April 22, 2020 | Wealth

Are you confident about retiring in comfort?

A careful strategy can help you generate the income you want

Veronica Rubio, SVP, Senior Private Wealth Advisor

Kathy Gamez, SVP, Senior Private Wealth Advisor

Once you reach a certain age, questions about retirement income can feel pretty urgent. With pensions declining,1 most Americans are turning to Social Security, personal savings, and home equity to fund their later years. But even if you have considerable assets in the savings and investments category, you likely still have a little anxiety about outliving your money or burning through assets you’d hoped to pass on.

The key question we hear when retirement approaches is, “How can I get the most income in retirement without outliving or overly depleting my money?”

Of course, there’s no easy or singular answer to that question. But holistic planning and a strategic approach can help you feel confident that you’re heading toward your financial goals and able to live the life you’ve imagined.

 

Planning

Most people—about 6 in 10, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)2—have no idea how much savings they’ll need for a comfortable retirement. Only 3 in 10 have even tried to figure out what they’d need for income, emergencies, or health expenses.

The good news is that, generally speaking, Americans are growing somewhat more confident in having a comfortable retirement, according to EBRI. About two-thirds of workers now feel somewhat (43%) or very (23%) confident in being able to live out their years comfortably.

How about you? If you recognize that gap between feelings (“I’m pretty confident”) and facts (“I don’t know how much I’ll need”), a financial professional can help. Step one is a plan based on your personal goals, investment plan, cash flow needs, and desire to leave a legacy. Step two is a multi-faceted strategic approach to generating income.

 

A bridge to security

A key focus in many retirement income plans? Social Security. Think of Social Security as an annuity that offers a monthly payment—adjusted annually for inflation—that lasts your entire life. And it doesn’t deplete your assets. You’d be hard pressed to buy any other annuity on these terms.

This is why many experts suggest making Social Security a central feature of your retirement income plan, even if you have plenty of assets.

You probably know that the longer you wait to claim Social Security, the higher your monthly payment could be. Indeed, waiting until the maximum age—70—could get you a check that’s 76% higher than starting Social Security at the minimum age of 62.

Maximizing the Social Security portion of your monthly income could help stabilize your income as you age, creating a more robust safety net for your future. This could not only reduce your worries about running out of money, but it might also make you feel more open to new investment strategies for your existing assets.

How to maximize Social Security? Some researchers say you could consider using a portion of your savings to delay Social Security to age 70. In effect, you would be “buying” a higher annuity income.

The Boston College Center for Retirement Research found that creating this kind of bridge to delay Social Security “provides the best outcome for households in the middle of the wealth distribution.” Even households at the 90th percentile of wealth “would benefit from additional annuitization, such as easy access to a deferred annuity.”3

These researchers offer several reasons you might find Social Security attractive even if you aren't a fan of commercial annuities. They say:

  • You don’t need to worry about an insurance company leaving the market or going bankrupt.
  • Social Security payments are adjusted for inflation, unlike virtually all other annuities.
  • Social Security benefit calculations are based on an average lifespan, while insurance companies tend to calculate on an above-average lifespan. This means that, all things being equal, the Social Security benefit would be somewhat higher than a commercial benefit.
  • Social Security isn’t in business to generate profits and please shareholders like a typical business.
  • Your Social Security payment may not be affected by low interest rates in the way typical retirement investment returns may be.
  • You could pay lower taxes.

Researchers at the Stanford Center on Longevity agree.4 In their words, "It makes sense for workers to maximize the value of this important benefit, usually by delaying the start of benefits for the primary wage-earner."

Of course, creating an income bridge to delay Social Security is just one strategy to create reliable income in retirement. To see which approaches might be best for you, come in and get to know an Umpqua financial professional like us. We'll look at your full financial picture and help you find the solution that supports your goals.

 

Learn more

Make sure you’re doing all you can to set yourself up for a comfortable, confident retirement. Contact an Umpqua financial professional today to discover more about our approach to financial planning.

Reach us at (833) 898-0973 or WealthManagement@UmpquaBank.com.

You can also learn more about setting priorities and simplifying your financial life by downloading our Umpqua topic paper, “Live well now. Retire well later.”

 

Sources

  1. Fast Facts #329. Employee Benefit Research Institute, June 6, 2019.
  2. RCS Retirement Confidence Survey. 2019 RCS Fact Sheet #3. EBRI/Greenwald Retirement Confidence Survey.
  3. How best to annuitize defined contribution assets? Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.
  4. How to “pensionize” any IRA or 401(k) plan. Stanford Center on Longevity.