Retirement planning is hard enough without being saddled with ill-conceived notions. But as a recent survey from Charles Schwab indicates, too many investors harbor misconceptions about the dos and don’ts of financing planning beyond age 50.
According to Schwab’s “Money Myths” survey of 998 respondents ages 30-79 with an annual household income of at least $35,000, 38 percent of respondents said retirees shouldn’t have their money in the stock market.
Not so, says Schwab, which counters that stocks and/or equity-related funds protect against inflation over time, and that it’s best to gradually trim the percentage of equities in a portfolio as you get older.
Among the other misconceptions held by many respondents, 52 percent said you should start taking Social Security as soon as you’re eligible. Schwab counters that most people leave money on the table when they file early because they receive smaller monthly payments for life. People who can wait till age 70 get larger payments.
Another finding was that 24 percent respondents said by the time you’re 50 it’s too late to make a difference in your financial future.
Schwab labeled this sentiment a myth, explaining that 50-year-olds have 15 to 20 years to save for retirement and that catch-up provisions in the tax code can help. The company added that 34 percent of working Americans don’t plan on retiring until after age 70.
But projecting how long one will work is like forecasting Christmas weather in July. The survey found that 39 of respondents still in the workforce said they expect to receive income from a part-time job in retirement. In reality, says Schwab, just 4 percent of current retirees actually do so.
Perhaps one of the more dangerous misconceptions (held by 33 percent survey respondents) is that a 401(k) plan is a good place to go for a loan or a withdrawal if you need cash during your working years.
Schwab’s stance is that while certain emergency situations might justify taking a loan from a 401(k) plan, in most cases tapping into a retirement plan before retirement is one of the worst moves you can make.