By Jake Bleicher, Equity Analyst, CFA®
Almost half of households near retirement have nothing saved, and that’s a big problem. I believe the biggest headwind is merely getting started: saving money is hard to do. Life is filled with unpredictable events. Children, healthcare expenses and student debt exact a large toll on many Americans.
Heart-wrenching stories of families that spend everything paying for a loved one’s chemotherapy or raising a child with disabilities, unfortunately, are far too common. There are tragic circumstances that prevent some families from saving for retirement, but 48% of households aged 55+ had zero retirement savings in 2016.
Most people know they need to save money for retirement, but nearly half of all households just don’t. Not unlike exercise, we all know the benefits of physical activity, yet 77% of Americans don’t do it enough.
The Exercise of Saving
Heart disease runs in my family and a few years ago my blood pressure started to rise above normal levels. My doctor told me to get healthy, eat better and exercise. Basically, the things that everyone would know to do. I was going to start my new fitness routine in the summer when I had more time, but then I didn’t have the right shoes. Then it was raining, then it was too glary and hot outside. I always found some excuse to put it off.
Two years passed and my blood pressure kept rising. I finally decided to start running, so I ordered a new pair of running shoes. Six months later, I still hadn’t worn the shoes and my blood pressure was concerningly high.
My doctor asked me a question that changed my entire perspective, he asked, “What would your children do if you suddenly died?”
Not unlike saving for retirement, it took something major, like the thought of not being here for my kids, to get me into a habit of running. What drastic thing will it take for us to start saving properly for retirement? Have you taken the time to think about your saving habits? Are you putting enough away to retire comfortably, or would your lifestyle need to change?
Never too Late!
My first two-mile run was somewhat embarrassing, but I kept at it! Slowly I got into shape and my blood pressure is now normal. I still have a long way to go, but the important thing is I started and just kept going.
It’s never too late to begin planning for the future and saving for retirement. Just like my journey to heart health, you have to start somewhere. Luckily there are people available to help you take that first step. Connect with a financial advisor to help you get started today.
A Tool to Get You Started
Author Karen Lamb said it well, “A year from now you will wish you had started today.” When it comes to saving for retirement, don’t let that be ten or twenty years from now! Don’t risk being part of the 48% of Americans entering retirement with nothing saved (or the 77% of Americans who don’t exercise enough) – get out there and put one foot in front of the other.
One great place to start is our Retirement Readiness Quiz that can give you an idea of your preparation for retirement in just a few minutes.