On a Holiday Spending Spree? Younger Generations Aren’t Saving Enough for Retirement, But You Can Turn Things Around

Maybe December isn’t the time when most of us are balancing our budgets. And carefully making sure we’re putting enough money aside for retirement. But, the new year is fast approaching, and once those New Year’s resolutions hit, a lot of people will (maybe reluctantly) turn their attention back to their finances. But not everyone will do that – and not everyone who does do it will like what they see. 

 

According to recent studies, Millennials and Gen Zers – the youngest workers among us – aren’t saving enough for retirement, and many don’t even see the point of trying. Are you in either of these boats, or are you seeing a loved one go through it? It can seem scary, but it’s never too late to turn things around!woman in a santa hat holding a piggy bank with article title next to her

The Savings Gap

According to a report released this past summer by Vanguard, an investment firm that represents more than 30 million investors. The younger generation of workers simply aren’t keeping up when it comes to saving for retirement. The report reveals that Millennial and Gen Z employees under 35 currently have an average of $37,211 and $6,264, respectively, saved in their 401(k) retirement plans. On the other hand, workers just 10 years older have an average of over $97,000. And workers 45-54 have an average of almost $180,000.

 

And things look even worse when we look at the median amount saved, as opposed to the average amount. Which most experts say is a better representation of how much most people have saved in their 401(k) accounts. When we look at the median amounts saved, those 25-34 have less than $15,000. While those 35-44 and 45-54 have over $36,000 and $61,000, respectively. And workers under 25? They have only saved a media amount of less than $2,000.

 

Comparing people who’ve been saving for longer than younger workers might seem a little unfair. But the rate of savings is also not on target for many younger workers. The average total savings rate for workers ages 25 to 34 is just 10.5% and 8% for workers under 25. And according to John James, managing director of Vanguard’s institutional investor group. “We believe participants need to reach a total saving rate of 12% to 15%.”

 

There are multiple reasons why younger workers aren’t saving as much as older workers. And some of how much people are saving comes down to income, age, and how long they have been working. But with the state of the country, it’s no wonder that the younger generation of workers is finding it difficult to stay on track. 

What’s the Point? illustration of a man shrugging with a blue background

Saving for retirement has become a much bigger source of stress for workers entering the workforce now. In previous generations, workers could rely on both private savings and a pension given by their job. According to Thasunda Brown Duckett, CEO of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA), “Compared with their parents and grandparents, younger generations have fewer options to save for retirement.” 

 

And not only do younger workers not have as many options, they are also putting too much faith in the retirement plans that they do have. According to a recent TIAA study, half of Millennials and Gen Zers still expect all of their retirement income from a 401(k) or 403(b) plan. But according to Duckett, these sort of employer-based retirement plans won’t be enough to get them through their golden years. 

 

It’s no wonder, then, that things can feel kind of hopeless for younger workers when it comes to saving enough for a future that’s far down the road. In fact, according to the 2022 State of Retirement Planning report released by Fidelity Investments, almost half the adults between the ages of 18 to 35 (45%) surveyed “don’t see a point in saving until things return to normal.”. Plus, over half (55%) of the same age group had “put retirement planning on hold” during the pandemic.

 

This age group also graduated college into a Great Recession, was saddled with debt, and catapulted into a terrible housing market. Many haven’t bought houses, and have decided to use their money to enhance their present lifestyles  – and no judgment! But the future is always on the horizon. And if you (or a loved one) haven’t been saving enough for retirement – and have possibly given up on ever being able to save the way you should – there are things you can do to get back on track. Remember, it’s never too late, especially when you’re young!

Tips for Turning Things Around

If you’re looking to get things back on track, Nilay Gandhi, senior wealth advisor at Vanguard. Has laid out three important strategies:

1. Keep your eye on the prize

It might sound counterintuitive, but Gandhi advises not focusing too much on your current retirement savings account balance if it’s one that’s tied to the market. According to Gandhi, “While it may be tempting to focus on your account balance, account balances are heavily influenced by market performance. If you focus too much on your account balance, you may be tempted to react to short-term volatility at the expense of your long-term financial goals.” They suggest focusing more on what you can control, like your current savings rates, investment choices, expenses, and long-term goals. illustration of a man in a business suit leaning on a box with money piled in it

2. Don’t stress about your savings rate

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of a 12-15% savings rate, which experts recommend, don’t let that stress make you throw up your hands and stop contributing what you can contribute. Start with whatever you can afford, and then make a plan to get where you need to be. According to Gandhi, it’s just important to “be sure to save at least enough to get your employer’s full match.”. From there, “increase your savings rate by 1% to 2% each year until you achieve the target savings rate of 12% to 15%.”

