First, the good news: 68% of respondents to the 2017 Wells Fargo Retirement Study say they are prepared for retirement, and 34% of workers age 30-plus say retirement is a top priority.
Unfortunately, there’s some bad along with the good: 72% of respondents wish they’d started saving earlier, and 30% report they won’t have saved enough to live on in retirement.
What can we learn from these numbers? Here, Donna Peterson, Retirement Income Strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors, outlines four of the top lessons retirees can teach the rest of us.
Retiree Lesson 1: Expect some surprises
Real-life twists and turns can impact even the most prepared among us. The survey reports that 51% of retirees had to stop working earlier than expected, for example, and 36% say their standard of living dropped when they retired.
“Even the best-laid plans may experience changes over time,” Peterson says. “Being forced into early retirement due to company downsizing can have a big impact on retirement finances, as can losing a spouse, caring for an aging parent, having children move back into your home, or facing a serious health condition.” Your financial advisor can help you minimize — or navigate — these uncertainties and help you take any necessary actions to potentially improve your retirement outlook.
Retiree Lesson 2: Be consistent with your 401(k) or other employer plan
A whopping 89% of American workers report they wouldn’t have saved as much without a 401(k) plan, according to the Wells Fargo research. A 401(k) plan often offers ways to develop consistency in saving through automatic enrollment and payroll deductions. The lesson here? Save as much as you can and make contributions to your retirement funds as consistently as possible.