Boomers: 5 Signs You’ll Never Be Able To Retire

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Just because you’re a baby boomer “of retirement age” doesn’t mean you’re able to actually retire. Financial preparation, not age, is the key to a successful retirement.

While many Americans think that once they hang up their working shoes they’ll be able to retire thanks to savings, Social Security and/or a pension, the truth is that many won’t actually be ready. If you’re a boomer — typically defined as born between 1946 and 1964 — and you’re struggling to make it to retirement, it could be because of one of the signs listed below.

If you can address any of these issues, you may be able to someday make it to the promised land of retirement. 

You Haven’t Reached Your Retirement Savings Number

The biggest and most obvious reason you won’t be able to retire is that you can’t reach your retirement savings goal. For example, if you need $40,000 per year to live on and you have just $100,000 in your retirement account, you’re not really in a position to retire. Sure, you could live for two or maybe three years off that money, but if it runs out and you have no real sources of income, you’ll be in a serious predicament. 

Are You Retirement Ready?

While it might seem a bit late to start saving for retirement if you’re already 70 years old, if you’re on the younger side of the boomer spectrum — say, age 60 or so — you can continue to work and save for at least a few more years. That alone can be enough to help you reach your goal. Remember, the longer you work, the fewer years of retirement you’ll have to finance, so your savings target number will decrease every year.

Social Security: No Matter Your Age, Do Not Claim Benefits Until You Reach This Milestone

You Have Too Much Debt

Debt is a financial killer no matter what your age. In your working years, debt pulls your cash flow away from your savings and investments, making it hard to reach your retirement savings goal and creating problem No. 1 above.

Debt is particularly troublesome if you are already in your 60s or 70s, as paying down debt and saving as much as possible at the same time may overwhelm your cash flow. If you have too much debt in your 70s, it can be hard to truly retire, even if you are making only minimum payments, so try to start addressing this issue as soon as possible.

Are You Retirement Ready?

You Don’t Have an Emergency Fund

While an emergency fund isn’t an absolute necessity to retire, it’s definitely a red flag if you don’t have one. A single large, unexpected cost could drive you into significant debt, which in turn would drain your cash flow. Suddenly, a retirement budget that covered all of your bases would have to divert significant resources to debt service.

Without enough money to cover basic expenses like rent and utility bills, you might fall deeper and deeper into a debt spiral from which you could not recover. This is why having an emergency fund is essential to being able to retire.

You Don’t Know How To Budget

In retirement, you’ll be trading your primary source of income for investment and Social Security income. Although your investment accounts may grow in value and your Social Security payments will adjust annually for inflation, this type of income is essentially fixed. If you don’t know how to budget around a fixed income, it’s likely that you’ll fall into a pattern of overspending. 

Without the ability to track every incoming and outgoing dollar, it’s far too easy to spend money whenever you want. This almost certainly will drain your retirement savings prematurely. If you have neither the interest nor the ability to budget, you’re really not in a position to retire successfully.

Are You Retirement Ready?

The good news is that budgeting isn’t particularly hard — it just takes patience and dedication. Even if you’re already in your 70s, it’s not too late to learn how to budget. 

You Can’t Imagine Life Without Work

Successfully retiring isn’t all about numbers. There’s a definite mental component to it as well. If, after a lifetime of working and socializing in an office, you’re not sure whether you’re ready for a life on your own, you might not be. If you don’t have outside hobbies or a plan for your life after you retire, retirement might actually end up being a chore, or outright lonely.

To avoid falling into this predicament, start thinking about exactly how you envision a successful retirement, and be sure to stock it with mentally stimulating activities.

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Are You Retirement Ready?

About the Author

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.
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