3. Diversify 

There are other options in addition to your employer’s 401(k). You can also open a Roth IRA, which is another type of tax-advantaged retirement account. How are these accounts different from a 401(k)? One of the main differences is how they are taxed. With a 401(k), contributions are deducted from your paycheck and deposited before your income is taxed. When you withdraw the money in retirement, those withdrawals are taxed at your current tax rate.

 

With a Roth IRA, you’re investing money that has already been taxed. While you can’t deduct those contributions from current taxable income, withdrawals made after you turn 59½ aren’t taxed.

 

You can contribute up to $6,000 a year into a Roth IRA. So if you’ve got some extra money from a side hustle. Or are just looking to have a few more options, try putting some money into one of these accounts.

 

It can feel like a pretty harsh reality to stare retirement in the face when you’re still young. But consider this number crunching: a 25-year-old making $15 an hour putting away 2.8% of their salary at $16.90 per week might only accumulate $310,000 in 40 years. Now, you might be making more than that, and saving more, but it still might feel stressful to think about how much you’ll really need to save for your retirement. 

 

But don’t stress! Knowing what you’ve got to do is half the battle, and you have the time to get back on track. Once the holiday spending sprees are over, that is…

Co-written by Joanna Bowling

Negative Feelings About Retirement? How to Deal with Those Unexpected Emotions

Retirement. For some, it’s something they’ve been looking forward to for half of their working lives; for others, it’s a necessary evil that they learn to live with. However you felt about retirement before taking the plunge (or being pushed off the edge), you might find that your feelings change as you start to settle into your new lifestyle – you might even find that some unexpected emotions begin to crop up. This is totally normal; after all, retirement is a huge life change! Know that you are not alone in dealing with these issues, and know also that you can find ways to deal with them, and get on the road to a more fulfilling retirement. 

A New Youolder caucasian man with a green sign behind him that says "what's next"

When you were younger, you may have had an idealized view of retirement, or thought of it in a more 20th century way: it’s just something that you do when you hit a certain age. The truth is, retirement is complicated. There are multiple reasons why we do it, both positive and negative – and researchers have found that it’s usually a combination of both. Dissatisfaction with work could be mixed with a desire to spend more time with loved ones, or doing the things that you truly enjoy. You could be forced into retirement because of health issues, or a restructuring of your company. 

Whatever brought you to this point in your life, though, you have to recognize that, in some ways, you may feel like your identity is shifting when you’re no longer working at a long-held job. Sometimes changing our perspective and feeling like a new version of ourselves is liberating and positive, but sometimes, as for many retirees, it can lead to a confusing tangle of emotions. Some people may even experience a delayed reaction: Elizabeth Mokyr Horner, PhD, of the University of California, Berkeley, found that some retirees experience a “sugar rush” of well-being and life satisfaction directly after retirement, followed by a sharp decline in happiness afterwards. 

What this all means is that you have to look after your psychological well-being just as you would your financial well-being in retirement. You can start by examining the unexpected negative feelings you may be experiencing, and trying to find some creative ways to combat them. 

black and white picture of an older caucasian woman with her face in her hands
Some people will experience a sense of loss as to who they are once they leave their job.

A Sense of Loss

  • What you might be experiencing: As we touched on above, people often link their job with who they are, so you may experience a sense of loss – or even grieving – when you retire. In fact, according to Deana Arnett, senior planning consultant at Rosenthal Wealth Management Group, people “get their identities wrapped up in what they do for a living, and once that’s gone, if there’s not something else there to fill the space, that’s when the depression and dissatisfaction kicks in.” Retirement can also mean the loss of the daily interactions and challenges that were part of your life everyday for many years, and losing those can add to the sadness you feel. 
  • What you can do: The key here is finding and accepting support. This could come from family and friends, a church or religious organization, a therapist, or a support group. Connecting with new people or places can go a long way, especially when combined with reconnecting in meaningful ways to the people and places you already love. You can also try getting creative and writing or journaling about your feelings of loss, or making a memory book. 

Guilt

  • What you may be experiencing: This one may not have been on your radar, but many retirees actually end up feeling guilty in many ways after they retire. “It seems to be a mix of guilt over good fortune (being able to retire comfortably), shirking duties (no longer having to work or be productive), spending money that may be needed for the future (not adequately appreciating money available), and having access to benefits (like Social Security and pensions),” according to Steven M. Albert, PhD, a professor in the department of behavioral and community health sciences and chairman for research and science at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. “It may also involve a kind of survivor guilt – making it to this point intact and with resources, unlike others less fortunate.” You might also feel guilty if you aren’t somehow “making the most of” every second your work-free day.

    illustration of older couple holding shopping bags
    It’s okay to splurge a little without feeling guilty, you just have to budget wisely!
  • What you can do: First of all, give yourself a little grace. You don’t have to spend every second engaged in some sort of meaningful pursuit, or chasing adventure. It’s ok to spend some days binge watching and not bungee jumping! 

Next, if you feel guilty every time you splurge on takeout with your spouse or friends, be proactive. Talk to a financial planner and do an honest, thorough assessment of your finances. Figure out where you can cut or move funds around. Invest wisely. And, if you’re feeling unproductive and uncomfortable about money, there’s no rule saying you can’t look for a part-time job to fill some of your time. 

Finally, if your good fortune suddenly seems like a burden, get out into the community and volunteer! We’ll look at this option a little more closely below. 

Remorse

  • What you might be experiencing: Are you wondering “did I do the right thing?” Buyer’s remorse can be real when you retire, especially if you ended up retiring before you thought you would. Or maybe your remorse is more about what could have been: maybe you feel like you missed an opportunity for career advancement somewhere along the way, or that you didn’t set your financial goals high enough. 
  • What you can do: If it’s buyer’s remorse you’re suffering from, you might simply need a change of perspective. Yes, you gave up working – but did you get something back in return? For example, maybe you have an elderly parent who will no longer be around in 5 years, or grandchildren that are at an age when hanging out with grandma is still the best thing ever. That certainly won’t last! There are pros and cons to everything, and retirement is no different – so try to focus on the pros.

 

On the other hand, if you’re spending your time going over and over in your head what might have been, or what you might have done wrong, then it’s time to move forward. If you feel like you have unfinished business with someone from your working life, try to work it out with them. If you wished you had somehow “done more,” try signing up for classes and furthering your education, or again, look into part-time work. Life doesn’t end at retirement! 

Dissatisfaction

  • What you might be experiencing: Many of us have an idealized view of retirement, but you may end up having your bubble burst. You may simply feel dissatisfied with your retirement: According to Candy Spitz, LCSW, a board-certified life coach at Unlimited Paths based in Church Falls, Virginia, “Sometimes people think, ‘This isn’t what I thought it would be’.” 
  • What you can do: First of all, don’t think about retiring from something, think about retiring to something – a new life, with a new perspective, and new opportunities. If you take away a big part of your life – your career – you need to fill that space. As mentioned above, further education or part-time jobs are great ways to embark on something new. 

older caucasian adults volunteering picking up trash with picks.Another excellent option is to volunteer, which was also one of our ideas for combatting feelings of guilt at your lack of productivity, or at your good fortune. A recent study in the Journal of Aging and Health led by Eva Kahana, PhD, of Case Western Reserve University, found that people living in retirement communities reported higher levels of life satisfaction and fewer depressive symptoms if they were involved in volunteering. 

Not only can volunteering boost your mental state, but it can also increase your physical health. Researchers have found that older adults who volunteer 200 hours over the course of a year are less likely to develop hypertension than non-volunteers. According to psychologist Sheldon Cohen, PhD, “Volunteering may increase feelings of purpose and meaning in life, and commuting to volunteer sites and activities may also increase physical activity, therefore decreasing hypertension risk. All of these have the potential of improving cardiovascular health.” So if you’re feeling bored, cooped up, and lacking in purpose, volunteerism might be just what you need to get your heart pumping.

The bottom line is, whatever you’re feeling now that you’re retired, it’s normal, and it’s ok. Your life has changed drastically, and you’ll need an adjustment period. Take time to grieve if you need to, find a good support network, and look for what makes life meaningful to you, whether that’s giving back to your community, finding a second chance career, or returning to old passions and hobbies. Your fulfillment will look different from someone else’s, and no one can tell you how to be happy. If you want to binge watch, go ahead! You’ve earned some downtime. And if you want to go bungee jumping, more power to you – just be safe out there! 

Gray Divorce Is On The Rise!

In a marriage the D word is not an easy pill to swallow. Divorce is normal at any age, but recently the divorce rate among couples in long-term marriages is increasing. While the average American divorce rate has declined over the past 20 years, it seems that it is quite the opposite for people over 50. In less than 30 years, divorce rates of couples over this age have doubled. This is known as gray divorce. It is also referred to as “silver” or “diamond splitters”, referring to the hair of older adults. Divorce is difficult, but sometimes inevitable. There are different factors that contribute to gray divorce, and some legal issues to be aware of in the process.

Scissors cutting through a piece of paper that says marriage of certificate and an orange rose on top of the paper.
Gray divorce happens for many different reasons. Growing apart is the most common reason.

 

Reasons For Divorce

  1. Growing Apart– A lot of times, adults will stay together for the sake of their children. After the youngest goesto college, the focus on children is gone. Suddenly, you are alone with your spouse and begin to realize you no longer know them. The same goes for when both individuals retire. Once you are no longer focused on work or your career, some people realize they don’t know their spouse anymore when alone with them.
  2. Money Issues– Once income stops coming, and couples are forced to live on a fixed income, issues arise. Differences in spending habits cause issues, and can lead to a spouse wanting a divorce.
  3. Sex Sex changes as you get older. Some people want it less, while some may want it more. Frustration in this department can lead to a divorce.
  4. Infidelity– Cheating is a sure way to lead to a divorce. Older men may find themselves attracted to younger women, and older women the same with younger men. Or your partner may find similarities with another person and feel more connected to them. There may be many reasons for infidelity, but following through with it is what leads to divorce.
  5. Different Hobbies– One person in the marriage may want to travel more, while the other is perfectly happy with being a home-body. Differences in hobbies can lead to losing interest in your partner, making the desire to leave the marriage stronger.
  6. Life Expectancy Rates– Life expectancy rates are much higher these days. Older married people will most likely live to be another 20-40 years. Instead of being in an unhappy marriage, some call it quits so they can find their happiness.
  7. Marital Past– A recent study found that those who have been divorced before, are more likely to divorce again. The rate of divorce for those who are in remarriages is 2.5 times higher than for those in first marriages
  8. Want Better/More For Themselves– Some people just want something different. They want to make changes in their appearance, and how they live their life. When this happens, usually someone else comes into the picture with similar interests. The spouse also might not be willing to change, causing a drift.

Legalities You Should Prepare For

Two hundred dollar bills next to an open checkbook with a pen on it.
When going through a divorce later in life, it is important to go over the legalities of splitting assets and money.

When getting a divorce, it not only costs money for lawyers, to get it all finalized, but there are also other things to consider.

  • Retirement– When you retire, you may need to divide your retirement funds with your spouse.
  • Asset Divisions– Divorcing later in life means that you have more assets that accumulated over time. The division of your house, and other assets will be determined by: how close each person is to retirement, how long you’ve been married, and more.
  • Insurance– If your spouse cannot afford their own health insurance plan, they may be able to remain on your insurance.
  • Spousal Support– Spousal support is common in all marriages, and there is no exception for gray divorces. Alimony may have to be paid if a spouse does not have or make enough to live.
  • Social Security– A spouse may be entitled to your social security, depending on how long you have been married, and each spouse’s income.
  • Long-Term Care– Long-term care facility and funeral expenses should be talked about during a divorce. Update your will to make sure costs are covered, whether by your former spouse or not.

It is common these days to hear couples who have been married for 50 plus years to get a divorce. While it is shocking, this is our reality. Gray divorces take place for a number of reasons, and it may be difficult. Confide in a friend if you are experiencing one, and find a lawyer that will help you throughout the process. It may be the end of a long chapter of your life, but the beginning of a new one for the rest of it.

Retirement & Medicare

A lot of times, people think that once they retire then they are eligible to start receiving Medicare benefits. But, that is not necessarily true. If you retire early there will be some consequences with your healthcare. Specifically, you will have to pay for it out of pocket.

Retirment is a time to enjoy no more work and not worry. If you do it right, Medicare will cover you.
Retirment is a time to enjoy no more work and not worry. But if you retire early before Medicare age (65), you will have to pay for your own health insurance.

Medicare Age

You can begin applying for Medicare coverage 3 months before you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and 3 months after. For example, if you turn 65 in January, you can enroll anytime from October through April. However, you can not sign up for Medicare any earlier than that.

If You Retire Early

Retiring before you turn 65 will leave you without health insurance. You are not able to acquire or sign up for Medicare, which will leave you looking for private health insurance. You will have to pay for it our of pocket until you are eligible for Medicare. Social security will kick in three years before Medicare eligibility. This means you can start receiving benefits at the age of 62, but it comes with some repercussion. There will be reduction in payments since you have not reached retirement age.

If You Retire Later

Unlike retiring early, if you retire later in the workforce, you will be able to get Medicare. It is always best to look into retirement at the age of 65 or later. You are eligible for a special enrollment period when you are still on a group health insurance plan provided by your employer. After you turn 65 or later and you decide to retire, you will be able to enroll into Medicare during the special enrollment period. You must enroll no later than 8 months after the group health plan or employment ends.

If you fail to enroll into Medicare at age 65, you will have to pay penalties.
If you fail to enroll into Medicare at age 65, you will have to pay penalties.

Penalties

It is important to know that when you turn 65, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare. If you do not enroll when you’re first ineligible, then you may face penalties. For Part A, you can end up paying 10% more on monthly premiums for twice as long as you waited to sign up. For example, if you delayed signing up by one year, then you will pay the penalty for 2 years. As for Part B, you will have a 10% penalty for each full 12-month period you could have enrolled but did not. For example, if you waited 3 years to enroll, then you will have to pay an additional 30% on your monthly premium.

If you have any questions while retiring or need any clarification, EZ.Insure can help. We provide you with your own trained agent within your region that can answer any questions. For a quote, you can enter your zip code in the bar above, or contact an agent by emailing replies@ez.insure, or calling 855-220-1144. Our main mission is to inform you of plans and quotes, and help you sign up for free without hassle or jumping around from agent to agent. We make the process as easy as possible for you.

Medicare Part B Rates Fluctuating In 2018

The fourth quarter is when senior citizens learn about their social security benefits and Medicare. They find out if they will receive higher social security, and how much, also how much monthly premiums will be for Medicare. Most people with Medicare will face higher premiums in 2018.

Medicare Part B insurance covers outpatient care, preventative services, ambulance services, laboratory tests, and durable medical equipment.

The Part B premium increases will not only will this affect older adults who were stable due to their social security benefits, but it will affect a large number of low-income seniors who struggle on a fixed income.

“Hold Harmless”

In order to protect senior citizens living on fixed incomes, a federal law provision, “hold harmless,” prevents Medicare from raising Part B premiums more than their annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) from Social Security. The premiums are being automatically deducted from their Social Security checks. About 70 percent of Medicare enrollees are protected by the “hold harmless” rule.

In 2016, there was no Social Security COLA, so those under “hold harmless,” did not have their Part B premiums rise that year. Last year, Social Security gave enrollees .03 percent COLA, raising premiums from 104.90 to $109 for the hold harmless group. But, Medicare enrollees not in the group (30%) had to pay the full raise in premium, $134.

The Changes

In 2018, the cost-of-living adjustment will go up 2%, which is the highest raise in six years that senior citizens have received. This year, the Medicare Part B premium has remained unchanged from last year’s $134 a month. Because of the premium remaining unchanged, majority of seniors that were protected by the hold harmless provision will be get hit with a major increase in their premium. They will be expected to go from paying $109 a month, to $134 a month, a $25 a month increase. The $25 these senior citizens will be paying leaves them will little to no money for expenses.

Enrollees who are not part of the group, about 30 percent, will not see any additional costs because they already took the hit the previous year.

For high-income enrollees, the more you have the more you pay. Their Part B premiums will increase depending on their income, rising anywhere from $187.50 to $428.60.

Income (adjusted gross income plus tax-exempt interest income):
Single tax return Married filing jointly Monthly Part B premium (per person)
$85,000 or less $170,000 or less $134 (may be less if covered by the hold-harmless provision)
$85,001 to $107,000 $170,001 to $214,000 $187.50
$107,001 to $133,500 $214,001 to $267,000 $267.90
$133,501 to $160,000 $267,001 to $320,000 $348.30
More than $160,000 More than $320,000 $428.60

Other Alternatives

Head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Seema Verma said in a news release, “We encourage Medicare beneficiaries to explore their options to make an informed choice between original Medicare and Medicare Advantage before open enrollment ends on Dec. 7.”

It is a good time to begin exploring other options, to avoid the large financial hit from the increase of Part B premiums. Medicare Advantage plans, Part C, have become popular, offering all that Medicare offers, sometimes cheaper. Instead of having to enroll in Part A, and Part B, and buying a separate Part D (prescription drug plan), Medicare Advantage has all of these under one plan. Medicare Advantage also offers an annual out-of-pocket limit, meaning once you have reached this limit, you will have no more out of pocket expenses.

Another option to consider helping pay for Part B premiums is a Medicare Supplement plan. These plans help pay the 20% that Medicare leaves up to the individual to pay.

It may be confusing comparing plans and figuring out which will tailor your needs, on a budget. EZ.Insure ensures finding you the best Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan in your region, within your financial plan. Get a quote by entering your zip code in the bar above. You can also call 888-753-7207, or email replies@ez.insure.You will be assigned your own highly trained agent to fulfill your needs.