70% of retirees wish they had started saving for retirement sooner

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The number one piece of advice retirees would pass on to their younger selves is simple: start saving for retirement sooner.

About 70% of retirees said changing their habits to save or invest more and sooner is the best advice they would give their younger selves, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s Retirement Readiness Survey.

The report surveyed more than 1,100 Americans age 55 and older with wealth of at least $50,000 in April and May this year.

“We hear that all the time,” said Shweta Lawande, a board-certified financial planner and senior consultant at Francis Financial, a New York-based firm.

In addition, about half of those surveyed said they had made certain changes earlier to improve their current financial situation. This included being more aggressive with their investments, spending less, saving more, and working with a financial advisor to have a solid plan for retirement.

Retirees didn’t anticipate “the severity of inflation.”

One of the reasons many retirees are feeling down right now is high inflation.

The US is experiencing the highest inflation in 40 years, which is driving up the prices of almost every necessities of life, from housing to food in restaurants and grocery stores to gasoline, cars and travel.

More than half of respondents cited inflation as the top financial concern keeping them up at night in retirement, according to the survey. That outpaced other major issues like healthcare spending, medical bills and concerns about running out of money.

“Many of the retirees we spoke to didn’t anticipate the severity of inflation,” said Bridget Bearden, research and development strategist at the Employee Benefit Research Institute. “And it’s only gotten worse since then.”

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What younger investors can learn from retirees

It’s important for younger investors to acknowledge the regrets of current retirees and what they think they’ve done well financially.

If you start saving and investing for retirement as early as possible, you can be ready to stop working sooner. Having more time to spend money in the stock market, to appreciate it, and to reap the benefits of compound growth can be of great help in reaching your financial goals.

“We cannot underestimate the power of time,” said Lawande.

It’s also helpful to exercise discipline with older investors who have been through many market cycles.

“Being able to apply context to investing is so powerful,” Lawande said, adding that younger clients are actually more likely to reach out during downturns because they’re worried about the money they have in the stock market.

“Don’t react to what you see in the market, don’t react out of fear, trust the ship you’ve built,” she said.

While the most common advice was to start earlier, there were also things that retirees felt were right about preparing for retirement, and about 40% said they ultimately wouldn’t change a thing about their preparation. About 14% said they were glad they saved, and 10% specifically mentioned saving into an employer-sponsored 401(k) or 403(b) retirement plan.

Additionally, retirees cited using an individual retirement plan, paying down debt, and buying, paying off, or selling a home as sound financial moves.

People who have worked with financial advisors also generally felt more prepared for retirement and had less financial stress – 90% said the value of professional advice outweighs the cost. It can also help younger customers to benefit from generational wealth.

“We consultants do not lose the advantage of perspective,” said Lawande.

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https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/25/most-retirees-wish-they-started-saving-for-retirement-earlier.html 70% of retirees wish they had started saving for retirement sooner

Drew Weisholtz

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