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The lights have been green all their lives for the baby boomers. They were born only after the Second World War, between 1946 and 1964, and grew up during the greatest and most sustained economic boom in human history.

They were sent by their doting parents to college and graduate school when that was still cheap — or almost free. And they were able to accumulate stocks, bonds, and property when they went out to work just as prices began to rise. In the early 1980s, +0.14% of Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA was 1,000 when most boomers first came into the workplace. So where are they now, after all that good luck? There are numbers in a new study. And they’re not nice.

“Boomer Retirement Expectations,” new annual study from the Insured Retirement Institute, a trade organization for the annuity industry, reads shockingly. Most boomers, while approaching or entering it, are not ready for retirement. It’s incredible, barely one in ten has saved enough. This is not the first study to report poor retirement savings for Americans.

However, the IRI survey stands out because it specifically focuses on boomers. 804 people between 56 and 72 years old were interviewed. In short, according to their numbers, approximately 11% have saved at least $500,000 for retirement. That’s hardly a ransom for the king, but it might have to do. The rest don’t have that. Almost half have no pension savings at all. None. It’s really bad. Bad times ahead.

Approximately half of those making it into their early 60s will live past 85. How they will get through without savings is the guess of anyone. OK, OK. Financial retirement planning surveys are generally produced and of course, viewed by financial services organizations. The IRI is an annuity provider. And yes, the results of the survey suggest that more people should really buy annuities at retirement.

Make what you want out of that. But all the same, the study is useful. Among the benefits: it shows that so many people have been disappointed by seven “deadly sins” of retirement planning. There are seven things that you can not do when you plan to retire.

1. Not saving sufficient — or anything. Yeah, it’s the clearest, but it’s worth repeating. According to the IRI study, 23% of baby boomers have no pension savings… nor have they ever.

2. Drain your savings for retirement. A further 17 per cent saved once for their retirement… but then spent money either desperately or carelessly or both.

3. Not calculating a goal for pension savings. If you haven’t at least tried to figure out how much it should be, it is much harder to save enough for retirement. Surprisingly, only 25 per cent of boomers without a financial consultant has tried to manage the figures. And even 25 per cent of those with a financial adviser has not yet set a target.

4. Underestimated costs for health. A 2018 analysis estimated that a healthy couple might need to budget between $3.5 million for their health care expenses, including additional insurance, co-paid and other out-of-pocket costs, in their mid-Sixties. Yet most retirees have no clue. According to the IRI survey, over half of boomers think their healthcare costs are lower than 20% of their pension income, and more than 1 in 4 believe they are lower than 10%.

5. Ignoring the cost of long-term care. But almost 70 per cent of those in the mid-sixties will need some sort of long-term care, with an average cost of $89,000 a year per year. Who will pay for it? “Medicare,” say 46% of surveyed baby boomers. Medicare is not paying for long-term treatment. Not a nickel. Not a dime.

6. Mishandling your date of retirement. Some people were forced, on the one hand, to postpone retirement because they could not afford it. Some 29% of those aged 62 to 66 have postponed retirement and an outstanding 33% of those between the ages of 67 and 72. On the other hand, others overestimate how long they will be able to continue working. Approximately 31 per cent of boomers predict that they will work past 70… but studies have found that less than 10 per cent actually do.

7. Not putting things in order. Perhaps the most astonishing revelation in the survey is in the footnotes: approximately two-thirds of boomers have not taken any steps to protect themselves if they experience decreased capacity or dementia. They did not express their desires for their care and the end of their lives. You haven’t sorted out a lawyer’s power when one is required. And, as anyone who went through this process can tell you, it is quite likely that if you wait until you do this stuff, it will be too late.

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