An endless number of studies have documented people’s general lack of financial preparedness for their later years. As just one example, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) says that among workers age 55 and older, 44% have less than $250,000 saved for retirement (25% have less than $50,000).
No amount of finger-wagging lectures seems to move the savings needle. The most effective solution has been to take the decision to save out of people’s hands via the growing trend among corporations to automatically enroll workers in 401(k) plans. But even that isn’t enough since the default automatic savings rate is typically less than 5% of salary and most workers never increase that amount.
If you realize you may not be doing enough to prepare for the future, but you’re having a hard time saving more, there’s a step you can take will probably help. And it’s pretty simple. Use a free online calculator to run some numbers and find out how much you really should be setting aside each month for your later years. It seems to motivate people to save more.
According to the EBRI, less than half of all of today’s workers have taken that step, but those that have tend to set higher savings goals, do what it takes to free up cash flow to set aside more for the later years, and end up feeling more confident about their financial future.
Schwab offers one of the simplest free online retirement calculators. In just a few minutes, you can see whether you’re on track toward a solid financial future, and you can easily change certain assumptions to see what it would take to make the numbers work better.
Before giving it a try, it’ll be helpful to know your estimated Social Security benefit. Find out by creating an account with the Social Security Administration.
Keep in mind that different online retirement calculators use different assumptions. So, for extra credit, try at least one more, such as Fidelity’s Retirement Score calculator or the T. Rowe Price Retirement Income Calculator. (You’ll have to register to use the T. Rowe Price calculator, but you do not need to be a paying customer.)
Premium members of Sound Mind Investing also have access (via a small one-time fee) to MoneyGuide, one of the most sophisticated retirement planning tools available and widely considered the gold standard among financial advisors.
Have you ever used a retirement planning calculator? If so, what impact did it have on your retirement savings?
Take it to heart: “Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.” – Proverbs 21:20
Take action: Use one or more of the online retirement planning calculators today, discuss the results with your spouse if you’re married, and take action this week to make any necessary adjustments to how much you’re investing for your later years.
Extra credit: If you have kids at home, they could have their retirement largely funded by the time they graduate from high school. I devote a chapter to this in, Trusted: Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God-Honoring Money Management.
If you haven’t done so already, why not subscribe to this blog? Twice a week, you’ll receive ideas and encouragement for using money well.