Let’s face it, the road to retirement isn’t always straightforward. Even with the best planning, many of us are likely to have to experience at least one financial setback in our life. The older we get, the more stressful if can be.
A survey conducted by Ameriprise Financialfound that respondents aged between 50 to 70, reported experiencing at least one financial setback. More than 50% said it seriously reduced their retirement savings by an average loss of $117,000.
A financial setback can be out of your control
Unfortunately, there are some events you have no power over. A sudden job loss, divorce, ill health, disability, natural disaster, care needs of an elderly parent or the sudden death of a partner are all difficult to foresee sometimes. That doesn’t mean that you can’t plan for them. For instance, invest in building an emergency fund to help see you through any unforeseen disasters.
A financial setback can be self-inflicted
Some financial setbacks, however, are due to our own behaviours such as procrastination in saving, overspending, stacking up credit card bills, getting into debt. For instance, due to the high cost of going to university, many parents are overborrowing to pay for their child’s higher education. As a result, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureauhas reported that the number of consumers age 60 and older paying off student loan debt has quadrupled over the last decade.
However daunting it may feel to be suddenly facing a financial crisis, it’s important to remember you are not alone. Others have been through it before and there are always solutions.
Financial difficulties affect most people at some time.
Getting through a setback and bouncing back can actually make us stronger and help us realize what’s really important in life. It can be tempting to dream about improving your finances but not acting till a need arises. A setback can be the motivation you need to finally take some action. Plan, commit and just do it. You can then enter retirement feeling confident that yourself and loved ones will be protected.
Here’s a short guide to help you better understand how to build your own financial resilience whilst ensuring your future retirement is protected.
The biggest threat to the financial security of your future retirement is not saving enough money. You should be aiming to save around 15% of your monthly income. Stuart Ritter, vice-presidentof T. Rowe Price Investment Services observes that “not enough people are saving enough, saving 3% for retirement is like going to the gym for 6 minutes.” According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average amount being paid into private-sector workplace pension schemes in the UK was only 4.7% of a worker’s salary.
- Future Health Planning
A 2014 Merrill Lynch studyfound that 70% of couples age 50+ had not discussed the possible cost of their health care during retirement. Yet, 81% of retirees said that health was more important to them than financial security. There’s no doubt that health is one of the biggest challenges facing retirees. 50% of retirees retired earlierthan they expected, mainly due to health issues. It is vital to calculate health care costs in retirement plans to avoid future crisis.
- Don’t Blame Yourself
When you experience a financial setback, don’t blame yourself. It is far better to focus your mind on solutions rather than regret.
A 2017 study commissioned by theNational Endowment for Financial Educationfound that by the age of 70, a staggering 96% of Americans will experience four or more major life events like redundancy, divorce or illness resulting in a 10% drop in income. The study also reported that 60% of workers will experience a full year without earning a salary, at least once in their life.
Let the past be the past, instead focus on practical steps to overcome your situation. Even if you are saving just a little bit every month, this can go a long way. It can be a first step in nudging you into creating a more robust emergency fund.
- Assess your situation
After experiencing a serious setback, you need to quickly assess your financial situation. This will include making an inventory of all your remaining assets, available resources, and any liabilities. Once you have a clear idea of where you are now, you can then start to design a practical plan for the journey ahead. This is a good moment to seek professional advice.
- Develop a recovery plan
It’s important to gather as much information as possible about your situation to help you create a practical plan. Here are some things to include in your list:
- Inventory of all your remaining assets.
- Figure showing how much money you owe and what your monthly outgoings are.
- Total figure showing interest spend on all debts e.g mortgage, credit cards, bar loans
- Net monthly income
- All implications of financial setback e.g. healthcare, alimony, insurance
- Be Smart
As part of your financial recovery strategy you need to identify what you want to achieve next and what is realistic. A good way to do this is to identify and analyze your financial goals. This should not be a wish list. For instance, if you are heavily in debt or facing bankruptcy, aiming to become a millionaire in the near future seems unrealistic. Be specific and practical in identifying your goals. Identify exactly how much income you need a month as a minimum, set deadlines to achieve this, then regularly evaluate your progress.
- Don’t Wait, Act now
Forewarned is to be forearmed. Planning ahead how you will cope with a financial setback should be part of your retirement plan. We all know things can go wrong at any time – illness, job loss, natural disaster. Prepare by making sure you have enough money saved that when faced with unexpected events you have a financial buffer. Don’t ignore your debt; instead try to pay it off as quickly as possible. This will reduce the amount of interest you end up paying and free up available cash that you can use in a future crisis.
- Invest in happiness
Long-term financial recovery involves rethinking spending priorities. This means making savings and cut back where possible depending on your situation. Before you start sacrificing your entire budget, observe what things are important to keep you feeling healthy and happy. This is something that will be particularly important if you are going through a difficult situation.
The US Financial Diaries, a study of the money habits of 235 families, found that an occasional financial extravagance actually makes it easier to maintain a disciplined budget longer term. Allowing yourself a few pleasures that remind you of how you want your life to be can help you emotionally recover faster from whatever adversity and financial setback you have experienced.
- Home Based Business
Have you considered that a home based business may provide you the combination of extra income, mental stimulation and the opportunity of creating the lifestyle you want?
Laptops, mobile devices and the internet make it possible to create a strong, viable business from the comfort of your own home or wherever you choose to be in the world. Many baby boomers are rethinking the way they want to live their lives, choosing to create a non-traditional retirement as a entrepreneur, boosting their income and enhancing their lifestyle.