Boomers Turning Frugal, Anticipating Sparse Retirement
They’re expecting it, because of all they’ve endured during the Great Recession and its wake—a retirement that might not be all that comfortable. And they’re cutting back accordingly.
Boomers, according to a CBS Moneywatch report, have been feeling the pinch since the global financial crisis, and close to two thirds feel they personally have not thrived financially. The Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement study cited in the report finds that, among boomers who feel that way, more than half say that their savings are lower today than they were before the financial crisis.
The study also finds that boomers aren’t just sitting still waiting for the roof to fall in; they’re taking various actions to improve their financial situation—cutting spending and working on their portfolios. But it’s too soon to tell whether what they’re doing will be enough to see them through.
The Bankers Life study finds that inflation-adjusted median household income in the U.S. fell by nearly 7% from 2007 to 2010. And if that’s not enough bad news, the median net worth of middle-income households also dropped—by a whopping 39 percent—from 2007 to 2010.
And, thanks to the housing crisis, homeowners lost an average of 55% of their home’s value between 2007 and 2010. And that could be the unkindest cut of all, since a recent study from the Boston College Center for Retirement Studies finds that that’s where most middle-income Americans have half, or even a majority, of their wealth—in home equity rather than in financial assets.
And once burned, twice shy; Bankers Life finds that two thirds of boomers fear another financial crisis during their lifetimes—not surprising, considering how many market meltdowns there have been over the past 30 years.
So what are boomers doing about it? Well, 84% are managing their spending; 74% are reviewing their investment behavior; 48% expect to work at least part time in retirement; 34% are focusing on retiring debt free; 28% are putting together an emergency fund; and 17% are putting away a larger percentage of their paychecks than pre-financial crisis.
That said, a quarter of boomers aren’t investing any more at all.
Retirees are pulling in their belts, too, with the Bankers Life study reporting that 54% have reduced their discretionary spending; 47% have reduced their regular monthly expenses; 35% created a household budget; and 34 percent give less to family, friends or charity.
Almost four in 10 middle-income boomers expect Social Security to provide the majority of their retirement income—that’s considerably more than prior to the Great Recession, when fewer than one out of three expected to rely on it so heavily.
But since Social Security is supposed to be a safety net, rather than a main means of support, they’re liable to be in for some hard times—particularly in the current political climate.
They may not be doing so already, but the report suggests that not only should boomers consider such options as reverse mortgages and postponing collection of Social Security benefits till they hit 70, when benefits will be at their highest level.
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