The baby boom generation is now in their mid-50s and older. Many of them now have regrets about what they did not do to prepare for retirement, but those in younger generations can learn from the boomers’ regrets.
The primary regret is the failure to plan. Too many are getting into their retirement years with no plans. Those plans need to include tax planning with forethought toward the future. Many of them are taking Social Security early, only to find that doing so results in paying more taxes and significantly decreasing their retirement income in later years. Most people would benefit by waiting until age 70 to start social security.
Another regret is not making wise investing choices. Many have found their conservative investments they made out of fear resulted in earning less than the rate of inflation. Some failed to diversify their investments adequately. Over extended periods of time, retirement savings in a well-diversified mix of stocks of bonds has proven to be a wise choice.
Another area where boomers wish they had done better is that of consumer debt. Excess debt not only controlled their financial lives for many years but diminished their ability to save adequately for retirement. Now they continue for the rest of their lives to pay the cost of that debt.
Boomers often retired early, which robs them of saving more for retirement in peak earning years. Add to that the realization that they also under-estimated life expectancy which means they need more money. They are also finding non-financial regrets as they never really planned for what to do with their time in retirement. It is critical when someone retires to make sure they are retiring to something, not from something.
As boomers continue to age, they will find their lack of planning for age-related expenses will be a major problem. This includes planning for significantly increased medical costs and potential long-term care.
The two biggest failures are not saving enough and not understanding how much will be needed in retirement. If you’re a part of a post baby boomer generation, you would be wise to learn from the mistakes many baby boomers made.
Don Spencer is the church financial benefits consultant for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.