Do you remember how old you were when you started thinking about retirement and the life you wanted to lead in retirement? What about Social Security? You know, the money that comes out of your paycheck that’s supposed to take care of you once you’re retired? Well, hopefully, you don’t believe that last sentence there. We don’t want you to think you can retire on Social Security alone. In fact, we want to discuss why you should plan to do the exact opposite.
In this post, we want to discuss:
- Our Early Thoughts On Retirement
- The Social Security Benefit
- Retirement Expenses
- Our Thoughts On Retirement Now
- Why Social Security Isn’t Enough For Retirement
- Final Thoughts
Kim’s Early Thoughts On Retirement
I’m not going to lie. Growing up I didn’t think about retirement at all. What kid does? By the time I realized what the word retirement even meant, it seemed like something that would still be in my very far future.
As a young adult, it still wasn’t on my mind until around the time that I graduated college and got my first “real” job. Like most people, I received information about investing in the company’s 401(k).
Investing sounded like it was something good to do considering the brief conversations I had with coworkers who were around my age. And I did recall some talk in the past about, “Oh. You young people won’t even have Social Security when y’all get old. It will have run out by then.” Go figure.
At that time, I figured out how much to invest by investing whatever the amount was that the company would match, which was 3%. I made a call to the investment company to figure out what to invest in. And that was the beginning of my journey with investing because there wasn’t going to be any Social Security when I got old. * insert side eye *
Omar’s Early Thoughts On Retirement
In college, I sort of instinctively knew I had to have something saved. It’s why I kept $1000 to $2000 in my savings account. I got this money from the school, but it wasn’t from a loan or anything and they didn’t want it back. This money was used for car repairs, books, and unforeseen expenses. I would dip into that fund to help Kim with car repairs when we were dating in college as well. Honestly though, back then, investing was just a vague term for what rich people did to make money. I thought I had to have huge sums of money to even get started. Since huge sums of money weren’t in my future (lol) I didn’t think I had access to even start. Talk about self-limiting beliefs. Smh.
When I graduated and got my first real job I did invest in my 401K. I had no idea what I was doing though. To this day, I couldn’t tell you what I was invested in. I did manage to save up $3K in retirement in my first year at my job. And then I was laid off. I would later use that retirement money to pay off the last of my debt. This caused a hefty tax bill. Lesson learned there.
I didn’t really learn about investing until 4 years later. I found the blog ‘Get Rich Slowly’ and after scouring that website I found this post. This was the beginning of my real education about investing.
The Social Security Benefit And Retirement Expenses
Considering that most Americans live paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford to cover an emergency more than $1000, it comes as no surprise that Americans have little to no money saved for retirement. And this just won’t cut it considering the average monthly Social Security benefit and average retirement expenses. Don’t believe us? Let’s look at some numbers.
Average Monthly Social Security Benefit
The average monthly Social Security benefit can vary from person to person, but it averages around $1400 per month, which is $16,800 per year per person. And depending on the amount, it can be taxable of course. When you decide to retire can also affect how much Social Security benefit you will receive. If you take early retirement (before age 65) you will receive less than if you take a late retirement.
$16,800 for Social Security benefit per year. Let that number sink in. Because more than likely you’re currently making more than that right now. And if you have a spouse, you can double that number to $33,600 per year.
Average Retirement Expenses
Given the average Social Security benefit, you also must take into consideration retirement expenses. These numbers can vary from person to person as well, but here are the average retirement expenses per month according to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2016).
- Housing is the biggest chunk of money in all the categories, especially if you still have a mortgage. Housing costs also include property taxes, insurance, utilities, and repairs/maintenance.
- The next big chunk is transportation, which includes insurance, gas, and maintenance/repairs.
- Although there’s Medicare to help cover the costs, there’s still an out-of-pocket expense. And this number typically increases as you get older.
- This one is pretty self-explanatory.
Notice that this list of expenses only includes necessities. It doesn’t account for any type of leisure activities or donations of any sorts. The total of the above expenses alone is $34,452.
Regardless of if you’re single or married in retirement, you would be in the negative based on a Social Security benefit of $16,800 per person and expenses of $34,452.
Our Thoughts On Retirement Now
Given what we’ve learned, the statistics, and even people we know personally or otherwise, it’s obvious that we must do something in regards to saving for retirement. And honestly, it’s not just something. We have to plan to cover most of our retirement costs because Social Security isn’t going to cut it.
Why Social Security Isn’t Enough For Retirement
If the above numbers aren’t enough to convince you why Social Security isn’t enough for retirement, let’s dig a little deeper. As stated before, the above expenses don’t account for any leisure activities or donations of any sorts. So, that would make for a less than thrilling retirement. It also didn’t account for any type of debt (with the exception of a mortgage and/or car payment depending on how much they are).
The closer and closer you get to retirement age and still have debt, the more your expenses will clearly outweigh your Social Security income. You might be looking at having to retire later than 65, if you can retire at all, just to make ends meet.
Regardless of when people start to think of retirement, they begin to imagine what life will be like after they stop working. And they think about all the possibilities of the things they want to do with their free time. But who would want to go into retirement broke or facing the fact that they can’t ever retire or enjoy retirement as they envisioned? This is why you must plan for retirement sooner rather than later.
We’re not sure what the average age is when people usually start to think about planning for retirement, but one thing we’re sure about is… The earlier, the better. The earlier you get out of debt and stay out of debt, the better. The earlier you start thinking about and planning for retirement outside of Social Security, the better. At this point, you’re probably wondering, “Well they said all of this, but haven’t mentioned what to do to plan for retirement.” That’s where our next post comes in because we don’t want to make this one too long. But it’s focused around one word… INVEST.