Baby Boomers will have a tough financial row to hoe in managing their retirement and will need to adopt their own special game plan in order to live comfortably in their golden years, says Alice Munnel, keynote speaker at the Financial Planning Association's 2011 Conference in San Diego on Friday.
In her presentation entitled "Ride the Wave to Success," Munnell painted a dour financial outlook for baby boomers, who she says will now have to grapple with a retirement scenario where living costs are increasing while the sources of income to cover them are shrinking.
Munnell described boomers' retirement financial prospects as a simple economic inequality: anticipated retirement revenues will not equal the anticipated increasing retirement living costs.
In addition to the retirement cost-revenue squeeze, boomers must also deal with the aftereffects of the 2008 market meltdown, which Munnell says depleted many of their pre-retirement portfolios.
Another factor likely to compound boomers' retirement squeeze is that each generation is projected to live longer coupled with the fact that many will likely require health care, another added post-retirement cost, said Munnell, who estimated that roughly two thirds of retirees will require some form of long term health care during their retirement.
To cover their retirement costs, Munnell says baby boomers have a three-legged revenue stool that includes Social Security benefits, retirement plans such as a 401(k) or individual retirement accounts, and personal savings, including assets that can be derived from the value of their home.
There's more bad news for soon-to-be retirees. Most have not planned -- and saved -- very well for their post retirement years, says Munnell, a Boston College professor and director of the Center for Retirement Research there.
Among baby boomers still working, only half of them have set up a retirement plan funded by a 401(k) or IRA, she says. And those who have set up a shared retirement account with their employer have watched the employers' contribution side steadily dwindle.
Munnell offered baby boomers this retirement game plan: Adopt a frugal standard of living, spending wisely and less; work longer, postponing retirement beyond 62 to 64 or 67 or longer; and capitalize on your existing assets such as the equity built in your home by using a reverse mortgage.