Some Retirement Statistics and Questions for Physicians

Transitioning to the End of Your Medical Career

 BY DR. DAVID EDWARD MARCINKO MBA CMP®

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With the PP-ACA, increased compliance regulations and higher tax rates impending from the Biden administration – not to mention the corona pandemic, venture capital based healthcare corporations and telehealth – physicians are more concerned about their retirement and retirement planning than ever before; and with good reason. After payroll taxes, dividend taxes, limited itemized deductions, the new 3.8% surtax on net investment income and an extra 0.9% Medicare tax, for every dollar earned by a high earning physician, almost 50 cents can go to taxes!

Introduction

Retirement planning is not about cherry picking the best stocks, ETFs or mutual funds or how to beat the short term fluctuations in the market. It’s a disciplined long term strategy based on scientific evidence and a prudent process. You increase the probability of success by following this process and monitoring on a regular basis to make sure you are on track.

General Surveys

According to a survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute [EBRI] and Greenwald & Associates; nearly half of workers without a retirement plan were not at all confident in their financial security, compared to 11 percent for those who participated in a plan, according to the 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS).

In addition, 35 percent of workers have not saved any money for retirement, while only 57 percent are actively saving for retirement. Thirty-six percent of workers said the total value of their savings and investments—not including the value of their home and defined benefit plan—was less than $1,000, up from 29 percent in the 2013 survey. But, when adjusted for those without a formal retirement plan, 73 percent have saved less than $1,000.

Debt is also a concern, with 20 percent of workers saying they have a major problem with debt. Thirty-eight percent indicate they have a minor problem with debt. And, only 44 percent of workers said they or their spouse have tried to calculate how much money they’ll need to save for retirement. But, those who have done the calculation tend to save more.

The biggest shift in the 24 years has been the number of workers who plan to work later in life. In 1991, 84 percent of workers indicated they plan to retire by age 65, versus only 9 percent who planned to work until at least age 70. In 2014, 50 percent plan on retiring by age 65; with 22 percent planning to work until they reach 70.

Physician Statistics

Now, compare and contrast the above to these statistics according to a 2018 survey of physicians on financial preparedness by American Medical Association [AMA] Insurance. The statistics are still alarming:

  • The top personal financial concern for all physicians is having enough money to retire.
  • Only 6% of physicians consider themselves ahead of schedule in retirement preparedness.
  • Nearly half feel they were behind
  • 41% of physicians average less than $500,000 in retirement savings.
  • Nearly 70% of physicians don’t have a long term care plan.
  • Only half of US physicians have a completed estate plan including an updated will and Medical directives.

Retired MD Doctor Retirement Gift Idea Retiring - Doctor ...

Thoughts to Ponder

And so, to help make your golden years comfortable and worry free, here are ten important retirement questions for all physicians to consider:

  1. How much money do you need to retire?
  2. What is your retirement cash flow?
  3. What is your retirement vision?
  4. How to stay on retirement track?
  5. How to maximize retirement plan contributions such as 401(k) or 403(b)?
  6. How to maximize retirement income from retirement plans?
  7. What are some other retirement plan savings options?
  8. What is your retirement plan and investing style?
  9. What is the role of social security in retirement planning?
  10. How to integrate retirement with estate planning?

The opinion of a competent Certified Medical Planner® can assist.

ASSESSMENT: Your thoughts, comments and input are appreciated.

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Financing LONG-TERM CARE Needs?

AGING AND RETIREMENT

Long-term care (LTC) may not be the first thing individuals or couples think about as they approach retirement, but the costs for those who needs it can disrupt and derail retirement security. A good plan for long-term care requires many decisions over an extended period of time, and well before retirement.

In this article, Milliman consultant Robert Eaton discusses the major considerations and options for financing LTC needs in retirement.

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ASSESSMENT: Your thoughts are appreciated.

THANK YOU

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When Will You Retire?

Where Will Your Money Come From?

By Rick Kahler CFP®

The list is fairly short: Social Security, a pension, working, your assets, children, or public assistance.

According to an April 22, 2019 Bloomberg article by Suzanne Woolley, entitled “America’s Elderly Are Twice as Likely to Work Now Than in 1985“, only twenty percent of those age 65 or older are working. The rest either can’t work physically, can’t find work, or don’t want to work. According to the ADA National Network, over 30 percent of people over 65 are disabled in some manner.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Social Security provides the majority of income for most elderly Americans. It provides at least 50% of income for about half of seniors and at least 90% of income for about one-fourth of seniors. The average Social Security retirement benefit isn’t as high as many people think. In June 2019 it was about $1,470 a month, or about $17,640 a year.

And, as per the Pension Rights Center, around 35% of Americans receive a pension or VA benefits. The greatest percentage of pensions are government. This would include retired state and federal workers like teachers, police, firefighters, military, and civil service workers. In 2017 the median state or local government pension benefit was $17,894 a year, the median federal pension was $28,868, and the median military pension was $21,441.

