The importance of 'do it yourself' retirement

Published: Wednesday, June 12 2013 5:11 p.m. MDT

Retiree Robert Rivers poses at his home in Ravena, N.Y., in this photo takenThursday, March 24, 2011. Baby boomers are starting to retire but many are agonizing about their finances and, like Rivers, believe they’ll need to work longer than they anticipated an AP-LifeGoesStrong.com poll shows. Barely over half, 55 percent, voice confidence that they will have a comfortable retirement, including only 11 percent who say they are strongly convinced of it. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Mike Groll, AP

Retirees in the state of Utah only make 57.3 percent of what their younger counterparts earn, according to a new study by Interest.com. Even though Utah’s average closely resembles the national mean, it has some analysts concerned.

According to Bankrate.com, retired senior citizens — or those 65 years and older — should be averaging an income of 70 percent of their earnings during full-time employment. This theory purports that a retirement income of 70 percent of their previous income would provide retirees with enough financial stability to assure a reasonably comfortable retirement.

Most of the country’s retirees, however, fail to meet this mark. As the Deseret News reported today, nearly 50 percent of American seniors are considered to be financially vulnerable by the Economic Policy Institute. Interest.com’s recent study exposes one of the key causes of their weakness: poor retirement planning.

“More than half of all retirees depend on Social Security for their primary source of income,” Mike Sante, managing editor of Interest.com, said in an interview with the Deseret News.

Sante believes that American retirees’ heavy reliance on Social Security is understandable but ultimately dangerous.

“If you sit down and think about it, (Social Security is) not enough. We really need to have a safe and secure retirement, so we need to have more income than that.”

While it is certainly important to recognize the needs of today’s retirees, Sante believes the research will be used best to wake up future generations to the realities of modern retirement.

“Today’s retirees didn’t save enough: The question is whether tomorrow’s will. This is an age of do it yourself retirement,” he said.

Sante also believes that “do it yourself retirement” is not out of reach for most working Americans. By increasing contributions to a 401(k) fund until it maxes out, aging generations can set themselves up for a stable retirement.

“Folks who have the kind of retirement they want to have will tell you ‘I maxed out my 401(k)’ and they probably did it in their 40s or 50s,” he said.

“No one else is worried about your retirement anymore,” Sante continued. “This is a responsibility that has been put on the shoulders of the individual. They will be grateful in their retirement years for every dollar they save today.”

JJ Feinauer is a graduate of Southern Virginia University and an intern for the Moneywise page on DeseretNews.com. Email: jfeinauer@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: @johnorjj.

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