Retirement Conditions Toughest in Decades

PHOTO: Retirement conditions are the worst in a generation.

As yields on bonds and stock dividends have dropped, Baby Boomers are finding it's the toughest time to retire in a generation, according to an analysis by Bankrate.

Economic conditions now have made it harder to take money out of your nest egg without depleting it during your lifetime, said Chris Kahn, research and statistics analyst at Bankrate.

"This is the first generation really relying on stocks and bond investments," Kahn said, noting that while 80 percent of previous generations that had relied on private pensions for retirement, only 20 percent do now.

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According to Research Affiliates, a retiree in 1980 with $355,000 in 60 percent stocks and 40 percent bonds would have received an average annual return of 6.9 percent over 30 years. That retiree could have withdrawn 4 percent every year and the portfolio would still have grown to $1.3 million by 2010.

Using current market yields, Research Affiliates projects that someone retiring today with a similar 60/40 portfolio would run out of money in 25 years.

That retiree's money could disappear even faster if inflation and interest rates rise as they did from the 1960s to the early 1980s.

Annuities don't pay as well, either. "In 1990, for example, an annuity that guaranteed a lifetime income stream for a 65-year-old man required an investment of about $9 for every $1 it paid back," Bankrate says, citing David Blanchett, head of retirement research for Morningstar Investment Management. "Twenty years later, a similar 65-year-old would need to invest $15 to get $1 in guaranteed annual income. And that $1 has only about half the buying power after 20 years of inflation."

Read more at Bankrate on Baby Boomer Retirement Risks

Meanwhile, health care costs are increasing and Medicare is at risk of further budget cuts. One wild card is how President Obama's Affordable Care Act will affect retiree costs.

Another reason why this generation may face greater risks in retirement is its weaker savings habits than those of our grandparents, Kahn said.

While previous generations of Americans saved 8 cents on the dollar a prevailing rate today is around 2 cents to the dollar.

"People are choosing to live better now and defer all that risk to their retirement age: spend more now and don't think toward the future," Kahn said.

But all is not lost, Kahn said, who offers retirement fix-up tips.

First, if workers are able to do so, he suggests delaying retirement another five years.

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"Any amount of time is good, but the general rule of thumb is if people can work five extra years after 65, they can most likely close the savings gap of what you need to retire," he said.

Kahn also advises older workers between age 50 and 65 look into catch-up contributions that allow people to contribute more to their 401(k) accounts.

Last, Kahn suggests you diversify your assets, get expert help and talk to your kids.

"Preparation should not just be for you, but for the folks who will be your safety net," he said.

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