Finding a way to retire is hard enough in the best of times. Scrimping and saving your way to a decent-sized nest egg is perhaps the biggest financial challenge most of us will ever face.
Unfortunately, there are many obstacles outside our control that make it even more difficult to retire.
Recently, the National Institute on Retirement Security polled more than 1,200 Americans and asked them to name the biggest factors that contribute to their struggle to prepare for retirement.
Following are the biggest stumbling blocks cited by the survey respondents.
8. The stock market is more volatile
Respondents who believe this issue is making it harder to retire: 33%
Is the stock market really more volatile? It’s doubtful. The market has always had ups and downs. It’s the nature of investing.
However, you can’t blame people for thinking investing has been a little scarier lately. The past two decades have seen two major bear markets, and one smaller bear last year. Sharp downturns like that feel awful, especially considering that — the 1987 crash notwithstanding — the 1980s and 1990s were largely free of such plunges.
But in truth, it was the ’80s and ’90s that were the anomaly, not what we’ve seen more recently. To get the rewards from investing in stocks, you’ll need to endure a lot of bumps along the road to retirement. If stock investing frightens you, check out “7 Ways to Slay Your Fear of the Stock Market.”
7. Most workers must DIY their retirement savings
Respondents who believe this issue is making it harder to retire: 45%
Hoping someday you’ll win the lottery? Or that some long lost, rich distant cousin will have pity and leave you a couple of million in her will?
For the vast majority of us, either scenario is vanishingly unlikely. If we want a good retirement, we have to fund it and manage it for ourselves. Nobody is going to magically appear and teach us the secret to getting rich.
Well, almost nobody. You still have your friends at Money Talks News. If you are lost about how to save for a rewarding retirement, check out the Money Talks News’ retirement course, The Only Retirement Guide You’ll Ever Need.
This 14-week boot camp is intended for those who are 45 or older. It maps everything you need to get to the promised land of retirement.
6. Increasing debt
Respondents who believe this issue is making it harder to retire: 47%
For generations now, Americans have struggled to stay on top of their debts. Clearly, a large number of the survey respondents find themselves in this boat, with nearly half citing debt such as student loans, housing or credit card debt as a major roadblock in their journey toward retirement.
In some cases, debt can become overwhelming. If you feel like you are too deep in the hole of financial obligations to ever get out, visit Money Talks News’ Solutions Center and search for professional debt help.
If you still believe you can manage debt on your own, discover resources that can help in “7 Great Tools to Help You Get Out of Debt.”
4. Salaries are not increasing (tie)
Respondents who believe this issue is making it harder to retire: 51%
Numerous studies have found that middle-class wage growth has slowed in recent decades. About half of survey respondents believe this fact has made it more difficult to secure a prosperous retirement.
If you feel like you are underpaid, you can search for a new job, or maybe even pursue an alternate career path. But before doing so, consider simply asking for a raise at your current job. As you prepare to negotiate, be sure to read “10 Tips to Remember When Asking for a Raise.”
4. Fewer people have pensions (tie)
Respondents who believe this issue is making it harder to retire: 51%
Employer-sponsored pensions have largely disappeared from the workplace, at least in the private sector. The burden of saving for retirement is now squarely on the shoulders of workers themselves. About half of survey respondents clearly lament this trend.
In today’s world, you have to create your own self-financed pension plan. Most people do that by saving in a workplace retirement account, such as a 401(k). And some of these workers actually do better than they would with a traditional pension.
To learn more about how they’ve done it, check out “7 Secrets You Should Learn From 401(k) Millionaires.”
3. People are living longer
Respondents who believe this issue is making it harder to retire: 53%
Living longer is a double-edged sword. Yes, you get to enjoy life on this planet for a few more years. But an expanded lifespan also means a longer retirement that you’ll need to finance.
It’s important to remember, however, that this is a good problem to have. It sure beats the alternative!
If you are daunted by the prospect of financing decades of retirement, stop by Money Talks News’ Solutions Center and search for a financial adviser who can help you build a nest egg that will keep you solvent until the very end.
2. Rising cost of long-term care
Respondents who believe this issue is making it harder to retire: 56%
Long-term care costs can quickly crack even a large nest egg. Survey respondents know this, with more than half worrying about how they will finance such care if they eventually need it.
This is a tricky subject. Some financial experts recommend buying long-term care insurance to protect your finances should you ever need this care. Other experts aren’t so sure. Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson offers his take in “Should I Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?”
1. Rising cost of health care in retirement
Respondents who believe this issue is making it harder to retire: 59%
A large majority of survey respondents — nearly 60% — worry about the rising cost of health care and how it will impact their ability to retire. Surprisingly, numerous studies over several years have found that the biggest cost in retirement — by far — is actually housing, which didn’t even make this list. So, give a lot of thought to how you will finance housing costs.
With that out of the way, you can turn to health care costs, which indeed are a burden for many retirees. If you are already in retirement, chances are good that you are on Medicare. To learn more about making this program work for you, check out:
If you are still working and planning for retirement, stuffing money into a health savings account today is a great — and, sadly, overlooked — way to prepare for health care costs in retirement. You need to have a high-deductible health insurance plan to qualify, but if you do, the rewards can be enormous in your golden years.
For more on HSAs, check out “Many Seniors Overlook This Unique Retirement Option.”
And if an HSA sounds right for you, read about MTN contributor Miranda Marquit’s good experience with one HSA provider, Lively. She writes about it in “3 Ways a Health Savings Account Can Improve Your Finances.”
Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.