Retiring broke: Are you saving enough for retirement?

Retiring broke: Are you saving enough for retirement?

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Are you saving enough money for retirement? Millions of people are not, and that's a problem. A couple of studies out this spring looked at just how big the retirement gap is.

Marcello Barra works hard and loves building things, except a savings account.

"I haven't thought about it too much, though I know I should be," Barra said.

He's got plenty of company.  A national survey this spring by GoBankingRates.com found that 42 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 in savings. And a survey by Bankrate.com finds that one in five Americans isn't saving so much as a dime.

"We have a real problem of people retiring into poverty if we don't turn the tide," said Barbara Stanton of AARP.

Of course there's Social Security, but the average benefit right now is only $1,400 a month, according to the Social Security Administration. That won't go far, and there's always a chance the government might raise the age of eligibility again.

To get some insight on this savings deficit, we spoke with certified financial planner Brady Raanes of Hattiesburg's Raanes Capital Advisors.

"It's surprising and staggering," Raanes said. "I think people underestimate how much they're going to need."

The top reasons people gave for not saving, in the GoBankingRates survey: They don't earn enough money, and they struggle just to pay their bills.

"It's a difficult decision that has to be made," Raanes said. "You're got to look really close at those discretionary expenses that are not necessarily necessities and decide what to cut down, or you have to say what can I do to supplement that income with some kind of a secondary source. At some point, it becomes just a math problem. You've got to have more inflow than outflow and you've got to be able to sock that aside."

Beverly Dillow is approaching retirement and she's been preparing for that event for a long time.

"Even with my husband retired now, I still get excited at the end of the month if I can save a little money," Dillow said.

People like her, getting close to retirement, can't afford a high degree of risk with their money, like wild swings in the stock market. But for people farther out from their golden years, the potential reward can be worth it.

"For those younger folks who are beginning the savings process, close your eyes, save the money, invest it, own stocks," Raanes said. "But the closer you get, it's important not to have those 20 percent losses and those shocking down days."

His firm generally recommends for retirees that can to draw down 5 percent of their savings a year. So if you need $50,000 income from your savings, you need a bucket nearing a million dollars to make that math work

If $50,000 may sound high to you, but according to the latest figures from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, average annual spending for Americans 65 and older is right at $46,000.