Lie #1: I can’t afford to save now, but I’ll definitely get serious in the future. The problem with this justification is that it may take longer to get started than you think. If you think getting a late start saving for retirement of just six years is no biggie, think again. A 26-year-old who makes $40,000 a year, gets 2% annual raises, saves 15% of yearly pay and earns 6% annually on his savings would accumulate a nest egg of just under $1.2 million by age 65. If that person waits six years until age 32 to get started, his nest egg would total roughly $855,000. That’s $345,000, or almost 30%, less for missing just those initial six years.
Lie #2: If I fall behind, I’ll make up for it with higher investment returns. This rationale sounds convincing enough, but it implies you have control over how much your investments earn. Unfortunately, you don’t. While you likely can improve investing results by keeping your fees low, you’re still pretty much at the mercy of whatever raw returns the financial markets deliver, which many pros expect to be considerably lower than they were in the past.
Lie #3: I don’t need to do a full-fledged retirement check-up. I have a pretty good feel for where I stand without crunching the numbers. Really? So you can assess in your head how much the savings you’ve already accumulated will grow between now and the time you retire plus how much you’ll save over the rest of your career will add to that amount, and then gauge the probability that that the sum of those figures will be able to support you over a retirement that could last upward of 30 years. Fact is, the only way you can realistically gauge whether you’re on track toward a secure retirement—or, if you’re already retired, see whether you’re spending down your nest egg at a sustainable rate—is to plug information about your savings and investments into a retirement income analyzer that can estimate your odds of retirement success.
Lie #4: If all else fails, I’ll just work in retirement. Again, this assertion seems plausible at first glance. Indeed, the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s 2016 Retirement Confidence Survey reports that 67% of workers are planning to work for pay in retirement. But just as there’s a disconnect between when people say they’ll start saving for retirement and when they actually do, so too is there a gap between the number of people who claim they’ll work in retirement and how many actually do. And in fact, the EBRI survey finds that only 27% of retirees have actually worked for pay in retirement.