CONSUELO MACK: This week on WEALTHTRACK, the new retirement pyramid that’s built to last. Retirement and Social Security guide Mary Beth Franklin takes us on a tour of plans that will last through the ages… next on Consuelo Mack WEALTHTRACK.
Hello and welcome to this edition of WEALTHTRACK, I’m Consuelo Mack. No question about it, even the “me generation” baby boomers have to face the facts. They are becoming senior citizens. And that transition is bringing another major reality shift. Increasing numbers of boomers are moving from the accumulation phase of their savings to what’s known as the distribution phase. They have to spend what they have saved, earned and possibly inherited to fund their retirement.
It’s a daunting challenge. There are an estimated 76 million baby boomers in the U.S., born between 1946 and 1964 and now ranging between 69 and 51 years of age. They represent about 25% of the U.S. population and about 68% of them are still in the work forces.
And according to a Gallup poll many of them are reluctant to retire. Nearly half of boomers still working say they don’t expect to retire until they are 66 or older. That compares to the average retirement age of 61 among current retirees. And one in ten boomers predicts they will never retire. Concerns about money play a significant role in boomer’s plans to postpone retirement.
No matter what your personal goals are this new phase requires new thinking and planning. There are few more qualified to advise us than this week’s guest, whom we are delighted to have as a WEALTHTRACK regular. She is Mary Beth Franklin, now a Contributing Editor at InvestmentNews, a leading publication for financial advisors. She is a Certified Financial Planner, an award winning personal finance journalist who has been covering retirement issues for most of her career and is a recognized expert on Social Security. Her latest book is “Maximizing Your Social Security Retirement Benefits” which is a recommendation on WEALTHTRACK’s Bookshelf.
I started the conversation with a basic question. What is the first thing we need to do as we approach retirement?
MARY BETH FRANKLIN: When people are saving for retirement they tend to use these broad rules of thumb. “Gee, I should save 10 or 15 percent of my gross income,” but when you get to the point you’re going to start tapping those investments for income, you need to know what your expenses are and what your sources of income are and how they match up. You know many of us can go through our entire lives with never creating a budget, but at least having a starting point, a plan for retirement is critical. What are your fixed costs in retirement? What are your discretionary costs? Do I have guaranteed or predictable sources of income to at least cover those fixed costs, whether it’s taxes or mortgage, food, insurance. Get those big-ticket items covered, and then the rest of your investments can have a little more flexibility because if you needed to cut back on those discretionary items you could.