She claims to be the luckiest old broad, my dear friend Betty White turns 97 today, and I can’t think of anyone that has done a better job of living his or her life to the fullest and leaving a mark on our hearts as America’s favorite sweetheart and Golden Girl. For her, redefining a full life and even the concept of retirement were not really on her list of priorities. If I asked her about retirement, I recall her saying that the only way she would slow down and leave her humble home in California would be feet first. But thankfully, most of us still live our lives with the idea of one day putting the work and stress aside to replace it with simple enjoyment of our golden years.
On Betty’s Big Day, I am happy to report that I feel confident in today’s seniors and baby boomers. From the things I read, they are feeling more confident about their retirement than they have in recent years. Things are actually making a turn for the better, especially when it comes to the economy, but in reality, there are a few factors that could stunt retirement success in the coming years, and I will rain on today’s parade just a bit.
Let’s start with how Americans are saving. The rate of savings still isn’t where it needs to be for most seniors and our health as a population is ailing, but still, seniors have a lot to be optimistic about. Below you’ll find a review of the current state of retirement in the US and important lessons we can all take away from Betty White’s life.
Seniors Still Aren’t Saving
Despite widespread attention to the importance of savings, seniors still aren’t putting away enough to keep them happy and healthy through retirement. A recent report from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies revealed that just 16% of retirees feel confident that they built a sufficiently sized nest egg. Despite this low number, 67% report feeling confident that they will be able to maintain a comfortable lifestyle during retirement. The disconnect between what seniors are prepared for and how they expect to live during retirement represents a disturbing trend.
Life Expectancy No Longer Rising
After decades of steadily rising, the average life expectancy of an American has started to dip. The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that children born in the US can expect to live about 78.6 years – which breaks down as 81.1 years for females and 76.1 years for males, on average. The agency attributes the dip in life expectancy to increased drug-related deaths and higher rates of suicide.
Nevertheless, Americans are Financially Optimistic
An annual survey conducted by Fidelity Investments shows that 75% of Americans predict they will be in better financial shape in 2019 than they were in 2018. This optimism with respect to budget is likely based on the current strength of the economy, which offers seniors an opportunity to catch up on savings.
Economic optimism in the US is fueled by:
- Higher gross domestic product and increased consumer confidence
- Low unemployment and mortgage rates
- Strong real estate market that is projected to grow
Seniors looking to capitalize on a strong economy should evaluate their major assets and review for diversification opportunities:
- Selling a home, looking into a reverse mortgage or leveraging any other real estate assets could prove helpful to many seniors
- Seniors should definitely look into re-allocating stock and bond portfolios, as certain industries are doing better than others – even in an overall strong economy. Diversifying is a good idea to ensure seniors benefits from the strengths of different industries.
- Seniors can take advantage of new life insurance option, such as getting a market appraisal for an existing life policy. This option could result in the sale of a policy for an immediate cash payment while helping you save the expensive premium payments – your piggy bank will love it!
Betty White is Still Hot
Although end-of-life issues, from financial to psychological, can be overwhelming – seniors with great attitudes that embrace change, plan for change and realize that change is inevitable, will find the stressors of retirement less burdensome. Betty White lives this mantra. At 97 years old, Betty has no plans to dip into her retirement nest egg and keeps herself going with a sunny attitude, a glass of orange juice each morning, the staircase for exercise when she forgets something upstairs and vodka screwdriver with dinner – “hold the orange juice.” We can all learn a few things from Betty and her life. I know I have and with this I send out my love to her and her fans on this 97th birthday of our sweetheart.