The Bleak Retirement Outlook

Forget the easy-living, exotic travel, and going-fishing dreams. retirement

According to a poll released by the Employee Benefit Research Institute on March 19, 2013 roughly one half of Americans polled are “not too confident” or “not confident at all” they’ll be able to have a comfortable retirement. 57% of those people polled have less than $25,000 in retirement savings!

I don’t know about you, but 25 grand doesn’t go very far these days. Currently 36% of workers say they will need to postpone retirement at 65, while in 1991 only 11% felt they would have to. 7% say they will need to work forever.

Times have definitely changed.

In the last couple of decades we’ve shifted our saving for the future mentality to spending money now, often as if there were no tomorrow. This “I want what I want now” thinking, combined with incredibly high costs to do things like own and maintain a house, pay for kids’ college, and shell out outrageous amounts on health care has resulted in the reality that we just aren’t making enough money to live “the American dream.”

Only 23 percent of workers said that they have sought out investment advice from a professional financial advisor who was paid through fees or commissions. And of these, only 27% followed it all.

Yikes! Many of us have our heads in the sand. It’s time to take a hard look at our expenses, savings, and income and get a grip. This task will involve a lot of shaking and shivering because in addition to fear being the natural reaction when our survival feels threatened, issues involving money and time also evoke fear physiology in our bodies.

My suggestion is to get together with someone safe – a family member, friend, neighbor, or financial advisor and together lay out your financial situation. That way, you see the hard cold reality and make a DOABLE plan. Keep it reasonable or, like a diet, in a moment of weakness, you’ll splurge and abandon your well-conceived plan.

Make a commitment with this financial friend to revisit your financial situation at ongoing, regular intervals, like at the first of every month or every quarter. It’s best to do it with someone who is also avoiding taking personal responsibility for a solid financial future. Then you can support each other, and offer praise for each little savings victory and for each time you resist spending impulsively. Don’t punt on checking in regularly. You’ll be much more successful, feel better about yourself, and thank yourself later.

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