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The Dangers of Not Planning for Retirement—and How to Avoid Them

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“Regrets, I’ve had a few,” Frank Sinatra admitted in one of his most famous ballads, adding that the regrets came even though, “I planned each charted course, each careful step…”

Unfortunately, many of us don’t plan carefully when it comes to finances, and that results in plenty of big regrets, especially regarding savings. The most common of all these financial regrets is not saving for retirement early enough (the biggest financial regret among 18% of respondents in a survey), and the second biggest is not saving enough for emergency expenses (14%), according to a recent study by the consumer-finances website Bankrate.com. Those answers beat out concerns about debt. Only 10% of respondents said taking on too much credit card debt was their biggest financial regret, and 8% cited taking on too much student loan debt.

What’s it tell us? The results underscore the huge importance of saving as much as possible starting as early as possible—and setting realistic goals that you update along the way— rather than coming up with lots of excuses why not to.

It’s really like a message from the future—our own future, if we’re not careful. Don’t let money mistakes jeopardize your retirement.

Bankrate points to findings from Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research showing that roughly half of working-age Americans will struggle to maintain their standard of living beyond their earning years. And only half of middle-income Americans own a retirement account, with a median holding of just $25,000, according to the Federal Reserve. The situation gets even more dire for households headed by someone between the ages of 55 and 64. Even at that point, approaching retirement, only 60% are saving for retirement. And the median amount they have saved is $120,000, way short of what is needed for a secure retirement.

Sorry to say, it gets even worse. Besides retirement savings, many financial planners recommend saving enough to cover six months’ worth of critical expenses, which is about $23,000 for the average household in a major metropolitan area, according to Bankrate. In reality, the average American has less than $4,000 saved to weather short-term emergencies like a job loss or health scare.

Despite the regrets, many people taking part in the survey said that they have not begun to take corrective actions to address their financial regrets. What a shame…and what an opportunity to change yourfuture starting now with greater attention to calculating how much you can spend, save and invest along the way rather than waiting until the task becomes much harder.

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Source: Bankrate.com’s Financial Security Index survey of 1,004 respondents conducted by SSRS Omnibus. Date: June 5, 2018 Publication: Bottom Line Personal
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