VOL. 131 | NO. 76 | Friday, April 15, 2016
Rays of Wisdom
Dana and Ray Brandon
A Look at the Numbers
RAY and DANA BRANDON | Special to The Daily News
Ray’s Take: The economy is in flux and there’s a lot of uncertainty over the direction of the capital markets and interest rates. It’s a familiar refrain by this point. Volatility has increased to a numbing level where perhaps we aren’t paying attention as closely as we should to what’s happening in the financial world around us.
We’re living longer and a lot has been written about the looming retirement crisis in this country – especially for baby boomers.
According to National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), 56 percent of U.S. adults don’t have a budget and 39 percent of U.S. adults have no non-retirement savings. Also per NAPFA, in 1991, only 11 percent of American workers expected to retire after age 65. In 2012, that percentage rose to 37 percent.
According to the Urban Institute April 2013 Retirement Security Data Brief, between 2007 and the time the market bottomed out in 2009, 37 percent of retirement funds had been erased. Much has since been recovered, but those were the numbers. Pensions are making headlines in a bad way, as reduced investment returns and increased longevity are reducing payments. These are only a few numbers highlighting the lack of retirement readiness in America and also the overall poor state of finances nationwide.
The retirement of baby boomers will have the biggest impact on our economy in the coming years. In 2003, 82 percent of boomers were part of the labor force. Ten years later, that number declined to 66 percent, and it has continued to fall ever since. It is too soon to gauge the impact of the millennials in the workforce, but their habits appear different. With all else equal, fewer workers mean less economic growth.
Unfortunately, many people put off retirement planning for any of a variety of understandable reasons. Some worry that it will just be too depressing, and in fact prove that they'll never be able to retire. The need for a financial plan has never been greater.
Dana’s Take: Recent news stories have torched the dream of a secure retirement for many baby boomers. Memphis and Shelby County are denying responsibility for paying retirement benefits to a generation of teachers. Retired Memphis firefighters are struggling to make ends meet now that health insurance costs have multiplied.
Now would be a wise time to consult a financial adviser and ask about these possibilities. What if my retirement benefits don’t pan out as promised? Will I have enough personal savings and investments to maintain my standard of living? Might I need to downsize my lifestyle now to insure a more comfortable life later?
Make sure your assumptions are realistic for the coming years. Happiness can last for decades if we scale back and conserve resources along the way.
Ray Brandon, CEO of Brandon Financial Planning, and his wife, Dana, a licensed clinical social worker, can be reached at brandonplanning.com.