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Baby Boomers and the ‘7 Deadly Sins’ of Retirement Planning

Baby Boomers and the ‘7 Deadly Sins’ of Retirement Planning

Baby boomers may be portrayed as a fortunate lot but as more of the generation enters retirement age, a scary fact is slowly revealing itself: Most boomers are not properly prepared for retirement, according to a new study.

The Insured Retirement Institute recently interviewed 804 people between the ages of 56 and 72 for the “Boomers Expectations for Retirement” annual study asking individuals, either in retirement or approaching it, how much they have saved for their golden years. Hardly one in 10 said they felt like they have enough to get by.

The study’s numbers show that only about 11% polled have at least $500,000 saved up. Most don’t even have that, and more half said they have nothing saved for retirement at all.

So what can you do to avoid this same fate? Here are the “seven deadly sins” the survey reveals that suggests avoiding as you plan for retirement, per MarketWatch:

1. Not saving enough — or anything.

Yes, it’s the most obvious but it’s worth repeating. According to the IRI survey, an astonishing 23% of baby boomers have no retirement savings … and never did.

2. Draining your retirement savings.

Another 17% did save for their retirement once … but then spent the money, either in desperation, or carelessness, or maybe both.

3. Not calculating a retirement savings goal.

It’s a lot harder to save enough for retirement if you haven’t first at least tried to work out how much that’s supposed to be. Astonishingly, just 25% of boomers who do not have a financial adviser have tried to run the numbers. And even 25% of those who do have a financial adviser still haven’t set a target. Um … what?

4. Underestimating health costs.

Here’s a sobering item: A 2018 analysis estimated that a healthy couple in their mid-60s may need to budget between a third and half a million dollars for their health care expenses, including supplementary insurance, co-pays and other out of pocket expenses. Yet most near-retirees don’t have a clue. According to the IRI survey, more than half of boomers think their health care costs will come to less than 20% of their retirement income, and more than one in four think they will come to less than 10%.

5. Ignoring long-term care costs.

Yet nearly 70% of those in their mid-60s are going to need some kind of long-term care, and the average cost a year is $89,000 a year. Who’s going to pay? “Medicare,” say 46% of baby boomers surveyed. Yes, really. Uh… folks: Medicare doesn’t pay for long-term care. Not a nickel.

6. Mishandling your retirement date.

On the one hand, some people have been forced to postpone retirement because they couldn’t afford it. Some 29% of those aged 62 to 66 have postponed their retirement, and a remarkable 33% of those aged 67 to 72. On the other hand, others overestimate how long they’ll be able to keep working. Some 31% of boomers predict they’ll work past 70 … but studies have found fewer than 10% actually do.

7. Not setting affairs in order.

Possibly the most astonishing revelation in the survey is buried in the footnotes: About two-thirds of boomers have taken no steps to protect themselves if they suffer diminished capacity or dementia. They haven’t spelled out their wishes for their care and end of life. They haven’t sorted out a power of attorney for when one is needed. And as anyone who has been through this process can tell you, the chances are pretty high that if you wait to do this stuff until it’s needed, it’s going to be too late.