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5 Reasons Seniors Neglect Their Retirement Savings

Posted In:  retirement

1. “I'm helping my kid pay for college.”
Sure; higher education costs money, but so does retirement. A 2012 Fidelity survey showed the average family pays for approximately 57% of the total cost of their children’s college education. While this is a noble act, this shouldn’t directly affect the expenses in saving for one’s retirement.

Seniors have a bevy of varying expenses to consider, from credit card debt to out-of-pocket Medicare costs. A common assumption is that Medicare pays for almost everything, but that’s certainly not the case for most elderly Americans. A 2012 study conducted by researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan shows that out-of-pocket costs for older adults’ places a significant financial burden on individuals and senior citizen couples. 25% of Medicare participants spend an average of $101,791 out-of-pocket for medical services. Additionally, one quarter of senior citizens incurred out-of-pocket medical expenses that exceeded the total value of their assets during a five-year period. With such staggering expenditures, the elderly find themselves relying on their retirement funds rather than relishing them.

2. “I can live on social security.”
….Not according to a 2012 trustees report from the Social Security Administration that claims that Social Security reserves are likely to run out in 2037. Additionally, Social Security benefits of today’s elderly American demographic barely allow for seniors to live past poverty lines.  According to the same Social Security Administration report, the 2012 average monthly benefit for retirees is $1,172.  Financial planners say retirees believe their lifestyles will significantly change upon retirement, but this is not the case. A 2011 case study showed that the elderly will need a minimum of 70-80% of their working income to live below comfort line as retirees.

3. “I can just keep working .”
This is a very naïve statement, when considering the influences of ageism existing amongst the workforce. While the elderly may continue to work through their golden years a result of poor financial planning, the average length of unemployment between jobs for older workers is at an all-time high — well exceeding a year.  According to a 2012 AARP study, it takes an average of someone 55 years and older a minimum of 3+ months to find a job than a considerably-younger person. Additionally, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 23,465 age-related charges in 2011; a staggering increase from the 16,548 ageism-based figures collected in 2006. The reason? The older an individual, the increased likelihood of diminished health. There are minimal employment opportunities willing to accommodate multiple (paying) sick days.

4. “I have too many other expenses.”
Seniors - aged 65+ - should find solace in their golden years, subsequent to a lifetime of civic duties and hard work. Sadly, the elderly demographic find themselves neglecting to save for an adequate retirement, in light of many economic issues that take precedent over their 401K reserves. Here are some of the many reasons why senior citizens are struggling to save.

5. “I have no other income.”
With no income, retirement planning is forced to take a backseat to the basic necessities of food and shelter, forcing the elderly to tap into their 401K savings. The recession has only exacerbated these trends, redefining what “retirement” means for aging Americans. Many have awoken from dreamy visions of their Florida condo to the realities of an eroded 401K, IRA and various other investment accounts. According to a 2012 Huffington Post “Underfund Employee Retirement” article, the decline of pensions and employer-sponsored retirement plans has left the nation's seniors more income-deficient over the last 30 years than ever before.  


While various, circumstantial factors may hinder one’s ability to aptly save for retirement, there are options available. Consider preemptive saving alternatives and avoid falling prey to a depleted 401K reserve.

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