By Andrew J. Tudor
Financial Advisor with Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company. It’s always a great time to reevaluate your financial goals and dreams for the future. Whether you are decades from retirement or only a few years away, many people have misconceptions about how achievable retirement is, how much they’ll need, and what resources are available to them as they prepare to retire. There is also the universal tension between living for now and saving for later. These factors create a lot of anxiety around preparing for a secure future.
To empower people to make the most of their financial futures, I have compiled several retirement myths below, as well as insight to dispel those myths:
Myth #1: It’s too late. I’m too old to save for retirement.
While you may not have started saving earlier in life, there are still opportunities to accumulate savings now. Take advantage of the catch-up contributions permitted by the IRS, and make sure you’re collecting all your company’s 401(k) plan matching contributions. Additionally, you can open an IRA or Roth IRA account to supplement your retirement savings.
Myth #2: Retirement means not working.
People are increasingly engaging in phased retirement, second careers or part-time work after their first career ends. One reason for this is that people are living longer, healthier lives. The longer you live after work, the larger your nest egg needs to be. Some are phasing their retirement for financial reasons, while others realize a second career or part-time work can make their golden years more fulfilling.
Myth #3: I won’t be able to rely on Social Security.
While the Social Security Administration projects that the trust fund for retirement benefits will be depleted by 2034, it believes it will be able to pay roughly 75 percent of benefits through at least 2092, and that’s if nothing happens to change the system. While Social Security is likely to continue to provide a base of income for many years, it’s a good idea to have supplementary income available in retirement. IRAs and 401(k)s are a good, tax-advantaged way to supplement social security income.
Myth #4: If I save enough to live to age 85, that should be enough.
It is true that the expected lifespan is 75-85 years, but with advancements in medicine and health care, living to 100 is becoming more and more common. It’s essential your retirement plan provides income to support you until you die. It’s better to have more money at the end of your life than to have more life at the end of your money.
Myth #5: I’m too young to have to worry about saving for retirement.
You’re never too young to start saving for retirement. Starting early makes it possible to take advantage of compound interest which grows exponentially. For example, let’s say you have $5,000 saved by the time you’re 25. If you let that money compound at a 7 percent annual rate of return, it will be worth more than $81,000 by the time you retire at 65. That’s compound interest.
Myth #6: What’s in my retirement account is all mine.
While traditional IRAs and 401(k)s are critical tools in saving for retirement, it’s important to understand the tax implications of those accounts. A dollar in those accounts has never been taxed, but it will once it’s withdrawn in retirement. For example, at an effective tax rate of 15 percent, a withdrawal of $10,000 will only get you $8,500 after taxes. With Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s, taxes are paid as the money goes in, so you don’t owe any more when drawing on those funds.
Myth #7: In order to work with a financial advisor, I need to have extra money to invest.
A financial advisor can be a helpful partner for anyone, regardless of their financial situation, and his or her expertise goes beyond simply saving for retirement. An advisor can help you live the life you want now while still saving for later. Whether your financial goals include paying down debt, setting up a budget, opening a retirement investment account, or recommending 401(k) investment options, an advisor can guide you through the process and help you make informed financial decisions.