Lack of retirement savings affecting people in ENC

GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) - Numbers show quite pointedly that most Americans are not saving enough money for retirement. Our lives are busy -- many of us are running around all the time chasing our children, sometimes our parents and our own dreams.

Studies show that many of us are doing this while living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to put money away, but as a society, its catching up with us and pushing the idea of retirement further and further away.

The Economic Policy Institute reported in 2016 that the median family between ages 32-61 has only $5,000 in a retirement account and nearly half of all work-age families had zero retirement savings.

"It's a crisis, I don't think its too strong of a word when you look at all of the information, any objective information," said Cameron Evans of Evans Wealth & Asset Management in Greenville.

Evans runs his own business helping people prepare their long-term finances. He says the reality is that he's surprised when he meets someone who is adequately preparing.

"I think (people) feel overwhelmed and they say 'I'm just not going to do anything,'" he said.

One article Evans cited said that 'about half of all baby boomers have less than $100,000 in retirement savings and nearly one-third of them have less than $50,000.

Those numbers don't surprise him.

At the Pitt County Senior Center, Council on Aging Director Rich Zeck sees what retirement-without-savings looks like day in and day out.

"It's hard when you're 20 or 30 or even 40 to think of what's going to happen at 75 and when the statistics are showing the little bit of improvement from a 20-year-old to a 30-year-old to start putting away some small amounts to prepare for that, we're so short-sighted on what we need to do to survive today that we're not thinking about that future and we're seeing the seniors today that are having some serious physical issues, the isolation, the lonliness, the depression, which adds to that whole healthcare picture because of money," Zeck said.

Zeck says that $6,000/month is not uncommon for retirement home costs, but the specific amount of retirement savings each individual, couple or family needs can vary widely depending on specific circumstances.

"In the old days, you worked to retire. You built up a pension, you prepared for retirement and you retired when you were 60-years-old and life was going to be good but now the issue with retirement not being available for people because they don't have pensions because the jobs are changing so much and the pensions are not putting away or 401s, they're not saving for retirement, they believe that maybe their Medicare is going to be enough to retire on and when you start looking at health environments, whether it be nursing homes or whatever, Medicare is not going to get you anything," Zeck said.

"The first question is going to be, 'do I have enough?' ... if you had a crystal ball, that would be pretty easy, you know are you going to end up in assisted living? Are you going to need skilled care, you know you're talking $250 a day..." says Kelly Kurz, who volunteers time at the Pitt County Senior Center working as a daily money manager for the elderly and their families.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average 65-or-older household spends more than $44,000 annually.

Time is both your greatest asset and your scariest enemy in retirement planning because the younger you are when you start, the more time helps you build wealth but once you do retire, you're racing the clock.

"The greatest threat to your money is you outliving it, right? I mean, anybody... that's the greatest threat, is you live longer than your money does. When you retire at 65, you begin a race and it's your money and your life...who do you want to win?" Evans asks.

With approximately 10,000 people turning 65 everyday in our country and the average worker making less than $75,000 per year, retirement savings and long-term care cost issues aren't going anywhere in the near future. Evans says that a conservative advisor would tell you to plan and save to live to be 100-years-old -- and to know that wherever you are now, it is never too late to start.

Resources:

Tips from IRS.gov:
Taking Responsibility for Your Retirement
1. Set a Goal --- Figure out how much you can set aside and set up auto-draft so it will happen automatically every pay period
2. Learn about 401K & IRA options -- Learn about your employer's retirement plan or IRA options
3. Estimate your Social Security Benefits -- You can do this online by visiting this website.

*Remember you can seek help locally with agencies like the Pitt County Council on Aging and get information nationally from agencies like the Economic Policy Institute.

Pitt County Council On Aging
Economic Policy Institute - Retirement