There are numerous studies out right now that show how unprepared Americans are for retirement. Indeed, it seems like there is no shortage of information about how we’re not saving enough for retirement, and how you likely won’t be able to retire when you want to.
In many cases, though, it’s not just about your lack of savings. You also need to consider your obligations. The more costs you have — especially regular expenses — the greater the strain on your budget. Before you retire, you need to consider how you can reduce costs as much as possible. Here are some obligations that might be keeping you from retirement:
Perhaps the biggest retirement killer is debt. When you have debt, a portion of your income is devoted to making payments every month. The higher your debt obligations, the more you pay — and the less income you have at your disposal. Making debt payments also results in more money going straight into someone else’s pocket in the form of interest charges. Debt costs a great deal, and the more you have, the less financial freedom you have to retire.
There’s a reason why almost-retirees of a certain age are being referred to as the “sandwich generation.” On the one hand, many people find that their adult children are moving back home with them. The tough economy means that sometimes these adult children are even married and have children. This adds a financial burden to your household.
On the other hand, though, many are also caring for aging parents. Even if your senior parents aren’t living with you, you might be providing some sort of financial support for them in terms of assisted living, or helping with groceries, or paying for in-home care.
When you have dependents, it can affect your ability to retire. Acknowledge these costs, and determine whether or not there is a way for you to get help for some of them, whether your boomerang kids pay a little rent from a part-time job to help alleviate the cost, or whether you ask your siblings to chip in to care for your parents, look for ways to discharge your duty in a way that doesn’t bankrupt you.
Many people experience life changes close to an expected retirement. Some of these life changes can include:
- Switching jobs
- Moving to a new city or state
- Losing your job before you are ready to quit
- Death of a loved one
All of these life changes can be costly, and can reduce your nest egg. Illness, or some kind of health condition can be especially difficult on your finances. When you consider health care costs, you might really find trouble paying for retirement. You will have to factor all of that in as you prepare to retire.
Now is the time to plan ahead as much as you can. Acknowledge some of your costs, and expected expenses. Also, try to take care of as many obligations as you can before you retire. In the case of debt, this is especially important. But consider your health care options now, and try to do what you can to increase your nest egg as much as possible.