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Retirees Are Trading Their Golden Years For the Golden Arches
It seems every time I take my 10 year old to McDonalds lately, I order from someone who is probably hanging out with my grandparents. In fact, I guess most of them ARE grandparents. I started to think maybe they knew something I didn’t know about the best place to work – a free uniform, quarter pound discounts, an extra order of McNuggets – but then I realized that these retirees were not working because they wanted to, but because they had to. After all, if you could choose between traveling, playing golf and enjoying your golden years or standing behind the cash register with the golden arches… well, the choice would have already been made.
Unfortunately, retirees are returning to the labor market – having seen their nest egg lose 25-50% of its value in recent years. They were all convinced by the financial situation gurus that the best way to retire was to spend 30 years contributing to a heavily taxed plan likely to lose money for 80% of participants. They listened to the Ramseys’ and Ormans’ cries of unrealistic comebacks and believed the hype that “there’s no other way!” when it comes to preparing for the day, you (hopefully) stop working (for good) and start living your dreams. The result, hundreds of thousands of baby boomers frantically trying to find a way to recover, and even more retirees returning to work – finding that the competition is so fierce that the only place they can easily find a job is a place that asks “would you like fries with that?”
For retirees, it’s too late. The damage is done and they will recover for the rest of their lives. For baby boomers, now is the time to take big steps to secure your future. Continuing with the status quo will get you to the same place as today’s retirees. Waiting for the market to recover is NOT a plan, it is madness (madness – doing the same thing and expecting different results). Do the math; if your account lost 50% in last year’s sell off (i.e. your balance went from $100,000 to $50,000), the market needs to go up 100% just for you reach the VERY THRESHOLD! The average time it takes for the market to go up 100% is 7-10 years!! The average recovery time (a flat market) after a recession is 16 years! Are you starting to see the problem?
Fact – the average mutual fund investor actually lost one percent a year, adjusted for inflation.
Fact – 80% of all investment advisors and mutual funds are doing WORSE than the overall market every year.
I’m a counselor, so the truth hurts… but that doesn’t make it any less true. I’m sure you think you’ll be among the 20% whose account continues to grow – beating the market and building a fortune for your years to come. That’s also what today’s retirees thought, convinced of this lie every time they turned on CNBC or talk radio. If they’ve convinced you too, keep doing what you’ve always done – the world will always need someone to drop off another batch of fries for the lunch rush.
People in their 30s and 40s need to start planning for their retirement in different ways. They need to change some of their retirement savings in accounts that do not fluctuate with the market. Another lie conveyed by the media is that the stock market is posting an average of 10 to 12% per year… NO WAY! The actual inflation-adjusted long-term average is 6%, and with that comes all the stress of the constant roller coaster and the fact that the year you decide to retire could be another year. , the market falls and you lose 1/2 of your money.
The other problem facing retirees is the constant increase in taxes. Convinced that their 401(K) was the best place for their retirement savings, they accumulated as much pre-tax savings as possible. They’ve been told (as you are today) that it’s best to defer taxes until retirement because you’ll earn less and be in a lower tax bracket. There are TWO problems with this line of thinking:
1. No one is in a lower tax bracket than 20 or 30 years ago because taxes have gone up and continue to go up. We expect more tax increases in the coming years – a necessity to pay for increased government spending and bailouts. Seniors who were in a 15% net tax bracket 20 years ago no longer have the tax advantages they had when they were younger (children at home, mortgage interest, etc.) and pay today 25 to 30% tax.
2. Who wants to plan to be in a lower tax bracket when they retire? Think about it, that means you expect to have less money than you do now. Do you feel like you have too much right now? If not, why would you PLAN to have less in the future?
There’s never been a better time to sit down with an advisor who focuses on risk-free, tax-free planning and assess the road you’re headed to determine where you’ll be when it’s finally time to retire. . A Chinese proverb says, “No matter how far you find out you are going in the wrong direction…Turn around!” Continuing will only take you further away from the desired destination.
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