Many Americans spend their lives carefully planning for their retirement. And if they’ve done it right, they can expect to live out their golden years stress free and in comfort. At least, that’s the hope.
But there are also many who don’t plan for it at all. A government analysis recently found that average Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 have saved only about $100,000 for retirement. Which is a small amount, considering that would translate into about a $300 monthly payment if your money were invested in a lifetime annuity.
But that number doesn't tell the whole story. Since so many families have no savings whatsoever, and since super-savers can pull up the average, the average overall savings may be a better indication. The median for all working-age families in the U.S. is just $5,000.
However, there seems to be a generational gap. Millennials on the other hand, appear to be ahead of the curve. Saving early and often is the key to long-term financial security. New research shows that nearly one in five Millennials saves 15% or more of every paycheck in a 401(k) plan, which puts them on track to building $1 million retirement portfolios.
They were at an impressionable age during the 2008 financial crisis, and it seems that many took its lessons to heart. Saving has become part of their financial habits, similar to their grandparents who came of age during the Depression.
Given all this information, there is one more thing to consider which may throw the proverbial wrench in your retirement plans — taxes.
Many Americans could experience major shock when they reach their 70s. They’ve spent nearly their entire lives accumulating money in savings and putting it in their 401(k)s and IRAs. But, when they reach their 70s, retirees face the dilemma of having to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) or else face a significant tax penalty.
Tax deferral is often good advice, but too much could come back and bite you in the long run. Here’s the problem. The combination of pension income, Social Security, and forced distributions from 401(k)s and IRAs can potentially put a person back in the same tax bracket they were in when they were working and even, in some cases, a higher one. Every year, as a person moves through their 70s and 80s, the required minimum you are forced to take grows, and that can impact your taxes.
Fortunately, there are some possible strategies to avoid these challenges, so you don’t sink your retirement plans. Insurance products with low interest rates, Roth conversions, and careful investing are just some avenues to explore with your financial and tax advisors.
Remember that your retirement is not just about investment planning and having the right asset allocation mix alone — it’s also about tax planning.
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To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.
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