UPDATE: This person asked the internet if it was necessary to save so much for retirement -- the response was surprising
By Alessandra Malito, MarketWatch
Maybe people do prioritize saving for old age
When VintageBurtMacklin, as the Reddit user goes by, asked why everyone is advised to "save so much for retirement" -- and if it is really the right move -- the commenters of the personal finance thread of the online discussion site responded in full force.
Apparently, they have been paying attention to the news of the looming retirement crisis affecting the country.
VintageBurtMacklin shared his scenario (https://www.reddit.com/r/personalfinance/comments/6sm4n6/why_save_so_much_for_retirement/): he took a new job after welcoming a new baby, and analyzed his budget, keeping in mind the typical advice that retirement savings should be maxed out before moving on to other financial goals, such as paying off a house or saving for college and new cars. "While I understand the importance of saving for retirement, it seems to me that saving 12% of my pre-tax income will generate more than enough savings for our retirement goals," the Redditor said. He is 25, earns $80,000, expects to retire at 65 with a 6% estimated return and is contributing $900 a month before the 4% employer match -- that would leave him with about $2.5 million, or about $75,000 withdrawn annually, he estimated). He wondered if prioritizing retirement was the right decision, or "overkill."
See: Money Milestones: This is how your finances should look in your late 20s (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/money-milestones-this-is-how-your-finances-should-look-in-your-late-20s-2017-05-16)
He got his answer. Reddit users took to the platform reminding him of other expenses he's not considering, such as possible illness, job loss, divorce, a stock market crash, health care (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/you-might-need-nearly-350000-to-pay-for-health-care-costs-in-retirement-2017-02-02) and other long-term care planning (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-retirement-cost-is-inevitable-and-can-be-insanely-expensive-2017-08-09), and even taking care of parents (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-to-make-sure-that-caring-for-a-family-member-doesnt-ruin-your-life-2017-05-04) when they get older (caregiving is not just a physically demanding role, but a financially demanding one).
"Your calculations are figured for perfection," one user wrote. "Also remember your kids can borrow for college but you can't borrow for retirement." They also tore into his estimations -- explaining that interest rates are just coming from all-time lows and that there is no guarantee he will see a 6% annual return for the next 40 years. "How does your planning work out if the market returns 3% per year in real terms?"
Other commenters added that there are so many unknowns in the next four decades. "I think it's good to maximize retirement savings when you can as there may be periods of your life where you're unable to do so for one reason or another," SpidermansMom said. People shared personal stories: that user said her husband fell ill and lost his job, and they suddenly went from two salaries to one. He was too sick to watch their son, who stayed in day care, and she couldn't save as much for retirement, but felt comforted by the fact they had been maxing out their retirement plans for years before.
Another user said his perception of his retirement changed after his dad died at 69 and he realized he'd personally rather have 15 solid years of retirement compared with his father, who only had three. Another shared that his father made $150,000 a year but today is unemployed with no money. "Fortunes change," user palsh7 wrote. "Don't assume anything. If you're still feeling good at 55, by all means, cut back, but right now you want to invest."
The notion of saving for retirement isn't lost on VintageBurtMacklin, or the people who responded to his post, but that's not the case for everyone. Americans are drastically under-saving (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-amount-of-americans-not-saving-for-retirement-is-even-worse-than-you-thought-2017-02-21) for the later years of their lives, and need to take into consideration other expenses they may face when they become a senior citizen (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-is-what-you-should-be-saving-for-in-your-old-age-2017-06-01). Not all baby boomers are well equipped for their retirement (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/where-did-baby-boomers-go-wrong-this-generation-isnt-financially-prepared-for-retirement-2017-07-05), even though it's coming soon: the generation born between 1946 and 1964 expect they'll have $658,000 in their employer-sponsored retirement plans by the time they retire (though the average in those plans is $263,000), according to a Legg Mason survey. Older baby boomers, between 65 and 74, have about $300,000.
Millennials like VintageBurtMicklin, on the other hand, have time on their sides, but many are paying off student debt, balancing other financial responsibilities and questioning if it's really worth saving just a few bucks every month for their retirement. (The answer: It is (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/millennials-face-a-depressing-conundrum-is-it-worth-saving-5-a-month-for-retirement-2017-02-24).)
Ultimately, VinatgeBurtMicklin was convinced to keep maxing out his retirement savings for now and re-asses when retirement got closer or another life circumstance arose.
"I need to remember that as life changes, I can adjust my contribution levels," he said. "Contributing the most now makes the most sense, both considering my financial/family position and the value of compound interest."
-Alessandra Malito; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires