Educational programs around retirement have become more robust over the years but retirement plan participants are still not sure what to do with their accumulated wealth once they can access it.
More than half of individuals who save for retirement have no plan for how to tap those funds when they reach retirement age, according to Pentegra Retirement Services.
The retirement industry has spent the last 20 years advising people how to accumulate retirement savings and reach a magic number. Many may not ever be able to reach that goal, and we must shift some of the focus to helping educate people on what to do with their savings when they retire. How will you actually receive your money? says Rich Rausser, senior vice president of client services at Pentegra Retirement Services. What age will you retire, how much do you think you need to live on each month and how can you make sure you dont run out of money and outlive your savings even without that magic number of savings?
The majority of Americans expect to retire by age 66 and begin taking their Social Security benefits by age 67. On average, working Americans who plan to retire think they will need $3,200 a month to live on when they retire, Pentegra found. Nearly one in five believe they will need at least $5,000 per month.
Based on the average household income of $52,000, this number may seem practical at first glance. But many people do not factor in having to pay for health coverage and cost-of-living increases when estimating how much they will realistically need.
Pentegra surveyed more than 1,000 employed U.S. adults who are not already retired to find out their views on retirement.
The poll revealed that many people dont know what their options are for withdrawing money from their retirement savings. Only 24% knew about lump-sum payments; 29% were familiar with routine quarterly or monthly payments; only 23% were familiar with annuities for themselves which would guarantee a monthly payment over their lifetime; and only 17% were aware of annuities that would be payable to themselves and their beneficiaries for life, Pentegra found.
More people need to know about these annuities. They take the stress and guesswork out of distribution, stretching your savings as far as possible. We call it pension-izing meaning they replicate some of the most important features of pension plans features that made a traditional retirement simple when pensions were more commonplace, Rausser says.
He points out that many people wont reach their magic retirement number and will need to readjust their expectations and views of what a traditional retirement looks like.
Retirement once meant stopping work and getting a pension benefit that replaced a sizeable portion of a salary. Pensions are now less common and retirement today can mean having to work longer or part-time, and delaying Social Security.
The good news is that more creative distribution strategies are available that can help maximize what you have saved. These are called lifetime income solutions, and are an option that people need to learn about to make their future more secure, he says.
Paula Aven Gladych is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado.
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