Living longer could be hazardous for your financial health. According to Merrill Lynch’s latest Affluent Insights Survey — which polled 1,000 American adults with investable assets of $250,000 and above — more Americans are facing serious long-range retirement challenges. Data from the Society of Actuaries found that a 65-year-old couple now has a 31 percent chance of at least one spouse living past the age of 95, and by 2050, the U.S. population will include over 600,000 centenarians.
Problem is, most people aren’t prepared yet financially to ride out those extra years in their desired level of comfort. At the same time, they don’t want to give up their current lifestyle in order to retire. So they’re sorting through a raft of choices and decisions that will help them find a happy medium. Here are some noteworthy takeaways from the survey:
Top concerns of affluent Americans
- Rising health care costs
- Nation’s budget deficit
- U.S. unemployment rate
- Potential for rising tax rates
- Nation’s political standing with the world
Not willing to make retirement tradeoffs
Fifty-one percent of individuals surveyed said they would rather retire later than make tradeoffs — though if they had to, 38 percent would trim day-to-day expenses, 35 percent would purchase fewer personal luxuries, 32 percent would limit vacation budgets, 27 percent would keeping the same car longer, 25 percent would leave less of an inheritance, and 24 percent would downsize their home.
Some will work well into their 80s
Age 65 has little bearing on planning
Getting serious about making assets last
Health care costs remain a top concern
Even among the affluent, health care costs are the biggest financial concern. One-third of respondents even said they are more concerned about the financial implications of a chronic illness or disability than they are about its impact on their quality of life. Yet 62% of respondents over the age of 50 have not yet estimated what their health care costs may be during retirement.
Women worry more
Additionally, women are more worried about their retirement assets lasting throughout their lifetime. And for good reason. Women, on average, live more than five years longer than men and tend to have less money stowed away in retirement accounts. They are also more likely to care for an aging parent, which can quickly eat away at retirement income.
They want more guidance
Those surveyed said they’d like to discuss retirement much more with their financial advisor. Thirty percent would like to talk about how to financially plan for the possibility of living to be 100 years old, 29% would like to discuss managing cash flow and liquidity in retirement, 26% would like to discuss balancing competing near- and long-term financial demands, 25% would like to discuss how they hope to live their life during their retirement years, 25% would like to discuss high health care costs and how it impacts their retirement income, and 21% would like to discuss making lifestyle choices today that will improve their long-term financial security.
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