Wondering if your Social Security income will be enough to help maintain your lifestyle in retirement? If so, you’re not alone. Eight out of ten people don’t believe their payment will cover their future needs.1 And they could be right. Social Security is expected to stop paying benefits in full by the year 2034.2 And even if it were to pay in full, the average payout is around $16,000 per year - barely above the poverty line.2 Even if your mortgage was paid off—could you live on that?
If you have an inheritance or savings from an IRA, 401(k) or other investments, you may be in better shape. But you’ll need to consider the effects of inflation on your money and that you may live 20 to 30 years in retirement. It’s entirely possible that your Social Security payment combined with your other savings could still leave a gap in the amount of money you’ll need each month to live the life you’re accustomed to. What’s a golf-loving, spa-going pre-retiree to do?
Start saving more now.
Whether you’re 20 years from retirement or already there, you can always find a few places to tighten your belt. If you have a 401(k) consider contributing the maximum amount, and if that’s not realistic, at least increase your contribution by a few percentages. You’ll likely never miss that money and it could make a big difference in your savings over time. Use this qualified plan calculator to see how contributing just a few percentage points more can affect the money you’ll have down the line. If your employer offers a contribution match and you’re not making the most of it, you’re turning away free money. Free money. That’s something you rarely get in life, so don’t short your future self this great benefit.
Visualize yourself in retirement.
If you’re not a great daydreamer, try one of the many aging apps available, like AgingBooth or Oldify. Sometimes people delay saving because they can’t make the connection to their future selves, retirement seems far away, and it feels like there will time enough to save. Research showed that people who used an aging tool contributed more of their earnings to their workplace retirement plan.3 If that doesn’t work, think about this. Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday you were enjoying the hit TV shows Seinfeld and/or Saved by the Bell? Well, it’s been almost 30 years since those shows debuted, my friend. (I know, I can’t believe it either!). Just imagine how much money you’d have if you had the foresight to start saving back then. Moral of the story: Time flies—don’t waste another minute.
Consider working longer.
Unless you absolutely love your job, working longer may not sound like much fun. But if you want to keep your current lifestyle in retirement, it could be necessary. Working a few years longer will shorten the time you’ll have to rely on your savings and increase future monthly Social Security payments. On that note, if you can do so, think about delaying the age at which you begin taking payments from Social Security. The current age of availability is 62, but if you can wait just a few years until your full retirement age - based on the year you were born - your payments will be bigger. Go here for more information.
Use a portion of your savings to create lifetime income.
More than half of advisors believe at least some of their clients who don't own annuities will run out of money during retirement.4 The purchase of both an annuity and an add-on benefit5 give you the ability to create income payments you can’t outlive.6 For an investment of a portion of your savings, an annuity with an add-on benefit allows you to protect your income payments when the market goes down and grow your money when the market goes up.
Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Annuities are investment products created by insurance companies, which have the unique ability to offer features and add-on options that protect against outliving your savings or having to drastically change your lifestyle in retirement. In fact, annuities are the only investment products that have this guarantee. And while annuities are not right for everyone, for many, they can help bridge the income gap and reduce concern about outliving one’s money.
Work with an advisor.
If you already have an advisor, three cheers for being one of the roughly four out of ten people who know better than to go it alone.8 If you don’t have an advisor, consider working with one. I’ve provided a few ideas that could help narrow your income gap in retirement, but an advisor will dig deeper and consult with you to customize a plan that suits your level of comfort with risk, your values, and your life priorities. So, take the first step toward tomorrow, today. Your future self will thank you.
1Insured Retirement Institute and Jackson, “The Language of Retirement,” 2017.
2Paul N. Van de Water and Kathy Ruffing, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Social Security Benefits Are Modest,” August 7, 2017.
3Mark Dennis, Forbes, “Save More Money by Meeting Your Older Retired Self,” April 12, 2017.
4ThinkAdvisor, “Most Americans Get No Financial Advice: Survey,” June 2016.
5Insured Retirement Institute and Jackson, “The Language of Retirement,” 2017
6Optional benefits are available for an extra charge in addition to the ongoing fees and expenses of the variable annuity.
7Guarantees are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.
8Insured Retirement Institute and Jackson, "The Language of Retirement," 2017.
Variable annuities are long-term, tax-deferred investments designed for retirement, involve investment risks and may lose value. Earnings are taxable as ordinary income when distributed and may be subject to a 10% additional tax if withdrawn before age 59½.
Before investing, investors should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the variable annuity and its underlying investment options. The current contract prospectus and underlying fund prospectuses, which are contained in the same document, provide this and other important information. Please contact your representative or The Company to obtain the prospectuses. Please read the prospectuses carefully before investing or sending money.
The latest income date allowed is age 95, which is the required age to annuitize or to take a lump sum. Please see the prospectus for important information regarding the annuitization of a contract.