When thinking of the word “retirement,” what comes to mind? For many, it may be kicking their feet up on a lounge chair, playing with the grandchildren, or jet setting on their next great adventure. But for others, the word simply sparks anxiety. After all, no two retirement experiences are the same; so planning for the unknown may seem somewhat impossible. And when it comes to planning for retirement, there is no shortage of conventional wisdom – but some of it is just dead wrong. So, how can you truly plan and prepare for the retirement years of your dreams? Perhaps the best place to start is by busting some of the top retirement myths. By separating fact from fiction, you can feel more confident in your ability to plan for your golden years. We’re setting the record straight on these 6 commonly spread retirement myths.
MYTH #1: You’ll spend less in retirement
While outdated rules-of-thumb suggest that retirees may only need 70-80% of their pre-retirement income to fund their golden years, this simply isn’t the case anymore. With more time on your hands for the things you love, its only natural for spending to accumulate – especially if you plan on travelling, visiting family members, or pursuing new hobbies and activities.
Retirement typically eliminates expenses like commuting to work, and having children move out of the house, but overall expenditures may be on the rise. For example, healthcare costs tend to increase with age. And with inflation on the rise, it’s only natural to see your purchasing power erode over time. The best way to keep ahead of the spending curve is to create a projected retirement budget and adjust it as your plans and/or needs change.
MYTH #2: Retirement Starts at Age 65
While the magic age of 65 has been thought to be synonymous with retirement, the reality is this – you are free to choose to retire (or not) at any age. The 65 myth stems from when traditional pensions and Social Security used to pay full benefits at age 65. However, with pensions going extinct and Social Security benefits hardly being enough to be a decision breaker in your retirement plans, times have changed. So, when does retirement begin? Simply stated, retirement begins when you’re ready and can afford it – there is no specific age tied to it. The earlier you begin planning for your retirement and start building up a nest egg, the earlier you will be equipped to jump into those long awaited and desired “golden years.”
MYTH #3: Medicare will cover all healthcare expenses
When it comes to Medicare services, there is good news and bad news. Let’s start with the good news. Medicare is a valuable program designed to provide retirees with affordable health insurance coverage for doctor visits, medications, and hospitalization. Once you’ve celebrated your 65th birthday, you become eligible for this government-funded benefit. So, what’s the bad news? Simply stated, even Medicare has its limits – and it was not designed to cover every healthcare expense you’ll face in retirement. Services such as chiropractic care, dental work, vision assessments, and long-term care are not covered by Medicare – which could lead to extra out-of-pocket costs for retirees adjusting to limited or fixed incomes. What’s more, with Medicare, you will still incur co-pays and deductibles, which ultimately means that your healthcare expenses could be just as present after retirement as they were in your younger years.
Regardless of your Medicare coverage, you’ll want to plan ahead for how to funds all these healthcare expenses in retirement. Fortunately, Medicare has supplementary insurance options you can add on to your plan. Learn more about planning for healthcare expenses in retirement, here.
MYTH #4: Social Security will cover retirement spending
Now that you’ve reached retirement years, you’ve likely got some plans. Whether it be to travel the world, visit family members, or turn your hobby into a business, retirement is the time to pursue your dreams. But regardless of your plans, you’re going to need a way to fund them. And relying solely on Social Security benefits is not going to cut it. When it comes to Social Security, there is a big gap between what retirees think they’re going to receive versus what they can actually receive. Currently, retirees receive an average monthly benefit of $1,539 from Social Security1 – which only amounts to approximately $18,500 per year. Yet, despite this benefit being quite low, a recent poll found that nearly 1 in 5 Americans don’t expect to have any source of retirement income beyond Social Security2 – yikes!
The reality is that Social Security benefits were never intended to be a retiree’s primary source of retirement income. Instead, these benefits should supplement pensions, 401(k) funds, investments, and other retirement savings. Remember, Social Security payment amounts can be higher or lower based on when you begin claiming them. According to the Social Security Administration, retirees can receive 100% of designated monthly benefits if they opt to wait until the full retirement age of 66. However, waiting until your 67th birthday means you can receive 108% of the monthly benefits since you delayed them 12 months. And if you’re able to wait until the maximum age of 70 to start receiving benefits, you can collect 132% of monthly benefits for delaying them by 48 months.
MYTH #5: Retirement means not working
While retirement was once thought to be a transition from working like crazy to kicking back and focusing strictly on leisure, more and more retirees are deviating from this path. After a successful career in the workforce, many retirees are approaching retirement years as their ‘second act’ and opting for either a phased retirement, second career, or part-time gig as an alternative to full-time leisure. As life expectancy rates continue to climb, many retirees are realizing that spending 30+ years of their lives strictly on leisure isn’t necessarily fulfilling. What’s more, with this increased longevity, many are realizing that they may need to generate some additional income to avoid outliving their retirement nest eggs.
Fortunately, “work” doesn’t have to mean diving back into a full-time or potentially unsatisfying career. Retirement is an ideal time to match your passions and skillsets to a cause or part-time job that is both fulfilling to you and generates some additional income. For instance, if you are a history or nature enthusiast, you may be inclined to pick up a part-time job as a tour guide at a museum, natural park, or historical site in your area. If you’re a retired teacher, you may use your second act as a chance to work with local families or start your own tutoring business. If you enjoy crafting, you may opt for a job at an arts and crafts store, or position to teach painting, pottery, or even sewing classes. The opportunities here are endless!
MYTH #6: Retirement is all about money
When it comes to retirement, money is an important and essential element to ensuring you can support your lifestyle post-workforce. However, having the most money saved is not the ultimate goal. With more time on your hands, retirement is a time for creating a more fulfilling, satisfying, and happy life. And there are no rules to dictate how you choose to do so. After all, they call these the “golden years” for a reason. Regardless of what your retirement vision looks like, you’ll want to spend as much time planning your lifestyle as you do planning your finances. Putting these two factors together is a recipe for a truly successful retirement.
And there you have it – six of the most commonly spread retirement myths. When it comes to preparing for retirement, some of the facts you may have believed could not be true at all. With this in mind, its essential to approach retirement with a strong support system to guide you through it. And if you could use some help navigating your retirement finances, look no further than the professionals at Longbridge Financial.
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