Have you answered the 4 toughest financial questions?

Cloud-Question-MarkAccording to a recent survey, 36 percent of Americans say that they don’t contribute anything at all to retirement savings.

At some point in our future we will all be faced with where our money will come from when we can no longer work or we choose to stop working. Retirees today have to prepare for 30 years or more of retirement and most workers haven’t ever tried to estimate their retirement savings or income needs.

As inflation continues to erode the value of our dollars, it will cost us more and more to purchase the items we want and need to enjoy the retirement we have all dreamed of and hoped for. However, with the dismal returns today’s exceedingly low interest rates provide on what little money we do have in our respective savings vehicles, it is more important than ever to at least have some idea of what we should be saving to make retirement a possibility.

The 4 toughest financial questions that everybody faces are:

  1. What rate of return do you have to earn on your savings and investment dollars to be able to retire at your current standard of living and have your money last through your life expectancy?
  2. How much money do you need to save on a monthly or annual basis to be able to retire at your current standard of living and have your money last through your life expectancy?
  3. Doing what you are currently doing, how long will you have to work to be able to retire and live your current lifestyle through your life expectancy?
  4. If you don’t do anything different than you are doing today, how much will you have to reduce your standard of living at retirement for your money to last through your life expectancy?

If you’d like to know the answers to these financial questions for your specific situation contact us today at (619)994-1110.

Consider the following:

According to the Social Security Administration, the maximum retirement benefit paid by Social Security to an individual retiring in 2014 at the full retirement age of 66 is $2,642 per month.

There are three very important things to understand, though.

  1. Approximately 3 out of 4 (75%) Americans start claiming Social Security benefits the moment they are eligible at age 62 (source: The Washington Post). That will reduce the Social Security benefit to 75% of the maximum benefit, or $1,982.
  2. Social Security estimates that the average worker’s Social Security benefit will replace about 40% of their pre-retirement income so it is vitally important to have pensions, savings, and investments.
  3. 35% of Americans over the age of 65 rely almost entirely on Social Security payments (source: AlterNet).

Most successful retirees have the majority of their assets in their home equity and IRAs/401(k)s. As they start withdrawing funds from their IRAs/401(k)s they are hit with a significant annual tax bill. Whether you have your mortgage paid off when you retire or not won’t likely be relevant because real estate acts as an inflation hedge. What I mean is that as rents and the cost of everyday necessities continue to rise, due to inflation, your mortgage payment, not including property taxes and homeowners insurance, will stay the same over the time you own your home, provided you have a fixed interest rate mortgage.

Additionally, in the final 10 or so years of a mortgage the interest represents the smallest portion of your monthly payment so you won’t likely be itemizing your deductions anyway. When you could use the mortgage interest deduction the most you no longer have it. The kids have moved out and deductible contributions to your IRAs/401(k)s have stopped. You’ll likely have only your personal exemptions and the standard deduction as write-offs on your taxes. You’ll have to take significantly larger withdrawals from your IRAs/401(k)s than you otherwise would just to pay the income taxes because no longer are there any taxes being withheld from your paychecks throughout the year, not to mention that the very withdrawals you’ll have to take from your IRAs/401(k)s will cause up to 85% of your Social Security benefits to taxable.

According to a survey done by Lincoln Financial Group, 36% of retirees find they significantly underestimated the cost of taxes in retirement, and 23% never factored in the burden of taxes at all! For many people, as they step in to what is meant to be a time of rest and reward, Uncle Sam claims as much as 30% of their retirement fund.

If you’d like to know the answers to these financial questions for your specific situation contact us today at (619)994-1110.