Top Tips for Boomers Who Want to Shore Up Their Retirement

Baby Boomers have taken a lot of flak from young people, particularly for the impact that their financial choices have had on the economic and financial outlook for subsequent generations.

Yet even though they may be the last generation to reap the full benefits of Social Security, Baby Boomers aren’t as prepared for retirement as the younger generations assume. Many Boomers have underestimated what they need for retirement, haven’t allocated their investments properly and simply haven’t cobbled together enough.

“Boomers need to plan ahead and find out how to boost their retirement savings, either through Social Security maximization or saving more into their investments, and anticipate taxes – versus waiting until it is too late,” says Carlos Dias Jr., wealth manager at Excel Tax & Wealth Group in Lake Mary, Fla.

So are Boomers doomed to a difficult retirement? Read on to find out what they can do to remedy any bad retirement planning habits. (For related reading, see: How Boomers Will Change the Way Others Retire.)

Never Saved Enough

According to a 2015 survey from BlackRock, Boomers are severely behind in saving for retirement. The average Baby Boomer has a portfolio with only $136,200 – hardly enough for a generation that most experts agree should look to have $45,500 annually during retirement. At their current rate, Boomers will have less than $10,000 a year. Almost 75% of Boomers said they struggle with saving for retirement on top of other financial obligations. Less than a third say they are confident they’ll have enough to retire with.

Many have attributed the Boomers’ lack of retirement savings to being too conservative with investments. They currently hold too much of their savings in cash and cash equivalent investments instead of equities, which provide higher returns.

Boomers have also failed to save regularly; only 25% of Americans put aside money for retirement. While many of the problems Boomers face are related to more nuanced issues like investment misallocation, most have simply not put away enough money on a consistent basis.

There’s Hope

If you’re a Boomer, don’t panic. The fact that you’re financially savvy enough to be reading about investing puts you ahead of the game. So follow these tips to make the most of the years leading up to your retirement.

  • Play catch-up: Those age 50 and older can contribute extra money to their IRA and 401(k) plan funds. In 2016 and 2017, the catch-up limit is $1,000 for traditional and Roth IRAs and $6,000 for 401(k)s.

  • Get risky: One of the reasons Boomers have struggled is their unwillingness to invest in high-performing securities with more risk. They should put more of their funds in stocks and funds that will provide better returns than bonds and money market accounts.

  • Decrease expenses: One of the easiest ways to set aside more money for retirement is to cut expenses. Many Boomers are still living in the houses they bought when they had a large family; now would be a good time to downsize and use the savings to fund their nest egg.

  • Delay Social Security: Since many Boomers will depend on monthly Social Security payments, they should try to wait until age 70 to claim Social Security. Seniors who do this can expect an 8% annual increase in how much they receive, compared to those who take benefits at 66 years old. Is Delaying Social Security Until 70 Always a Good Idea? will give help you decide how well this could work for you.

  • Work part time: Instead of retiring and living on peanuts, Boomers who are able to should work part time to fund their retirement until they’ve saved enough to retire for good. They can use their years of expertise to consult or start a small business.

The Bottom Line

The retirement reality for most Boomers isn’t pretty, but that’s no reason to panic. There’s still time to shore up your investment allocation, cut your expenses and bulk up that nest egg. For most, implementing a few simple changes and adjusting expectations should have a major impact for the better. (For related reading, see: Top 10 Investments for Baby Boomers.)