Consumer Reports Finds New Rules, Tools, and Attitudes for the Retirement Reality of Every Generation

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CR offers tips and strategies for consumers from their 20s to their 80s

Retirement planning rules have changed for people of all ages, but it’s never too late to pivot to a new approach or too early to start planning for the future, finds Consumer Reports in its latest look at “The New Retirement,” in the nonprofit organization’s January 2017 issue.

In its story, CR takes a thorough look at the new forces that are altering the traditional approach to retirement planning for consumers. The new reality of retirement shows that 401(k) plans are getting better, retirement advice is getting more reliable, savers can essentially design their own pension through an immediate annuity that guarantees cash flow, and those applying for Social Security can get far bigger payments by claiming their benefits the right way. All of these elements can help consumers --both those whose retirement is rapidly approaching as well as those for whom retirement is still many years down the road—craft a new retirement strategy.

“If you were young and working during the ’60s, ’70s, or early ’80s, you probably thought your own retirement would be the traditional life-of-leisure kind, but the era of the golden-watch goodbye is clearly a thing of the past,” says Tobie Stanger, Consumer Reports Senior Money Editor.

For new strategies and tools to reroute retirement plans, read “The New Retirement” story available on CR.org, or on newsstands in the January 2017 issue of Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports finds that the Great Recession disproportionately affected Baby Boomers, sending many into early retirement without sufficient funds, or pushing them to work longer than originally planned. A recent survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that 37 percent of retired CR subscribers left the workforce earlier than they expected; and on the whole they were less satisfied in retirement than those who’d retired as planned, or later.

CR reports that Generation Xers (born between 1965 and 1981) are faced with financing their children’s education and paying off mortgages but still have time to ramp up savings before retirement. If they’re 50 or older, they can take advantage of catch-up provisions that let them contribute up to $24,000 to a 401(k), and $6,500 to an IRA.

The Silent Generation (born before 1946) are for the most part well into retirement, but have faced an unprecedented spell of near-zero interest rates that has eroded the earning power of fixed income securities. In addition, CR’s recent survey shows that a quarter of retired CR subscribers said their retirement expenses were higher in their first year of retirement than they’d planned for; 45 percent said their healthcare costs were higher than anticipated. Those concerned about running out of money may want to consider a new, counter-intuitive solution that prescribes investing more heavily in stocks as they age, CR reports.

Millennials may have already taken a lesson from the retirement challenges that the previous generations face. The CR story cites a recent survey by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, which found that 72 percent of millennials with access to employer-based retirement plans are putting away money in those accounts, not far behind the 77 percent of Gen Xers. They’re also starting to save earlier—starting at a median age of 22—showing that when given the opportunity, millennials are good savers.

“Millennials with access to employer-based retirement accounts are beginning to save earlier in their lives than other generations did,” Stanger says. “If more of this generation is offered access to such plans, they actually may face an easier time in retirement than their parents.”

Regardless of the generation bracket, these websites help see where to start strategizing for the future: SSA.GOV (Social Security Administration), CTAINVEST.ORG (California Teachers Association - see the Projected Retirement Expense Calculator), AARP.ORG (AARP - see the Social Security Benefits Calculator) and TROWEPRICE.COM (T. Rowe Price - see the Retirement Income Calculator).

The complete article, including more tools and a full breakdown of generational challenges, advantages, and strategies for retirement is available at CR.org, or on newsstands in the January 2017 issue.

About Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports is the world’s largest and most trusted nonprofit, consumer organization working to improve the lives of consumers by driving marketplace change. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has achieved substantial gains for consumers on health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other issues. The organization has advanced important policies to cut hospital-acquired infections, prohibit predatory lending practices and combat dangerous toxins in food. Consumer Reports tests and rates thousands of products and services in its 50-plus labs, state-of-the-art auto test center and consumer research center. Consumers Union, a division of Consumer Reports, works for pro-consumer laws and regulations in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace. With more than eight million subscribers to its flagship magazine, website and other publications, Consumer Reports accepts no advertising, payment or other support from the companies whose products it evaluates.

JANUARY 2017
© 2016 Consumer Reports. The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for advertising or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports® is an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. We accept no advertising and pay for all the products we test. We are not beholden to any commercial interest. Our income is derived from the sale of Consumer Reports®, ConsumerReports.org® and our other publications and information products, services, fees, and noncommercial contributions and grants. Our Ratings and reports are intended solely for the use of our readers. Neither the Ratings nor the reports may be used in advertising or for any other commercial purpose without our permission. Consumer Reports will take all steps open to it to prevent commercial use of its materials, its name, or the name of Consumer Reports®.

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Rocio Guzman
Consumers Union
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