When it comes to financial health in retirement, how much you set aside for your senior years is only half the story. Equally important is how you invest and spend what you’ve saved, and a recent survey indicates more than 50 percent of retirees aren’t spending wisely.
Fifty-five percent of seniors aren’t sure how much money they will need to last throughout retirement, according to a national survey by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, which polled 800 retired and not-yet-retired Americans age 60 to 74. What’s more, the majority (56 percent) is off target with their monthly spending in retirement; 29 percent spent more than expected while 27 percent spent less.
“This generation has taken a hands-off approach to saving and spending planning when in retirement,” says Mark Anema, vice president of accumulation and retirement income solutions for Thrivent Financial. “But the reality is they can’t afford to take chances because they often don’t have the pension plan or other secure income their parents may have had to ensure they are not destitute in old age. The financial planning process doesn’t end at 65.”
Upon retiring, seniors should take stock of their assets and income to determine how much of a monthly withdrawal their finances will support, Anema recommends. Comparing what they can afford to spend against essential monthly expenses will give them a perspective on what they’ll need to do to make their money last throughout their retirement. “You may find you need to adjust your investment portfolio, or that you can quit the part-time job you thought you’d need,” he says.
Seniors should also be aware that their investment strategy during retirement needs to be different than their parents’ approach, Anema adds. “Whereas our parents sought to move their money into less risky investments once they retired, today’s retirees often can’t afford to do that. Reduced income, inflation, rising health care costs and the very real possibility of outliving one’s assets may make it necessary to continue investing in the stock market.”
Finally, seniors should not go it alone when it comes to planning their retirement spending. While less than a quarter of seniors polled by Thrivent Financial had consulted a financial planner in the first two years of their retirement, 95 percent of those who did found the advice helpful.
Planning services such as Thrivent Financial’s new Thrivent Retirement Income Optimizer (TRIO) can help maximize income potential throughout retirement. The strategy focuses on three principles: diversify one’s portfolio to maintain growth, ensure a steady income stream while retaining flexibility, and follow guidelines to achieve the right balance of spending and investment. The plan is reevaluated each year to keep pace with the reality of the retiree’s financial situation.
“TRIO is unique in that it works with all one’s existing assets and income sources, whether with Thrivent Financial or other firms,” Anema says. TRIO also leverages technology that institutional investors use to help manage a person’s retirement assets and spending.
“It’s understandable that many people overlook the second phase of retirement planning and believe they’ll be able to manage their income in retirement on their own,” says Anema. “But unknown factors such as market performance, life expectancy, health issues and a person’s changing wants and needs make a holistic plan for retirement essential to ensure retirees are living their retirement vision to the fullest.”
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To learn more about spending in retirement and Thrivent Financial’s TRIO, visit www.thrivent.com/TRIO