When most of us picture our “golden years,” we picture a blissful, easy retirement. With many retirees looking for relaxation by heading to sunny states like Florida, Arizona, and South Carolina, it’s safe to say that we’re all hoping for the good life once we hit retirement age.
Though there are plenty of ways to make this dream a reality, the truth is that retirement isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Several dangerous retirement myths can lull you into a false sense of security, causing you to miss out on opportunities to prepare well in advance.
Whether you’re just entering the workforce or you’re preparing to leave it, it’s a good idea to know what to expect from retirement. Let’s debunk the top five retirement myths that exist today.
Table of Contents
- 1 1. You Can Always Work Longer If You Haven’t Saved Enough
- 2 2. Social Security Will Cover Your Expenses
- 3 3. You’ll Spend Less Money During Retirement
- 4 4. Your Tax Payments Will Drop During Retirement
- 5 5. Medicare Will Cover Your Healthcare Expenses
- 6 6. Retirement Planning Can Wait
- 7 Get Smart About These Retirement Myths
1. You Can Always Work Longer If You Haven’t Saved Enough
Many people imagine that it’s easy to delay retirement if they don’t have enough money saved. With the average lifespan stretching longer and longer, working past 65 isn’t uncommon anymore. Besides, working an extra few years isn’t a terrible fate, as long as it means you’ll be able to accrue enough cash to get you through your golden years.
However, the reality is that many people find themselves unable to work during retirement—whether or not they wish to. Many early retirements happen as the result of illness or disability, not to mention the difficulty of finding jobs that pay well as an aging adult. In other words, relying on income you’ll make during your retirement years may not be your best bet.
2. Social Security Will Cover Your Expenses
Social security is a great source of financial relief for most retirees, with some people even relying on it as their primary source of income.
However, it’s worth remembering that social security is not meant to replace your pre-retirement income in full. Instead, it can help you supplement an existing investment fund or pension. If you’re hoping to rely on social security alone, you may need to make some significant lifestyle downgrades.
3. You’ll Spend Less Money During Retirement
Saving for retirement gets easier if you imagine you’ll be spending less during your golden years. After all, without worrying about the hassles of commuting or buying business clothes, you’ll be poised to save with ease, right?
Not so fast. Some retirees find themselves spending more money than expected during their retirement years. This is especially true if you plan to travel, visit relatives and grandchildren, take up new hobbies, or move to a new location. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person aged 65-74 spent over $50,000 in 2020, which may be more than you planned on spending.
4. Your Tax Payments Will Drop During Retirement
When most people retire, their income is lower than it was when they were working. This might make you believe your taxes will decrease as well—but that isn’t always the case.
The details will depend on your specific situation, but it’s worth noting that there are fewer tax breaks for aging adults, and you’ll likely have fewer dependents to claim as well.
In addition, you may have tax obligations associated with your retirement income. If you have certain types of retirement accounts, like a traditional IRA, you’ll pay income tax when you withdraw money. In some cases, you’ll be taxed on your Social Security benefits as well.
5. Medicare Will Cover Your Healthcare Expenses
For senior citizens, Medicare can offer great peace of mind. Because it covers the costs of doctor visits and hospitalization, it can ensure that you have coverage for basic medical needs.
However, there’s a lot that Medicare does not cover.
Some Medicare plans don’t offer coverage for things like dental and vision care, both of which can be crucial as you age. They also don’t cover the cost of hearing aids.
In addition, no Medicare plans will cover long-term care, such as an extended stay in a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Unless you have the money to pay for these expenses out of pocket, it’s important to consider alternate coverage or savings to supplement your Medicare plan.
6. Retirement Planning Can Wait
One of the biggest and most dangerous myths about retirement is that you can delay planning for it.
It’s true that retirement planning can eat up a significant portion of your paycheck year over year. That’s money you could be putting toward immediate needs, like schooling or house payments. For many people, saving for retirement can feel like a pipe dream.
Furthermore, many people mistakenly believe that investing money requires ongoing effort, including the need to analyze stocks and bonds on a regular basis. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Saving isn’t always as hard as you think. Setting aside a little each month is a fast way to let your money start compounding over time.
Better still, the best retirement plans make it easy to use a “set it and forget it” strategy, allowing you to invest money on a regular basis without stressing over the types of accounts or stocks you’re choosing each time.
Working with a financial advisor can help. No matter your income or needs, looking through different types of retirement plans can help you choose an avenue that works for you. Of course, it’s crucial to keep in mind these questions to ask to make sure you’re partnering with the right expert.
Get Smart About These Retirement Myths
While there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful and even excited about your golden years, it’s a good idea to understand the key retirement myths above. Knowing the reality of the retirement experience can help you plan with more accuracy, ensuring that you’ve prepared for your future well. Make sure to reach out to an expert as you take your first steps, as an experienced advisor can help you make smart moves for your long-term health and happiness.
Want to make the most of what’s in your wallet? Be sure to check out our other content for additional finance tips.