It's no surprise we're not saving enough for the future - but unfortunately our retirement saving status is getting worse.
Natixis, the financial services arm of Groupe BPCE, the second-largest banking group in France, did a study based on 43 countries, and the U.S. ranked No. 16, down from No. 13 last year.
Norway, Switzerland and Iceland continue to take the top spots, according to their 2017 Global Retirement Index, which looks at things like health care costs, income per capita and whether there are enough workers coming into the system to support the old folks.
So we fell. Granted, by a 1% difference from last year - but we still fell.
There are a lot of strikes against retirement savings these days. Between lower salaries, low interest rates and that "instant gratification" mentality, paying ourselves first always seems to come last.
Plus we are all living longer. By 2050, the global elderly population will more than triple to 2.1 billion people, according to World Bank estimates.
And to make matters worse, the worker-to-beneficiary ratio will decline from 3.3 workers in 2005 to just 2.1 workers in 2040 - the same year the Social Security Trust Fund is projected to be exhausted, says Dave Goodsell, executive director of Natixis's Durable Portfolio Construction Research Center who helped compile the report.
Retirement security is becoming a huge social issue, and while we need our policy makers and companies to do more, it's high-time we take matters into our own hands.
So let's make changes now, so we are not all living in refrigerator boxes in retirement.
And here are some of our biggest mistakes.
Editors' pick: Originally published July 28.
- Not Saving Enough.
Period. End of story. We are just not saving enough - so pay yourself first already.
"If the government came out with a new tax, everyone would complain about it, but they'd pay it," says Josh Robbins, chief marketing officer at America's Best 401k, a company partially owned by his father Tony Robbins.
Consider it a tax you need to pay to ensure your retirement.
So max that 401(k), and start putting a little extra aside in after-tax dollars. Even $20 a week can add up.
And tell every Millennial and Gen-Z-er you know to do the same. Because the earlier folks in those generations start saving, the better off we all are.
- Not Planning for Medical Expenses.
"Medical expenses are, unfortunately, usually unexpected in nature and can put a big hole in even the best planned retirement savings plans," says Dr. Sean Stein Smith, CPA and member of the AICPA's Financial Literacy Commission.
So determine how you are going to pay for the unexpected. That includes understanding Medicare costs too. From Part D to the Medicare Supplement, fully investigate all of it and determine if you need it.
- Underestimating Long Term Care Costs.
Natixis did a retirement survey earlier this year that found that most people think long-term care costs are the biggest threat to their retirement, says Goodsell.
And we now know that LTC is not covered by Medicare. So either set money aside or consider LTC insurance so you're covered.
- Forgetting To Update The Plan.
"For good or bad, things change, and you must be willing and able to update your retirement plan to respond to such changes," says Smith.
So be sure to revisit it.
- Not Understanding Investment Fees
You could be doing the right thing and socking money away, but if you're paying outrageous fees that are eating your returns, you're not going to get anywhere, says Robbins.
So understand all the behind-the-scenes stuff.
- Borrowing From Your Retirement to Pay For College
"Americans approaching retirement need to remember, you can borrow for your children's education -- you cannot borrow for your retirement," says Sharon Lechter, CPA and also a member of the AICPA's Financial Literacy Commission.
Let the kids take loans. They have a lifetime to pay them back.
- Living It Up In Retirement
Stop. Way too many people go nuts in retirement and start spending money, because they are finally free! So just stop it. You are going to live a long life and will need the cash to do it.
And quite frankly, you probably should get a job. A small little part-time job will keep your mind going and the cash flowing.
While retirement may seem like a long way off for some, it can't be ignored.
It's coming - and it will be a blast - as long as you start planning for it now.