Debunking 5 Common Retirement Myths

Written by James Clarke

While Americans know full well they have to save for retirement, many have some mistaken assumptions that could end up costing them money when they’re older. When it comes to crucial aspects like healthcare, for example, most couples don’t realize that they’ll need over $280,000 in retirement savings for healthcare costs. Beyond healthcare, there are many other retirement aspects that Americans are uninformed about and here we’ll cover 5 of them.

My Social Security and Pension Will Be Enough

Banking on your social security and pension to be enough to support you in retirement is a terrible misconception. When looking at the numbers, Social Security provides a third of the monthly income for most retirees at about $1,471. Despite this, 21% of retired couples and 45% of retired singles still depend on Social Security for 90% or more of their retirement income. You shouldn’t count on your pension too much either as both public and private pensions are in trouble. While some are at risk of going under, others have billions in shortfalls and won’t be paying as much as originally promised.

I Don’t Need to Plan for Retirement Just Yet

While most people know they have to start their retirement planning early they tend to put it off. CFP and financial educator, Joe Catanzarite warns that people don’t start retirement planning until it’s too late or something happens that sends them scrambling. This can lead to costly mistakes and reactionary buying of financial products that they may not need and don’t help create a plan for the future. Therefore, Catanzarite recommends you start planning early, listing your priorities and goals and seeking advice from a qualified planner.

Borrowing from My 401(k) is a Good Idea

Borrowing from your 401(k) should only be as a last resort. Investopedia notes that you could lose investment earnings on the money you’ve borrowed and repay the loan with after-tax dollars. Should you lose your job you’ll also have to repay the loan faster, during your next tax return. Thus, it’s a good idea to consider other avenues like short-term loans, or a title loan to avoid the headache of borrowing from retirement savings. With title loans in Ohio having only minimal requirements for borrowers such as a vehicle title for collateral, it’s a comparatively low-risk move compared to borrowing against your 401(k). Online options are available depending on the state, with loaners Highway Title Loans, for example, servicing borrowers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Utah, among others. With a short-term loan, you’ll also avoid potential penalties and tax implications associated with borrowing from tax-deferred investments.

I Won’t Have as Many Expenses

For mysterious reasons many Americans believe that their living costs will magically decrease by half when they retire. In fact, they could go up. You’ll still be paying for your home when you retire, and although your mortgage may be paid off, you’ll pay for insurance and property taxes. You’ll also need transportation, food, utilities and communications. Sure, you’ll spend less on fuel because you no longer have a daily commute but your car will still need insurance and possible repairs. As we mentioned above, healthcare could even make your living costs increase. Plan for maybe a 20% to 25% reduction at most.

I’m Going to Work After Retirement

Many people expect to continue to work during their retirement and two in three expect that work will be a major or minor source of income, based on a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). In reality, only half of those can do so and the rest leave the workforce due to job loss, and disability, among others. Therefore it is important to plan to retire 3 to 5 years before you think you will and delay taking Social Security benefits for as long as possible.

Call Me Grandpa

Three months ago my daughter proudly announced the arrival of Lucas – her son and therefore my grandson. He is her first child and more importantly our first grandchild! A cute little dude with big eyes and a smile that is going to get him into trouble when he grows up. He is already discovering the finer points of flirting.

It is hard to believe that little gremlin I used to carry in a backpack as we walked Capitola beach now has a gremlin of her own.

My daughter and her family live two hours south of us which is the perfect distance – close enough to reach via a moderate drive but not so close as to be easily accessible for short notice babysitting. Needless to say with the new addition we will likely head south more frequently – gotta be part of those memorable baby pictures.

It is exciting to be a grandpa. Years ago my wife and I talked about having grandkids. “Sometime down the road it will be wonderful.” Well that road has now been traveled and here we are.

As a novice grandpa I look forward to sharing new experiences with Loo, seeing the world through his eyes and being part of his excitement at all things new.

Sharing first time experiences

Loo (currently four months of age) recently visited Target for the first time and was pretty much overwhelmed – in a good way. The sights and sounds and smells, the chattering people – all interested in getting a closer look at him – and the bright colors, everything new and everything  exciting. I am sure his little heart was fluttering at full speed as he tried to take in all the stimuli. And we are only talking about a visit to Target!

I imagine his first visit to the zoo and the amazement he will feel with so many crazy and diverse and noisy critters to see.

What about his first taste of cotton candy? A gossamery wisp of sweetness that melts as it touches your tongue.

Something as simple as feeding a bluebird in the backyard will be an adventure for the first time feeder.

And his first pickle! Pickles are a tradition in our family. It is not unusual to see any of us comfortably seated in front of the TV whittling away at a massive dill. I await his expression when he first chomps into a juicy gerchin.
I believe seeing new experiences through the eyes of my grandson will allow me to appreciate the little things that much more. Everyday occurrences that become mundane can transform into miraculous events when realized from the perspective of a novice. Thank you in advance Loo for setting me straight.

A Grandpa’s responsibility

Parents have a tough job when it comes to raising children. Their job is 24/7. The child’s safety and future is in their hands. The person they will become is hugely determined by the example parents provide. Likes and dislikes, hopes and aspirations, prejudices and beliefs, all will be mirrored in the little person, that chip off the old block.

As a grandpa I survived the day-to-day stresses that come with providing for a family. Free of that burden I can focus on what matters most – at least in my opinion. I would share three wisdoms gleaned from my 61 years on this Earth:

Treat others the way you want to be treated – an oldie but goodie and applicable to all things. You are never too young to start living this.

