The pattern has been the same for the past several generations here in the U.S. After high school and maybe college you embark on your work life. You spend four decades or so in various jobs. Then at some point you figure you have enough resources to retire – to stop your regular job and enjoy a new season with fewer demands, less stress, and so on. Well, that may be our typical image, but these days – in the minds of as many as one in four American workers – that final step, retirement, will probably never happen.
“No Plans” to Retire? That May Be Completely Unrealistic
At least that’s the conclusion from this study that was just released by AP-NORC, a collaborative partnership between the Associated Press and the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. (You may have seen this story re-printed in several local and national news sources and websites.) Researchers at the AP-NORC center surveyed over 1,400 adults nationwide about their retirement plans. What they found confirms other news articles we’ve read recently here at the AgingOptions blog: the dream of a secure retirement is “elusive for many in the U.S.,” according to study author Andrew Soergel. Almost half of respondents consider themselves financially unprepared for retirement, and nearly one in four claim they will never retire at all. As the study infers, a few of these could be motivated by their zeal for their work, but the majority simply consider retirement unaffordable.
As we read stories like this, we’re reminded once again of the absolute necessity for people to plan properly for retirement. How many of those who say they are financially unprepared to retire have done any actual planning at all? And how many know that financial planning alone is a completely inadequate means of preparing for life after we leave the workforce? We wish we could get some of those most pessimistic about their retirement prospects to see how a proper retirement plan, called a LifePlan, can turn “retirement doom and gloom” into optimism and a sense of security about the future. It can do the same for you. We’ll explain more in a moment.
No Plans to Retire? That Suggests a Disconnect from Workplace Realities
Andrew Soergel’s article on the AP-NORC study says that the data about never retiring “suggests a disconnection between individuals’ retirement plans and the realities of aging in the workforce.” In other words, those workers who expect to stay on the job indefinitely are in for a rude awakening. “Experts say illness, injury, layoffs and caregiving responsibilities often force older workers to leave their jobs sooner than they’d like,” Soergel writes. We also know from articles such as this one published earlier in 2019 that age discrimination is alive and prevalent in the workplace in spite of having been outlawed more than fifty years ago. Other studies suggest that once older workers lose their jobs, they have a much harder time finding a new one, and often never manage to get back to the earning level they had enjoyed previously. (The U.S. Labor Department statistics report that about 20 percent of people 65 and older are either working or actively looking for work.)
The biggest reason so many people never expect to retire comes down to one factor: they consider themselves financially unprepared. “For many, money has a lot to do with the decision to keep working,” says Soergel. As one expert from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College told him, “People have to live in retirement much longer, and they may not have enough assets to support themselves.” That’s why AP-NORC shows that fewer than 30 percent of respondents over 50 consider themselves “extremely prepared” or “very prepared” financially for retirement – leaving seven out of ten describing themselves as either somewhat ready to retire or not ready at all. Among current retirees, the numbers are slightly better but not great: roughly 60 percent said they felt somewhat or not at all prepared for the fiscal realities of life once the paychecks stop coming.
(Other surveys have painted a somewhat more optimistic picture about how prepared people feel for retirement, but many experts claim those who express a high level of readiness might just be kidding themselves. We wrote about the disconnect between American’s relatively high level of retirement confidence and their low level of actual retirement preparation here on the AgingOptions blog back in early May.)
No Plans to Retire? You’re Setting Yourself Up for Frustration and Failure
The bottom line from the AP-NORC study, in our view, is that planning is the key – not shallow and one-dimensional planning, but strategic planning that is honest and comprehensive. Don’t kid yourself that working forever is your solution. “Remaining in the workforce may be unrealistic for people dealing with unexpected illness or injuries,” the Andrew Soergel article concludes. “For them, high medical bills and a lack of savings loom large over day-to-day expenditures.” So, is there a way to plan for many if not most of these unanticipated contingencies? Fortunately, as thousands have discovered, the answer is yes. The solution is an AgingOptions LifePlan.
As we said above, when it comes to retirement planning, you need to be thinking about much more than money. Here at AgingOptions, we treat retirement in a holistic way, combining all the critical aspects of solid retirement planning – finances, housing, medical coverage, legal protection and family communications – into one comprehensive plan which we call a LifePlan. With your LifePlan in place, you’ll have the blueprint you need to build the retirement you’ve dreamed of, one that is fruitful and secure. Best of all, you’ll realize your hopes of protecting your assets, avoiding burdening those you love, and escaping the unhappy trap of being forced against your will into institutional care.
Why not take a simple next step and learn more at an AgingOptions LifePlanning Seminar? Join Rajiv Nagaich at one of these highly popular free events. Thousands of people just like you have discovered the power of LifePlanning in this easy and entertaining way. Click here for our Live Events page and select the seminar that’s best for you; then register online to reserve your place. Come learn more about true retirement preparedness at an AgingOptions LifePlanning Seminar near you. And meanwhile, age on!
(originally reported at https://workinglongerstudy.org)