One of the first pitfalls in retirement planning is giving up before you even start. Many people look at projections of what will be needed to retire and conclude it is simply out of reach, so why even try? In conjunction with this defeatist attitude about saving, they may also think Social Security will provide them with a safety net. However, the cold hard reality is, Social Security provides nothing more than a meager income at best.
Do You Already Have a Retirement Plan?
Many employers provide retirement plans, which, together with Social Security, will get you closer to that projected number. Employer-funded programs are usually defined contribution plans, which means the only certainty is the amount of money that will be contributed by the employer. Employees, normally, also contribute to the plan. Often these are in 401(k) plans, with which most people are familiar.
Your first objective with these plans should be to contribute enough of your earnings to build a nest egg that meets your projected goal. The next objective is simply to invest wisely. These plans are administered by investment brokers that offer various investment strategies with varying degrees of risk. When you are a number of years away from retiring, you can take more risk and build the nest egg. As you approach retirement, however, money should be moved to more conservative investments that will hold value.
Other employers may offer defined benefit retirement plans. These plans specify a benefit that will be paid when a certain age and/or years of service is reached. These plans are nice in that they relieve you of worrying about specific investments. They do not, however, typically pay a benefit that meets the projected retirement number.
Should You Do More?
Whether you are in a defined contribution plan, a defined benefit plan, or have no employer plan, the key is to start saving. Do not put it off until you are out of debt. Chances are you will never start. Take advantage of whatever tax-deferred saving instruments are available, such as Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA’s).
Finally, do not underestimate how much you might actually need. These days, many parents are still supporting adult children. In addition, as life spans have increased, many retirees find themselves having to care for one or more parent whose own retirement income has become very dated. Health care costs are also volatile. Medicare will not cover all your health expenses, and you never know what your health care issues may be. Consider long-term care insurance to cover some of these gaps.
This article is a service of Wake Law, LLC. One of the main objectives of our law practice is to help families prepare a financial legacy for their family. We do this through a complimentary estate planning session where we can identify the best ways for you to ensure your legacy of love and financial security for your family. Call our office at (813) 252-8667 to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about retirement strategies and how you can get started planning for your future.