Find something you love and follow it – in the end it is better to look back on a life spent doing what you are passionate about rather than tallying your bank balance. My son has worked his butt off for the past seven years to get a full time job caring for animals in the zoo. He majored in zoology and in a very competitive job market has shed blood, sweat and tears working for free or close-to-free to get his foot in the door. He recently secured a full time job at the Oakland Zoo and we are all ecstatic. It’s not just about money – it’s about getting up each morning looking forward to your day. Loo, take a lesson from your uncle and follow your dream.

Listen – with your mouth shut and your ears open it is amazing what you might learn. Chief Luther Standing Bear said,”Silence grants a space before talking was done in the practice of true politeness and regardful of the rule that thought comes before speech.” You cannot listen if you are talking.

We have been grandparents for four months. As a newbie to the game I can say that the experience is all we could have hoped for and imagined. Each smile on that little face brings an immediate smile to this old mug. To me there is no sweeter sound than his cooing whispers after a good meal, living in the moment without a fear in the world. It may have taken a while to get here but grandparenthood is good. We look forward to sharing what tomorrow brings in the everything-new never a dull moment life of our first grandson.

How to Prepare for a Recession During Retirement

Written by Jeremy Biberdorf

Preparing for a recession is something anyone getting ready for retirement should think about. You might have the perfect plan — but if a recession hits, your well-thought-out retirement fund may disappear faster than you had thought. The good news is there are several ways you can prepare for a recession comfortably.

1. Have an Emergency Fund

It is a wise idea to contribute an amount of money from each paycheck to your emergency fund. Even if it is not a lot, every bit counts. You and your financial advisor should decide how many months of living expenses you should save up.

Do not worry if you only have a small fund so far. Even if you only have a couple months of living expenses saved up, you still have a start. Consider keeping this emergency fund in a higher-interest savings account rather than a low-interest checking account so you earn some interest on it.

2. Stay in the Market

When the market takes a dip, your first impulse might be to sell everything and get out. But this may not be the best idea. Since many people are living longer, you will most likely need your money to last a while. Also, if you are not yet retired, you won’t need the money in your retirement portfolio. Retirement accounts can withstand more ups and downs for people who are not currently using the money and won’t need it for several years.

3. Diversify Your Savings

The closer you are to retiring, the more important it is to diversify your investments. You should never keep all your eggs in one basket because this presents a huge risk to your savings. If you have your portfolio spread around multiple sources, it is more likely that at least part of your portfolio will respond positively when the stock market is down.

One rule that many people used to use is the 60/40 rule, where 60 percent of your portfolio is invested in higher risk with a better return and 40 percent is invested in lower risk that does not pay as well. However, this rule may not be enough for people who are retiring soon. Historically, factors such as high equity valuations, low prices in commodities, and increased risks in bond funds have all served to make the 60/40 rule work. But now, you should consider an even broader mix of investments.

4. Manage Your 401(k)

It is best to think of your 401(k) as a long-term investment, which means it will experience fluctuations during market changes. And when the market is changing, you should not make major changes to your 401(k).

Maximizing your 401(k) savings now can help you save as much as possible. This is especially true if your employer offers matching contributions. Never forgo employer matching. This is free money and is one of the best ways to build retirement savings over time.

5. Pay Off Your Debt

It is especially important to pay off any remaining debt while you are still getting an income. When you are paying off your debts, you should never use your 401(k) to pay down debt.

Instead, building regular debt payments into your budget will help you get rid of debt without making your retirement savings suffer. It is a wise idea to plan to pay off a bit more of the debt each month than required. That way, when the debt is gone, you can invest the money you would have put toward your debt in your portfolio instead.

6. Earn Extra Income

More and more people are working part-time in retirement. Just because you are retired does not mean you have to sit around at home by yourself. Once you have more time, you may want to consider doing something fun, like pet-sitting or starting a small side business. You may even consider helping out at a local business. This extra income can help you supplement your retirement funds, especially in a recession.

7. Have Sources of Retirement Income

In an ever-changing market, not all your income sources are sure things. Having some stable sources of income during your retirement, such as annuities, pensions, and social security, will help ensure you are still getting an income, even if other parts of your portfolio fail. Strong dividend paying stocks are also wise to have as they are generally less volatile over time. There are plenty of dividend payers, such as Exxon and Procter & Gamble, that have paid out a solid dividend for decades without ever cutting their dividends.

8. Work with an Expert

Navigating retirement savings can be tricky, especially when the market is uncertain. Luckily, you do not have to do it alone. A financial advisor can understand your financial goals and guide you to options that will help you reach them. They can also help you make wise financial decisions. For example, if the market suddenly goes downhill, a financial advisor can encourage you to avoid making the mistake of panicking and selling immediately.

If you decide not to go with a financial advisor, many other options can guide you through retirement planning during a recession. For example, retirement blogs and forums can be an excellent place to connect with others planning for retirement and to gain invaluable advice. You can also look into retirement planning apps to help you in your journey.

9. Do It Yourself Retirement Planning

There are a lot of great online financial and retirement planning tools available to do-it-yourself types. Serious financial and retirement planning software was once only the realm of financial advisors. But that is no longer true. A financial and retirement planning application called WealthTrace allows consumers to create their own sophisticated financial and retirement plan. Consumers can also run a lot of different what-if scenarios, including what happens to their retirement portfolio during a recession.


Following these tips can give you peace of mind during any recession. Managing your finances wisely and saving up for a rainy day will help you comfortably get through any tough times up ahead.