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How Much Is Enough to Retire and What If there Isn’t Enough?

How Much Is Enough to Retire and What If there Isn’t Enough?

The Great Recession has affected family decisions at every life stage. Get back on your financial feet, even if you are getting a late start.

For one family in their middle forties, their current upper-middle class life of financial success is a result of a 13-year struggle. He was downsized from his job in 2006, then in the aftermath of the Great Recession, he found new jobs, only to be laid off twice, finally landing a position in 2019, as described in Consumer Reports in the article “Will you have enough money to retire?”

The couple has battled to keep their finances together. While the wife continued to be employed, to cope with long periods of low income, they slashed spending while continuing to save for their daughter’s college education. No vacations, low contributions to their 401(k) plan and lowered expectations for retirement were some of the adjustments.

Their boomer parents have recently spent a month in Australia, but that’s not likely to occur for this generation of the family. As members of Generation X, a group in age from about 39-54, they are in classic American mid-life, with mortgage payments, saving for college and saving for retirement. The Great Recession hit this generation harder than others, just as they were establishing themselves.

Only 65% of people between ages 40 and 61 owned their own home in 2016, according to a recent study by the Employee Benefits Research Institute. When today’s boomers were in that age range, 75% owned homes. In addition, few Gen Xers have a retirement plan.

It is true that all Americans were hurt by the recession, but those furthest away from retirement seem to have found it most debilitating. What can this generation do to re-tool for retirement?

Scrutinize finances. Face the financial facts head-on, get a clear picture of how much you bring in every month after taxes and deductions and how much you spend each month.

Cut out any excess. Are you paying twice for the same streaming service, or making auto renew payments for things you don’t use? Even small amounts add up over time.

Deal with debt. Credit card debt at a high rate, like 17%, needs to be paid off as soon as possible. At mid-life, credit card debt can wreck retirement. Target the highest rate debt first. It’s tempting to pay off little accounts first, but the highest rate debt is the most expensive.

Look hard at big ticket items. Skip the new car and opt for a staycation. Downsize to cut housing costs, if that is a realistic option.

Treat retirement savings as sacred. Take advantage of any matching contributions from employers. If you are self-employed, set up an IRA or a solo 401(k) plan. Don’t tap these accounts, no matter what.

Stay employable. The single most effective way to protect retirement is to continue working. That requires staying current in your industry and making yourself necessary. Take advantage of training opportunities or develop new skills outside of the workplace.

ReferenceConsumer Reports (Aug. 29, 2019) “Will you have enough money to retire?”

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“On the threshold of retirement, we finally decided to quit thinking we could self-prepare the requisite documents. We had previously had only a very simple will. We needed the necessary legal (including updated will) & health care docs but didn’t want to deal with the time & complication of legalese. Cindy made the process relatively painless. She took the time to explain and answer questions without trying to upsell services. We were done in 2 meetings plus the reading of emailed drafts. In addition to preparing the documents, Nelson Eldercare will be there when our adult children need advice on executing the plans we’ve put in place.So glad it’s behind us and would recommend Cindy and her helpful staff.”

- Bonnie

Cindy and her company treat their clients like family. Nelson’s offers clear, direct, and honest guidance in planning for your families security and future. No one wants to actively sit down and make these decisions, but Nelson’s makes this process seamless. I was so impressed with their willingness to answer all questions big or small. So glad I made the decision have them help my mom and dad and now me. You can’t go wrong with Nelson’s Elder Care Law.

- Hope

The very best elder law attorney and staff anyone could ever ask for! I have referred a number of clients to Cindy and she never disappoints. She is kind, caring, and extremely thorough in making sure everything is completed as it should be. I highly recommend Cindy for anyone needing lawyer services; she truly goes above and beyond for every client she helps and has had a huge impact in so many peoples’ lives. Thank you, Cindy and staff, for everything that you do- I’m so glad to know you!

- Kerri

I heard Cindy’s presentation at a Senior Luncheon at my church, and was very impressed. She helped my daughter and me understand many aspects of elder law. Josh has also been very helpful in my planning to enter an independent living situation . I have told many friends about them.

- Charlotte

Cindy and the Nelson Elder Care Law team are trustworthy and helpful. They are the experts in elder care law. At Leaf Cremation, we entrust our families to the care of the Nelson team when their services are needed.

- Pierce