The Roth IRA has become an increasingly popular retirement savings vehicle. From 2010 to 2013, Roth IRA balances grew more than 51 percent, while traditional IRA balances grew 28 percent over that same period. In 2013 more than $6 billion was contributed to Roth accounts, while only $4.61 billion was contributed to traditional IRAs.1
The Roth’s popularity stems from its unique tax treatment. You contribute after-tax dollars to your Roth, and the funds grow on a tax-deferred basis. As long as you wait until age 59½ and at least five years after the account was opened to take distributions, all withdrawals are tax-free. That means you can use a Roth to create a tax-free income stream in retirement.
Unfortunately, many people are unable to take advantage of the Roth’s tax benefits. Perhaps your income exceeds the Roth’s limitations and you’re unable to contribute. Or maybe you’ve primarily used a 401(k) or traditional IRA to accumulate retirement assets.
There may be no resource more valuable in retirement than income that’s guaranteed for life. Guaranteed income provides you with a base level of certainty and predictability. It’s not impacted by market fluctuations, and there’s no risk that you’ll outlive your funds. When you have guaranteed income, you can make financial and spending decisions with confidence.
Unfortunately, guaranteed* income is becoming more and more rare for many retirees. There was a time when workers could expect to have their entire retirement funded by Social Security and employer pensions. Today’s Social Security benefits are unlikely to fund a full retirement, however, and few employers still offer a pension.
Retirement is a difficult financial challenge for most people, but it can be uniquely difficult for women. In fact, the National Institute on Retirement Security recently found that women age 65 or older are 80 percent more likely to live in poverty than men. Women age 75 to 79 are three times more likely.1
Why is retirement more difficult for women? There are a number of reasons, and many may vary based on each person’s unique situation. If you’re approaching retirement, now may be the time to identify the risks you could face. By planning ahead, you can implement a risk management strategy.
Below are three challenges that many women face in retirement, along with possible strategies to minimize risk. A financial professional can help you further develop your plan so you can enjoy a long and financially stable retirement.
Struggling with student loan debt? You’re not alone. According to statistics from the Federal Reserve, Americans owe more than $1.4 trillion in student loan debt. That’s nearly double what they owe on credit cards. More than 40 percent of Americans have student loans, and 11 percent of them are in delinquent status on those obligations.1
If you’re struggling to pay off student loans, saving for retirement may not be at the top of your priority list. After all, you may have years or even decades until retirement. You might feel urgency to pay off your student loans before you begin saving for the future.
That approach could be a mistake, however. While retirement may be years in the future, it’s important to remember that you could spend decades being retired. That means you’ll need enough savings to fund 20 or even 30 years’ worth of living expenses.
According to a recent study from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, the median retirement savings for millennials is $31,000.1 While that may be a good start, it’s well short of what many millennials will need to fund a long and enjoyable retirement.
Millennials will face a number of challenges that previous generations didn’t face. The first is longevity. Life expectancy continues to increase. The medical industry is rapidly developing new treatments, services and technologies. It’s possible that millennials will live longer than any previous generation. If so, that means they’ll have to fund more years of retirement, which means they’ll need more savings.
There’s also the fact that millennials have to shoulder much of the burden for funding their retirement. Previous generations could rely on employer pensions, but that’s a benefit that has largely disappeared. Social Security benefits could also be reduced in the future if the program’s funding issues aren’t resolved. Personal savings could likely be the primary income source for many millennials in retirement.
Risk management is at the core of any sound financial plan. But it takes on heightened importance in retirement. Once you leave the working world, you don’t have the benefit of a regular paycheck. It could be difficult to bounce back from a market downturn or a costly emergency.
Health care costs can be an especially dangerous risk for retirees. Fidelity estimates that the average married couple will spend $275,000 on out-of-pocket health care expenses.1 That figure doesn’t even include long-term care, which can cost thousands of dollars per month and may be needed for several years.
Retirement is a major financial challenge even for the most disciplined savers. While you will likely benefit from Social Security payments, you may not have any other form of guaranteed lifetime income. That means you may need to fund much of your retirement expenses with savings.
One of the biggest challenges retirees face is funding a retirement that could potentially span decades. People are living longer than ever. If you retire in your early 60s, it’s possible that your retirement could last 30 years. In fact, you may spend more time in retirement than you did saving for retirement.
Concerned that you’re behind on your retirement income planning? You’re not alone. According to a 2017 study from Gallup, more than 50 percent of Americans are worried they won’t have enough money for retirement.1 Retirement has been Americans’ most-cited financial worry every year that Gallup has conducted the study.
Even if you are behind, the good news is that you can quickly implement a plan to catch up. Make 2018 the year you review your retirement income planning and take action to stabilize your financial future.
Do you have a bucket list for retirement? If you’re not familiar, a bucket list includes all the things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.” Your list may include things like traveling the world, pursuing a new hobby or visiting friends and family.
Of course, to check every box on your bucket list, you’ll need to have a strong financial foundation as you enter retirement. That’s why you may want to create a preretirement bucket list that includes all the financial milestones you want to meet before you stop working.
The 3 Rs of a Stable Retirement
What’s the recipe for a successful and comfortable retirement? There are many ingredients, including disciplined saving, self-restraint when it comes to spending, a plan to pay for medical expenses and much more.
Three of the most important components of any successful retirement involve your mindset and how you approach the retirement planning process. Call them the “3 Rs.” If you can successfully master the 3 Rs, then you will likely have a solid financial foundation for your retirement.