Tag Archives: The Employee Benefit Research Institute

Apr 1: Best from the blogosphere

A look at the best of the Internet, from an SPP point of view

South of the border, saving hard, education pricey – retirement challenging

In the US, more and more people are having to dip into retirement savings to pay for their kids’ education, leaving them less to live on.

According to a recent article in Yahoo! Finance, things are so bad, people have stopped bothering to worry about it. “Reports of Americans being unprepared for retirement have become so widespread that it no longer seems to elicit any emotional response,” the article notes.

“The Employee Benefit Research Institute found that 40.6 per cent of all U.S. households (where the head of the household is between ages 35 and 64) are projected to run out of money in retirement,” the article notes. “Moreover, the average Social Security benefit provides an income equivalent to the poverty level for a family of four.”

The impact of paying for an education for the kids, “Number 1 goal” for most Americans, has impacted their ability to save. Education costs have left retirement nest eggs “less than robust,” the article notes.

The article says this savings shortfall is not due to a “failure to behave responsibly,” but instead to “a function of conscious decisions made in the past.”

A future as shown in “glossy financial brochures with couples in their mid-50s riding a sailboat” is “an unrealistic expectation for many households,” the article states. People are failing to consider that we are all living longer, and that we may be retired for as long as we were working, notes Yahoo! Finance.

And even if you do have savings, they will diminish as you take money out to live in retirement, the article points out. “To put this into perspective, if you take out 5 per cent from a diversified portfolio each year, you stand a 58 per cent chance of running out of money within 30 years of retirement,” the article explains.

Timing does matter, the authors note. “Anyone taking withdrawals during the 2008 housing crisis would have a dramatically different outcome than investors who retired in 2009 and lived off market returns in the beginning of retirement. Volatility matters,” they tell us.

The authors suggest that a person would need $2 million in savings to generate $100,000 in annual income.

But there is an up side to this daunting article. It notes that money isn’t everything in retirement. “The key to achieving an active, satisfying and happy retirement involves more than having adequate savings. It also entails interesting leisure activities, creative pursuits and mental and physical well-being,” the article concludes. In a way, the best things in life may not cost that much.

Viewpoints like this reinforce the need to make time for retirement savings. A good approach, especially for those who are decades away from the “golden years,” is to start small with savings and gradually ramp up as your income increases. If you don’t have a pension plan at work, or do and want to augment it, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan is worth a look. It features low-cost professional investing, and uniquely is equipped to turn those savings into a lifetime income stream down the road. Check them out at www.saskpension.com.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22