Social Security was designed to supplement someone’s retirement income, but that isn’t stopping many seniors from relying on it more than intended — and that may be a setup for disaster.
According to a recent survey from the Employee Benefits Research Institute, around 59% of retirees rely on Social Security as a large chunk of their monthly income, but the program was never intended to work like that. It’s only supposed to replace 40% of the average wage earner’s pre-retirement income.
Many seniors need closer to 70% or 80% of the income they made before hanging it up to live comfortably, so cutting your income by more than half means making potentially tough financial decisions.
Benefits may face a financing crunch soon, too, as they could cut by 20% around 2035 when the Social Security program is estimated to become insolvent. Legislators are searching for ways to address the funding shortage, but the countdown to cuts is on until then.
The best way to prepare for retirement according to Maurie Backman at The Motley Fool?
Pretend Social Security doesn’t even exist.
The Benefits of Ignoring Social Security
Backman argues that if you ignore the fact that you’ll be getting a Social Security check every month, you’ll be “scared into saving.” And it makes a lot of sense, especially if you are younger, because if you focus on banking as much as possible for your nest egg you could end up not having to rely on Social Security at all. It would almost be a bonus monthly check.
Of course, saving isn’t easy, and if you are older you may not have enough time to hash out the details of a plan that would completely eliminate the need for a monthly Social Security benefit. But that doesn’t mean you can’t reevaluate your current budget and savings goals to find some areas to trim. Here’s a case in point from Backman:
Dining out a few times less each month, canceling a gym membership or subscription service you rarely use, and driving a used car instead of a newer one could easily free up $300 a month in your budget. If you were to then stash that money in a retirement savings plan like an IRA or 401(k), and invest it at an average annual 7% return over a 40-year time frame, you’d wind up with roughly $719,000 in savings.
Now, of course, you may not have 40 years until you retire, but the point still stands that taking a more aggressive approach to your savings plans can mean bigger returns down the line, and less fretting over how to make the most of every monthly Social Security check.
So take a little time to evaluate your retirement savings plan and see if maybe there’s some fat to trim in your budget. Social Security isn’t going anywhere, but wouldn’t it be nice to not have to rely on it as much?
• You can find all of the latest and most important news about Social Security here on Money and Markets.
For our friends: Anyone who wants to grow and protect their money in retirement needs to hear this. For the first time publicly, Bill O’Reilly comes clean about what happened to his money.