While people of all ages should take retirement saving seriously, for Baby Boomers who are either already or very near retirement age, this aspect of financial planning is even more crucial. Unfortunately, many Boomers don’t appear to be on a great path when it comes to saving for their retirement. A report by the Stanford Center on Longevity found that as of 2014, one-third of them had saved nothing in retirement accounts, while 59 percent of Americans fear running out of money in retirement more than death, according to AIG's 2019 Plan for 100 Survey.
The truth is that a shifting financial landscape could mean a different retirement picture for many people — one that may still include some form of employment — but there are still some things that employers can do now to help steer Baby Boomer employees toward a path that might include a more traditional — and financially stable — retirement.
Option 1: Provide free financial resources that focus primarily on retirement goals.
It’s hard to turn on the news these days without hearing about how much money we all need to have saved for retirement. For example, most experts say your retirement income should be about 80 percent of your final pre-retirement salary. This number can sound daunting, and may be why approximately 51 percent of Americans feel uncertain that their current retirement savings plans will provide for them financially if they were to live to 100 years old, according to the AIG study. With those generalities in mind, Boomers may think traditional retirement isn’t an option, without ever really stopping to consider what it would actually take — financially — to do so.
The first step toward planning for a future that includes retirement is coming up with an actual ballpark figure that would be necessary to maintain a certain lifestyle for an estimated number of years after the main source of income stops coming in. Employers that provide free workshops with financial experts and that share literature that points employees toward online retirement calculators can help them come up with some actual numbers and start developing a real plan. Providing resources that further explain how programs like Medicare work and what the costs might be can help Boomers create a more holistic goal for retirement, as well.
Option 2: Regularly go over retirement package benefits and updates.
Besides the steady paycheck, one of the other great benefits of being an employee is … well … the benefits! Employees who aren’t aware of all the retirement options available to them through their company may miss out on great savings opportunities. Employers can help ensure this doesn’t happen by routinely providing workshops that go over all their retirement offerings. This can include pointing out benefits like life insurance and retirement accounts, any matches offered, the ability to put more income in to play catch-up after a certain age, and how an employee would actually go about drawing from the account, as well as at what age they can do so without penalty. It also helps to point out any other ways that employees might be able to save or grow their money even more, possibly through things like stock or vesting options with the company.
Option 3: Point out additional company resources that already exist.
Participants in the AIG Plan for 100 study cited "serious health problems" as their greatest worry about living to 100. Factoring for future health issues can potentially mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in healthcare costs, yes, but there are some ways to prepare financially. Employers can start by pointing out the resources that are already at their employees’ disposal to help. For example, a Health Savings Account may allow them to save in a tax-advantaged account now for qualified medical expenses that they can use in retirement. Providing and encouraging healthy employee-sponsored activities — like literature, services and even healthy competitions to help people quit smoking and develop fitness routines — can also help employees start building a healthier foundation today so they hopefully have fewer healthcare needs in retirement. It also helps to point them to outside resources that can help them get a better handle on what their healthcare costs could potentially look like in retirement, like the AARP Health Care Costs Calculator.
Option 4: Discuss ways they can save when they’re actually in retirement.
With a little digging, there are some ways to save on certain costs associated with retiring. For example, borrowing short-term medical equipment may save on the cost of items that are only needed for a brief period of time, like a wheelchair or walker. Meanwhile, community organizations often offer additional low-cost or free resources or classes specifically for seniors to help with health issues. Employers can point out these cost-saving mechanisms ahead of time so employees are able to start researching what works best for them, should the time come that they ever need to use them.
Retirement is supposed to be a time filled with adventure and leisure, loved ones and relaxation. Reaching that ultimate goal doesn’t have to be scary, financially, but it does take some planning. For Baby Boomers who haven’t started yet, the time is now. Employers can help their employees — particularly those nearing retirement age — better prep for what’s ahead by pointing out all the options that can help them save more now, as well as spend less when they actually reach retirement.