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retirement income planning for couples with age gaps

Like other folks, you probably see waves of retirement advice from the papers, financial talkshows, online news sources, and other outlets. Much of that advice assumes that among couples, both spouses are approximately the same age. That often results in solutions designed to address the needs of couples entering their retirement years together.

But what about couples with sizable age differences? Their different retirement timelines are likely to present unique problems. When such is your situation, how can you plan for your retirement effectively?

If one spouse is eligible to retire 10 or more years ahead of the other, that spouse will be making choices that not only affect their own retirement. It impacts their partner's retirement, as well. Those decisions could have a dramatic impact on the younger spouse’s lifestyle now and during their own golden years.  

Not only does their age disparity affect their retirement plan, it means that life events, both those foreseen (e.g., retirement or required minimum distributions) and unforeseen (e.g., the need to help care for aging parents), will be faced at different stages in their lives.

retirement planning for women

It’s well documented that women often earn less than men in the workforce. While progress toward pay equality is a hot topic, less discussed are the factors women face when trying to plan for their ideal retirement.

Among the hurdles that are unique to women:

  • lower lifetime earnings
  • wages lost when leaving the workforce for child rearing or caregiving
  • part-time work without access to benefits, including retirement benefits
  • longer lifespans leading to longer retirements
  • longer exposure to retirement risks

These factors can definitely affect the quality of life women enjoy during their retirement. Which makes having a strong retirement plan more critical than ever.

retirement planning for divorced spouses

Divorce can be one of life’s most challenging experiences. Not only is it distressing, but it also brings financial upheaval. And depending on your age, divorce may pose yet another risk: taking what was an on-track retirement plan squarely off balance.

For people in their 50s and up, the challenges are particularly acute. There will be less time to make up for what you will have lost. You will have a shorter timespan to gather earnings, put away savings, and accumulate more wealth from portfolio investment growth. Your goals and plan for retirement will also change, since you likely counted on a financial future with your partner.    

Later-in-life breakups are a growing trend, as researchers at Bowling Green State University discovered. They found that, from 1990 to 2010, the divorce rate among couples in their 50s and beyond more than doubled. In that same period, the overall divorce rate remained relatively flat.

While it may be tempting to put finances on the back-burner, now isn’t optimal to fall back on planning ahead. Your financial security is at stake. If anything, it’s time to refocus on your financial progress and create a new plan for your personal retirement goals.

Here are some tips to help you get back into the driver’s seat of your money matters.

wealth protection strategies volatility article

In the last three years, Americans have reported they have become more accustomed to market volatility. But a lingering anxiety over this market uncertainty has led them to seek, in record numbers, strategies to protect a portion of their retirement savings.

This latest snapshot of Americans’ attitudes toward market volatility, and its effect on their retirement planning, comes from Allianz Life’s 2018 Market Perceptions Study.

Conducted this April, the online study surveyed a nationally representative sample of more than 1,000 respondents. Of this population, more than half had investable assets above $200,000.

Chief among the findings? A growing number of Americans said they are comfortable with market conditions and are ready to invest. That share of people was 35% in the 2018 study, compared to 26% in a similar Allianz study published in 2015.

retirement views by generation

Whether you are one of the estimated 75 million Baby Boomers, 66 million Gen Xers or 75 million Millennials, you have an opinion on your retirement, whether it's now or not quite here yet.

What's also important are the concerns you most worry about most and how ready you think you will be when your retirement day finally arrives. Perhaps not surprisingly, many of us differ in those retirement views by generation. And it matters because of how millions of Americans approach their financial affairs.

Spouses, parents, children, family members, friends, colleagues. These people are a few of many folks to whom Americans may turn for seeking second opinions, weighing their retirement anxieties against others' own, gauging their financial progress, and dealing with other money matters.

Luckily for all of us, companies conduct periodic research to give us insight into what drives our attitudes and behavior on planning for and living in retirement. Their studies can also show how our expectations may actually match up—or in many cases—differ from what we believe lies ahead for us. These results have the potential to enlighten us into action to better help us achieve what we each want for our own retirement.

In its just-published seventh annual Retirement Income Strategies and Expectations (RISE) survey of investors, Franklin Templeton Investments sought to understand perceptions and concerns about retirement savings strategies. The RISE survey specifically looked at how retirement concerns differ by generation.

Not only did the survey find differences between generations, it also uncovered differences between genders within the same generation.

 taxes affect retirement

It would be nice to think that, once you retire and no longer are "bringing home the bacon," worrying about paying taxes would be a thing of the past. But that is not the way Uncle Sam works. 

In fact, unanticipated taxes in retirement can disrupt an otherwise well-crafted retirement plan. Perhaps it's not surprising as to why financial professionals call this situation a "tax time bomb." For this reason, it’s important to consider the impact of taxes when preparing your retirement plan, so you can make well-informed choices ahead of time and budget for taxes as part of your retirement expenses.

What you will pay in taxes during retirement is unique to you and to the make-up of your retirement income sources. But one thing that seems to be universal can be this: how big a tax bite that retirees may face.

how to get guaranteed income pensions go away img

Once upon a time, pensions were a staple of the U.S. retirement system. But in the last 20 years there has been a seismic shift in the way employees fund their retirement. In 1998, an estimated 50% of current Fortune 500 companies still offered their salaried employees a pension, or also known as a defined benefit plan. Today that number sits at just 5%.

With this type of plan, a company makes regular contributions to their pension fund and then provides monthly payments or “partial paychecks” to retired employees throughout their retirement. In that sense, pensions give retirees a source of 'guaranteed income.'

Working tenures in previous decades generally lasted much longer than they do now in our current highly-mobile, job-hopping workplace. You could be with the same employer for 20 or more years, with your defined-benefit pension accruing value over your career. Pensions were often a main motivation for people to stay with the same employer. After investing your work life with that company, you were financially rewarded in retirement.

At retirement, the pension would give the financial comfort of knowing where your money was coming from, month to month, from guaranteed monthly paychecks coming in the mail. For years, the U.S. retirement system was built on this foundation. Then, bit by bit, employer pension circumstances gradually began to change.

Company pensions started to dwindle in number, and while today's continuing shrinkage in pension plans can be attributed to many factors, one well-respected economist points out the effects of recent economic events.

7 ways retirement plans go bust pt 2

Editor's Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part series on different ways that a retirement plan can go bust. You can find Part 1 of this two-part series here.

In many ways, retirement is like a puzzle. It’s a matter of fitting different pieces together. You probably know what you want your retirement lifestyle to be. The next step is making that vision real. You put together a financial plan to make things happen.

But just planning for retirement isn’t a guaranteed formula for success. We also have to stick to the plan and, at times, revisit it to see if any adjustments should be made. After all, life throws curveballs and life situations change.

Even so, there are many situations that can throw a retirement plan off balance. Those variables can vary, from suddenly finding oneself as a surviving spouse to having personal health decline or taking on the responsibility of caregiver for parents.

While it isn’t a complete solution, understanding some situations that might put a financial plan on the rocks is a good starting point.

7 ways retirement plans go bust

Editor's Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series on different ways that a retirement plan can go bust. Stay tuned for the second part of our series in the coming days.

Some investors face disadvantages in retirement due to a lack of planning. Lackluster savings, minimal guards against risks, no real strategies for high-cost healthcare or long-term care… These are just a few of myriad ways in how someone may be ill-prepared.  

But there is also the other side to consider. How about when someone does have an effective plan set? Then it's different.

Say that you have created what you feel is a rock-solid retirement plan. When you finally enter this phase of life, chances are you are quite confident about your financial future. Still, planning isn't a sure guarantee of success. Oftentimes, the question of whether someone sticks to their plan is just as important.

What you may not realize is there are several factors that could actually take a retirement plan off course. Those factors may range from being an overly generous parent or grandparent to losing your spouse and needing to adjust your lifestyle to a reduced income.

While it may not be rocket science or a magic formula, knowing these common plan-derailing pitfalls might help you avoid them.

 gen xers money concerns

Generation Xers, you have probably heard yourselves referred to you as the "Sandwich Generation." For those of you on the upper end of Gen X’s age range (35 to 55) this means that, not only are you likely to be responsible for caring for your long-living parents. You will also likely provide some financial support to your children. For many Gen X parents, that may be helping with college tuition. 

And there you are in the middle, needing to build a retirement nest egg and prepare for your own future needs, like the possibility of long-term care. What's more, you have to account for all the other routine expenses facing retirees.

You may not be feeling like the middle of a sandwich as much as you are feeling like the middle of a famous chocolate sandwich cookie. The two rigid outside edges (financial support for both parents and kids) may seem like they are squishing you—and your financial future—in the middle.

In a recent survey, the Insured Retirement Institute found three key money risks that worry Gen Xers. Below are those money concerns, as well as some ideas to help you preserve your financial strength and maybe even “Double Stuf” your retirement resources in the face of them. But first you need to start the conversation.

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