You'll probably spend more than you think and save less than you expect.

They used to call retirement The Golden Years, but these days, only one in five people headed for retirement thinks there will be anything golden about them — particularly when it comes to money.

Those are some of the gloom-and-doom statistics from a recent Nationwide Retirement Institute report. Yet the NRI researchers did offer a ray of hope. Here are the major takeaways…

Social Security isn’t secure

That survey of more than 1,000 folks near or in retirement reveals more than half expect the current administration to cut Social Security benefits. And nearly 80 percent think the fund is going to run out in their lifetime.

Those aren’t new fears, but they’ve now hit a four-year high.

The average American can’t do much about governmental policy, but managing when and how to tap their retirement money can make a difference of hundreds of dollars each check and thousands in the long run.

“When and how Americans file for Social Security is one of the most important financial decisions they will make in their lifetime,” says Tina Ambrozy, president of sales and distribution for Nationwide.

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Most people surveyed figure they’ll wait until age 65 to collect Social Security — because one bit of wisdom is the longer you wait, the more money you’ll be able to collect.  Sadly, most current retirees actually began collecting when they were 62.

Most future retirees expect to receive about $1,578 in monthly Social Security benefits. But typically, the average check for a recent retiree is nearly $100 less than that.

And a majority also calculate that Social Security will cover about half their expenses in retirement, when the program was designed to cover only 40 percent.

Health spending is underestimated

Soon-to-be retirees expect to spend the bulk of their monthly income on housing and groceries, with health care coming in third, according to the NRI survey. But nearly 60 percent of those living in retirement say healthcare eats up the most of their budget — even more than housing.

Meanwhile, those retirees also warn: You may not be as healthy as you think you are. They weren’t.

Three in four said they ran into health problems sooner than they expected, with 65 percent saying those problems arrived a good five years ahead of what they’d anticipated.

“The average American claiming Social Security at 62 could spend about 64 percent of their monthly Social Security benefits on health care costs,” Ambrozy says. “That’s why it’s so important to consider optimizing Social Security. Too many retirees need the money, but few are maximizing their benefit.”

Do you even know how your Social Security is calculated? Nine in 10 older adults don’t.

Most say they want to seek out professional advice, but only 17 percent actually do. And that’s another mistake that’ll cost: On average, those who get advice see checks of about $1,584; those who don’t receive closer to $1,290 a month.

So where’s the silver lining?

If there’s any good news in the bad news, it’s this: It’s not too late to turn it around. Start by checking out 13 ways to maximize those Social Security checks and these 5 key money concerns in retirement.

Meet the Author

Michelle Bryan

Michelle Bryan

Social Media Director

Bryan is the social media director for Debt.com.

News, Retirement

Baby Boomers, save money, Social Security

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Article last modified on December 4, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Older Isn’t Always Wiser: What The Next Round Of Retirees Don’t Know - AMP.