How to Stretch Your Retirement Savings
We've all heard the term nest egg in reference to our retirement savings. But what does it actually mean for your personal situation? Will you deplete it, or will you nurture it to generate income that lasts throughout your retirement?
The conventional wisdom is that retirement investors need to focus on accumulating money—the proverbial nest egg—to spend later on. The challenge with this is that it misses what we really need: an income stream that can provide you with the life you imagine in retirement.
The traditional way of thinking about a nest egg may explain why most Americans are overly optimistic about whether their retirement savings will last. Our 2015 Global Investor Pulse survey has found that they may be in for a surprise: When it comes to retirement income, they're likely to see a shortfall.Emerging Cracks in Retirement
Why is focusing on an income stream so critical? The biggest reason is an emerging challenge: our increasingly longer lives. A 65-year-old man today can expect to live to age 84, and a 65-year-old woman could live to 86, according to the Social Security Administration. My colleague Russ Koesterich calls this a champagne problem. The extra years are a blessing, but from a planning perspective, your money will need to stretch longer than ever before.
If you're wondering if you'll have enough retirement income, you're not alone. We asked more than 4,000 Americans their thoughts on retirement. Although 74 percent said they expect to be financially secure, and 56 percent are confident they'll have the income they will need, the data tell a different story. There's a large gap between where they stand to be and where they hope to be.What Investors Expect in RetirementThe Survey Numbers
Those surveyed said they expect to need, on average, $45,500 annually in retirement. This same group of people has currently saved about $136,200. But for a 55-year-old, that amount will generate only $9,067 per year in retirement. That's a shortfall of over $36,000 per year.
And even though nearly two-thirds of them agree a 401(k) is a good way to save, almost as many (60 percent) also see Social Security as a critical means of support. But Social Security benefits might not fill that gap. The average monthly benefit was just $1,335, or about $16,000 a year, as of June 2015.Closing the Savings-to-Income Gap
So how do you close the gap? Take a close, hard look at your retirement savings. Then ask yourself if what you've saved will last. Here are four guidelines to help you do just that:Know Your Numbers
Before you can figure out where to go and how to get there, you need to know where you are now. We have several tools and strategies that can help you estimate your retirement income based on your current savings, calculate future expenses, and make the most of your retirement income.Save Some More
If you are not already maxing out your work 401(k), try to set aside more, especially if your employer matches part of your contributions. If you don't have the option of a 401(k) or have reached your annual contribution limit, then invest as much as you can in an IRA. If you're 50 or older, you can take advantage of catch-up contributions.Stay Invested
Our minds are often set to save when they should be set to invest. As a result, too many Americans, 65 percent our survey found, keep their money in cash-based accounts, which are earning next to nothing. With the potential of living longer, you should consider keeping some of your retirement investments in growth mode.Try an Encore Performance
Retirement doesn't mean the end of productivity. Consider part-time work, a new business, or an encore career where you can continue to benefit society and potentially leave a legacy. And by delaying your Social Security claims beyond age 62, you can receive more in that monthly check.
There's no question that yesterday's retirement is quite unlike the retirement of tomorrow. Longer life is truly a blessing. If you want your nest egg to last you through the years, keep focus on a sustainable income stream.
Heather Pelant is Head of BlackRock Personal Investing for BlackRock. She is a regular contributor to The Blog.
More from BlackRock:
3 Steps for Better Retirement Saving and Investing Habits
How to Decode Your Future Retirement Income
How to Go From Saving to Investing
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