Setting the record straight on common retirement myths


Frank Randall, Regional Director, Retirement Plan Services

It’s National Retirement Planning Week and an important time to take a closer look at some of the common myths that if followed, could decrease your spending power, and your happiness, in retirement.

  1. “It’s too late to start saving now.” Even in your late 40s or early 50s, you still have 15 to 20 years to grow your nest egg. The government has given incentives by enacting tax laws designed to help people over the age of 50 to contribute a little extra to retirement plans so they can catch up as retirement nears.
  2. “I can’t start saving for retirement until I pay off my debt.” Not all debt is bad. A financial advisor can help you differentiate between debt you can carry and the debt you should prioritize paying off over retirement savings (i.e., high-interest credit cards).
  3. “I’ll start saving after I get my kids through college.” Borrowing for college is easier than borrowing for retirement.
  4. “I need to be super conservative in my investments so my money will last.” The flaw in this strategy is that it doesn’t consider the impact of inflation. While inflation has been tame in recent memory, even at 2-3% over long periods of time, inflation can have a devastating impact on wealth.
  5. “It’ll just be me (and my spouse).” Many retirees either underestimate or do not anticipate the financial toll associated with providing financial support to their adult children, yet over one-third (36%) of the young adults ages 18-31 live with their parents. It’s not uncommon for the adult children to have children of their own, adding layers of both complexity and expense. Furthermore, Securian Financial Group reported that only 10% of the adult children living with their parents contribute to the household finances (e.g., pay rent). Retirees may also have the added expense of providing care to elderly relatives. In a recent blog, John Solomon, EVP of our Wealth Advisory group, pointed out that 25% of adults, mostly Baby Boomers, provide care to a parent.
  6. “I’ll pay it back.” Avoid borrowing against your retirement account. Even if you repay the loan, your nest egg will suffer because you will probably incur interest charges and fees. In addition, you will miss out on the compounding effect of the original funds, your contributions may be suspended while the loan is outstanding, and you will be more likely to sell low and buy high.
  7. “I won’t have to pay as much in taxes.” In retirement your income will be lowered, which will in turn lower your effective tax rate. Keep in mind; however, cost of living is impacted by all forms of taxes, including state income tax, local income tax, property tax, sales tax, capital gains tax, and Medicare tax. Also, in retirement you’ll likely have fewer federal deductions and dependents to claim, so a greater percentage of your income goes to the government.
  8. “Medicare will cover my health care expenses.” Medicare doesn’t cover everything, and the items not covered can add up. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College estimates out of pocket medical care expenses for retirees at approximately $4,300/year for individuals and $8,600/year for couples. These amounts don’t include long-term care expenses. Many retirees purchase supplemental policies (called Medigap) to cover co-pays, deductibles and other expenses that Medicare does not. Medigap policies can ultimately cost you more than you paid for health care covered when employed.
  9. “I won’t have as many expenses.” Retirement expenses might not be as low as you think. Unstructured time often leads to greater spending. Also, many people wait until retirement to increase travel and pursue hobbies when work is no longer standing in the way.
  10. “I will have more time to study the markets in retirement.” The more you know about investment principles and the long-term historical record of the market, the better outcomes you can expect to achieve in your retirement portfolio. The American Association of Individual Investors found that investing knowledge enhances risk-adjusted returns by at least 1.3% annually. Over 30 years, the improved portfolio performance leads to 25% greater wealth. So, don’t wait until you are in retirement to begin studying up on investment principles. Start today.
  11. “I don’t need help.” While your financial mission in retirement may seem straightforward—to not outlive your money—the decisions you face along the way can be complicated. An experienced financial advisor can help you manage your retirement portfolio to meet your preservation and growth objectives, help you establish an income strategy matched to your spending needs, and track your spending versus assumptions. If a crisis arises, a trusted financial advisor will know your financial history and can help make decisions in your best interests.

For over 10 years, Brinker Capital Retirement Plan Services has worked with advisors to offer plan sponsors the solutions to help participants reach their retirement goals. When plan sponsors appoint Brinker Capital as the ERISA 3(38) investment manager, this allows them to transfer fiduciary responsibility for the selection and management of their investments so they can focus on the best interests of their employees.  This fiduciary responsibility is something that Brinker Capital has acknowledged, in writing, since our founding in 1987.

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The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.