Elderly Independent Living

If one desires to continue living independently into their elderly years, then besides their health, they need to be concerned with their financial independence.  Though retirement planning is often thought of as number of vacations and which golf course to belong to, the fact is that being ready for retirement is the only way to live independently into your golden years.

Time for some scary retirement readiness statistics – or at least scary for most Americans who are no doubt nowhere near on track to be able to afford to retire before age 75.  A recent CNN/Money video report said that by age 40, your investments should be 5 times your annual salary and your investments should be earning about 25% of your salary each year. That would mean a 40-year-old making $65,000 per year should have $325,000 invested in retirement accounts already. The “5 times your salary” total is “a good benchmark,” the video tells us, and goes on to say that by age 50, a person should have 10 times your salary in retirement accounts and that by age 65, the goal to have a secure retirement is having 23 times your salary.

So are you now part of the elderly independent living group?  I know several 40-year-olds who are in the $65,000 salary ballpark, and I also know they all fall well short of having $325,000 socked away for retirement, even before what happened to those retirement accounts in 2008. Yes, 2009 provided somewhat of a recovery with the Dow up 18.8% for the year, the NASDAQ up 43.9% and the S&P 500 up 23.5%. But we fear far too many still shell-shocked middle-age Americans did not contribute enough of their paychecks in 2009 – if they still had a job – to retirement accounts.

The national savings rate for November 2009 was 4.7%, meaning Americans on average saved about a nickel of every dollar. That’s actually up over last year, and a significant improvement from 2005, where the national savings rate was actually -0.5% – the first time the country had a negative savings rate since the great depression. But we’re still a long way from a time like May 1985, where Americans actually saved 11.1% of their income.

Do you wonder what percentage of Americans actually hit or exceed the previously mentioned benchmark at age 40? Low single-digits perhaps? As for everyone else, I don’t suppose people will magically start doubling that nickel of every dollar, but we need to do everything we can to raise awareness that saving money for retirement needs to become a much higher priority for the average American.

Doubling that nickel now still won’t get you to that benchmark by age 50, but maybe down the road retiring at 75 will be possible. Hey, 75 is the new 65, right?

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