Have you noticed how many lists there are for retirees? You’d think we retired folk no longer have an extensive To Do List, and that the world is trying to horn in on our agenda. For example, a list appears at least twice a day in my inbox, “The Top Ten Places to Retire”.
Don’t these publishers know I’m already retired? Maybe my neighbors want to get rid of me and one of them publishes these lists. I don’t know, but day after day, “The Top Ten Places to Retire” electronically appears. Sometimes the publishers of these lists tempt me with even more choices, “The Top Twenty-five Places to Retire.”
We senior citizens are bombarded by lists. “The Top Twenty-five Travel Destinations for 2018”, “The Top Ten Apps For Finding a Restroom in New York City”, “The Top Ten Lists For List-Deprived Retirees,” and “The Ultimate Bucket List” with its posting of 50 alleged adventures in case you haven’t thought of such things as #39, Christmas Shopping in New York City. (Don’t forget your app!)
I look at these lists and wonder if the publishers actually know anything about me. For I find that many retirement locations, travel destinations, extravagances, privileges, and bucket lists do not square with other articles that seem to know me well. Articles such as, “Ten Statistics That Prove Baby Boomers are in Big Trouble When It Comes to Retirement.”
Let me bore you with just two of these statistics. Only 24% of Baby Boomers are confident they will have enough savings to last throughout retirement. And Only 27% of Baby Boomers believe they will have enough money for healthcare expenses.
Stated another way, the first statistic says that 3 out of 4 of us Baby Boomers are NOT confident that we will have enough savings to last us throughout retirement. And how’s that working out for us? Any idea what the landlord’s going to do when the check bounces? Or the city when we can’t pay our property taxes? If we own a 1971 RV, will city zoning let us park it in a friend’s driveway and live in it?
A good question is where will the employment office send us to work? Walmart? Not all of us can stand and greet customers hour after hour. Starbucks? I’d get so confused that if someone came in and asked for a tall coffee, I’d actually serve it in the largest cup we had.
Stated another way, the second statistic above says that roughly 3 out of 4 of us Boomers don’t believe we have enough money for healthcare expenses. And how’s that working out? Any idea if we’ll be able to see a physician other than those who work at Doctor Kevorkian’s Clinic? I suppose we could always knock over a pharmacy for our prescription drug needs. Or just die in full view of everyone in the hospital lobby rather than out of sight in the emergency room. That’ll teach ‘em.
I’m trying to figure out what life’s going to be like these next few years. If you scroll down this article, “Ten Statistics That Prove Baby Boomers Are In Big Trouble When It Comes To Retirement”, you’ll see that Vanguard has a place on the list. It wants us to know that The average American in the 55-64 age group has a 401(k) balance of only $177, 805.
That would have sounded really good to me when I was 18-years old, but what about nowadays? I went to a financial advisor for an explanation of this statistic. He didn’t know why the k is in parentheses either, but he did know about something called the “4% rule” of retirement. This rule says that a retiree with the above 401(k) balance can withdraw about $7100 per year from this account without running out of money – assuming a bull market and that the retiree lives no longer than 30 more years, preferably five.
And when $7100 is added to this retiree’s social security each year, the sky’s the limit! This person or this couple – two can live as cheaply as one, right? – can visit all seven continents, go on safari, buy a second home abroad, have tea at the Ritz, take the grandchildren to Disneyland, go back to college, expand one’s art collection, and walk the trendy streets of Athens, GA in hopes of becoming or catching a glimpse of the next big act to take the world by storm!
Or, if he and/or she can elude local bill collectors, the closest city on “The Top Ten Places to Retire” might be a good place to move ASAP. Loading up the U-Haul at midnight is a romantic possibility for many a bucket list.
Still, if you remember your high school math – or if you can even remember going to high school – the average isn’t the same as the median. The average is found by dividing the sum of all 401(k) balances by the total number of people who own them. The median is the number that divides the range of all 401(k) account balances in two. In other words, exactly half of Baby Boomer 401(k)s are worth less than the median, exactly half are worth more. And the median 401(k) balance is just $71, 579. Half of us have less than this, half of us have more. And if you have this balance exactly, you can count on taking out $2858 per year or thereabouts so long as nothing goes wrong with the economy or your situation and you die on schedule.
And again, Chicken Little, you know how far $2858 will go when added to social security. The sky is…
It seems to me that the publishers of all these lists would have a much more attentive audience should they list more relevant concerns. How about “The Top Ten Tent Cities in Your State,” “The Top Ten Food Banks in Your City”, “The Next Ten Dates For a Free Dental Care Event,” and so on? Three out of four of us retirees know we won’t be having tea at the Ritz or be able to pay dental bills or find a restroom in New York City. Reading the lists that show up in our inboxes is basically a waste of time.
Or here’s an idea. Remember the old saying, “Avenge yourself…Live long enough to become a burden to your kids”?