Financial Services

Retirement reality: Many Americans will not be able to live out their dreams

Meanwhile, an appeals court’s recent decision to vacate the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule leaves many investors at risk of losing chunks of their savings to hidden fees and conflicts of interest from unscrupulous brokers — the very same people who Americans trust to help them achieve their retirement goals.

Investors, however, can take ownership of their path to retirement by anticipating the treacherous terrain and adjusting expectations.

Making assumptions about money issues is never a good approach. New research has found that 1 in 4 pre-retirees expects Social Security to be their primary source of income in retirement — including 15 percent of millennials and 29 percent of Gen Xers. This is a huge mistake.

The sad truth is that if you’re under 50, it’s not a good idea to rely heavily on Social Security for future income. If you plan as though the program will be gone, potentially reduced benefits won’t deal such a blow to your retirement.

More from Straight Talk:
Four ways retirees botch Social Security
How money can, in fact, buy happiness
Debts to watch as Fed raises rates

One way to reduce dependence on Social Security is to invest in a tax-advantaged retirement vehicle, such as an individual retirement account. If your company offers a retirement plan, such as a 401(k), make sure you’re contributing as much as you can afford each year. At a bare minimum, contribute the maximum amount allowed to take full advantage of any matching contributions offered by your employer.

There is an expectation that you can always catch up later. When it comes to planning for retirement, earlier is better — but don’t give up hope if you weren’t able to put away as much as you would’ve liked in your 20s and 30s. Sadly, 39 percent of millennials and 34 percent of Gen Xers have no retirement savings. So how can this group catch up?

Whatever age you are, the first step toward securing your financial future is to take inventory of your assets and debts so you understand what you have and what you need. This isn’t as overwhelming as it seems. There are free online tools that can provide you with your financial information, including retirement savings accounts, investment accounts, investable cash, emergency funds, debts, bills and your cash flow.


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