Friday, April 13, 2007

MarketWatch: 'Pollyanna', 'Americans refuse to confront dark side of retirement'

How about you?

A few of Mr. Powell's points:

"More than seven in 10 Americans are either 'very confident' or 'somewhat confident' " [regarding the adequacy of their retirement funding.]

"Yet almost half of workers have less than $25,000" [saved, excluding home or defined pensions]. This stinks. Your pension, if it comes in and stays reliably funded, may not be as much you think it will be. Are you married,and planning to get the 'pays as long as either of us is still alive' option, the amount you get will be reduced by perhaps a fourth. A fourth. the alternative is worse. Don't, please don't (guys) shaft the wife of your youth by taking the single-life option. (Individual circumstances might alter this. I'm talking about the normal case here.) If you do that, then die first, then she is without that ongoing money.

Your social security will only pay in full if you wait until you are 66 or even older. Take it earlier and they cut the payment. Work between then and your 66th birthday or whenever the magic date is for you and they take back a lot. And what you do get from Social Security likely will be "means-tested" at some point. That means you may get less. In other words, if you are not simply destitute, you might get to assist Uncle Sam to reduce his staggering budgetary pressures by getting even less.

The message for those of you in this situation is that you should get very, very serious now about providing for your retirement years. And watch out for the financial services pros who want to cure your apprehension by selling you some cure-all, heavily commissioned wonder annuity. Poor performance, excessive salesman compensation and wretchedly bad disclosure of ongoing costs will not make your situation better. The best solution is learning how to invest well, or, failing that, get some low-fee competent advice. And then you make the very best use of your remaining years in the workforce to get yourself back into the game.

Sunny Americans refuse to confront dark side of retirement - MarketWatch

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