Before I answer that question with an obvious answer, I want to share my thoughts after traveling around the country this past year. I’ve been meeting with many seniors who, when it comes to retirement, generally feel more confident about their retirement than in recent years. Of course, this is just one anecdotal perspective, but I believe things are making a turn for the better. While savings rates for seniors are still not where they need to be, other positive developments should give seniors and boomers reasons to be optimistic. Yet I’m also reminded of a quote from my dear friend Betty White who once said “lucky broads like me don’t retire.” Following is an update on the state of retirement planning for seniors, news about my book and even a little bit more from Betty.
Seniors continue to fail to save
For several years now, I have been observing savings rates of seniors and unfortunately things aren’t getting much better. A recent study by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that only 16% of retirees strongly believe that they built a sufficient nest egg. We have outlined this in a number of white papers and reports. It remains a disturbing trend.
Rises in life expectancy have stalled
In a bit of morbidly good news, Americans’ life expectancy has remained unchanged for a third straight year, following decades in which it had steadily risen, according to government statistics published recently. A child born in the United States last year can expect to live 78.8 years on average — 81.2 years for females and 76.4 years for males — said the report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The causes of the recent plateau in life expectancy are not entirely clear, but several experts say that a sharp increase in deaths from illegal drug use, as well as suicides, could be factors. Told you it was morbid.
But Americans are optimistic
Most Americans feel optimistic about their budget, with 72% saying they will be in better financial shape next year, according to an annual survey by Fidelity Investments.
Options increase for seniors to catch up on saving
A strong economy brings with it many benefits for seniors. The latest economic forecasts for 2016 are extremely bright:
- Gross domestic product and consumer confidence are on the rise.
- Unemployment rates and mortgage rates remain low and steady.
- Home prices are expected to rise, and the overall real estate market is hot.
These developments bring opportunities for seniors, and 2016 may be the year to assess major assets for diversification options.
- Selling a home, investigating a reverse mortgage or leveraging other real estate assets could prove helpful to many seniors.
- Re-allocating stock and bond portfolios is a must. While the stock market will likely close flat for the year, some sectors like oil and gas took major hits, so allocations should be checked. Despite only slight overall movement in the past 12 months, the stock market remains near an all-time, so diversification may be a good idea.
- New options in the life insurance industry, such as retained life benefits which enable a senior to sell a portion of life insurance policy for immediate cash, have gained a foothold this year.
Readers will be hearing more on these topics in 2016
Helping seniors manage end-of-life issues, from the financial to the psychological, has been a passion of mine for the past 20 years. My book on this topic, It’s Never Too Late: Getting Older, Wiser, and Worry Free in Our Golden Years, was recently published by Morgan James. For anyone interested in learning how to keep their golden years golden, make better choices and bypass the nightmarish pitfalls seniors often face, please consider picking up a copy.
Just to mix things up, let’s look to Betty White. While the overall outlook for seniors and savings might be a bit depressing, one person continues to have a sunny outlook – mainly because she never plans to need her retirement nest egg. Talking with her, she once said “lucky broads like me don’t retire.” I remember thinking that she, once again, has the right attitude. We can all learn from Betty: Keep going, manage your life as best you can, smile and have fun.