expenses? Which expenses will go away in retirement (e.g., mortgage)? Which will be greater (e.g., travel)? And equally important to those: Where is my income going to come from?

Fewer than 20% of private-sector employees have a pension, and that number gets smaller every day. Social Security will only replace about 30% to 40% of your income, so you need to identify other sources, such as retirement savings (401[k]s/IRAs) or part-time work, if necessary. If you are making withdrawals from your retirement savings, you also need to determine how much you can safely take out to make that money last over your lifetime.

Q: What are some mistakes to avoid heading into retirement?

A: Underestimating healthcare costs. A 65-year-old couple will spend, on average, $300 thousand on healthcare costs in retirement, not including long-term care costs.

You've also got to consider the non-financial aspects of retirement. A question we often ask pre-retirees is, "What does work provide you, other than a paycheck?" For some, the answer is social fulfillment; for others, it's a sense of structure (a "reason to get out of bed in the morning"). Believe it or not, having a handle on how you’re going to fill you day can be a big problem for some people. Volunteer work, weekly coffee with friends can help fill the void and lead to a fulfilling life after they are done working.

Of course, these questions and answers merely scratch the surface of the discussion that everyone planning for retirement should have with their advisor. If there is anything that you'd like to discuss about how to prepare for your non-working years, please reach out to me via email or at 608.849.2706, and let's start the conversation.

Jeff Supple

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