Working provides the highest source of retirement income for the 20 percent of those who are over 65 and are still working. According to SmartAsset.com, Americans aged 65 and older earn an average of $48,685 per year. However, in a NewRetirement.com article dated February 26, 2019, “Average Retirement Income 2019, How Do You Compare“, Kathleen Coxwell cites a figure from AARP that the median retirement income earned from employment is $25,000 a year.

About 3% of retirees receive public assistance.

This leaves around 20% of those over 65 who depend partially or fully for their retirement income on money they set aside during their working years. According to TheStreet.com, “What Is the Average Retirement Savings in 2019“, by Eric Reed, updated on Mar 3, 2019, the average retirement account for those age 65 to 74 totals $358,000. That amount will safely provide around $15,000 a year for most retirees’ lifetime. The median savings is $120,000, which will produce only about $5,000 a year. In order to retire at age 65 with an annual investment income of $30,000 to $40,000, someone would need a retirement nest egg of over $1 million.

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My conclusion from this data is that most Americans are woefully underprepared to live a comfortable lifestyle when they can no longer work. Between Social Security, pensions, and retirement savings, a retiree can expect a median income of $18,000 to a maximum of $52,000 a year. According to data I compiled from NewRetirement.com, the average median retirement income of those over age 65 is around $40,000.

What are some things you can do to increase your chances of enjoying a comfortable retirement income?

If you are under age 50, begin setting aside 15% to 25% of your income for retirement.

If you are over 60, keep working as long as you can. If you retire early, your monthly Social Security benefit is lower for the rest of your life.

Consider ways to stretch your retirement income by downsizing, sharing housing, or relocating to an area of the US or even outside the country with a lower cost of living.

Research what you can reasonably expect from Social Security and other sources of retirement income. Base your retirement expectations on informed planning, not on vaguely optimistic expectations.

Assessment: Your thoughts are appreciated.

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Playing with the FIRE Movement

“What do you think of the FIRE movement?”

[By Rick Kahler CFP]

“What do you think of the FIRE movement?” a reporter asked me recently. I told her I was ambivalent about it.

The FIRE acronym in this context stands for “Financial Independence, Retire Early.” While a Harris poll done in late 2018 found most people over 45 had never heard of the FIRE movement, it apparently has caught fire among millennials.

The focus of FIRE adherents is lifestyle more than finances. Two books are the foundation of the FIRE movement: Your Money or Your Life, written in 1992 by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez, and Early Retirement Extreme, written in 2010 by Jacob Lund Fisker. The concept was popularized in 2011 by blogger Peter Adeney (Mr. Money Mustache), who lives in Longmont, CO. At the age of 30, Adeney and his wife retired with a retirement fund of $600,000 and a paid-for home.

According to the reporter who interviewed me, many advisors have strong opinions against the FIRE movement. This may seem odd. After all, financial independence and retiring early is often a goal of those seeking financial planning. That was certainly one of my goals when I was the age of today’s millennials.

I find very little to criticize about adopting a frugal lifestyle and saving as much as possible. For decades I have suggested living on half of what you make, with a goal of reaching financial freedom as soon as possible. Some FIRE proponents do save up to 50% of their income, which is five times more than their peers, according to a January 21, 2019, InvestmentNews article by Greg Iacurci, “Advisors throw cold water on FIRE Movement.”

What makes many financial planners uncomfortable is the definition of “early.” In my day, early was age 50, not 30. In terms of FIRE, Adeney promotes a lifestyle of aggressive frugality with the goal of retiring as soon as possible, using a 4% withdrawal rate as a guideline to determine the nest egg you need to accumulate.

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This raises two obvious issues that need clarification.

First, you need to earn enough to be able to live on 50 percent of your income. Relatively few young adults make that much. There is no magic income number, since the cost of living varies so much across the country.

One’s definition of frugality is also important. To some that may mean setting the thermostat at 68 all winter or driving a small fuel-efficient vehicle. For  others it may mean chopping your own wood to heat your living space only with a wood-burning stove or doing without a car altogether. As with many things, the wisdom is knowing when frugality crosses the line to dangerous deprivation.

Finally, the earlier you retires the longer your retirement nest egg must last. With a 4% withdrawal rate, someone retiring at age 70 has a much higher probability of seeing their investment portfolio last for their lifetime than someone retiring at age 30. Also, the rate of return on the portfolio is critical. The higher the rate of return the longer the funds will last. If there is any potential problem with the FIRE formula it’s probably this.

Since the average 30 year old may live another 60 years, and assuming a 4% return net of mutual fund and advisor fees, I would make a strong argument for a 2 percent withdrawal rate. Someone age 50 could reasonably withdraw 3%, while someone age 60 or above could probably be safe at 4%.

Assessment:

As with any conflagration, playing with FIRE irresponsibly can end up burning down the house. But used wisely, it can sustain life and make living much more rewarding.

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More on Retirement Planning

ShouldaCoulda Woulda Retirement Planning

By Rick Kahler CFP®

My hunch is that most people would agree they “should” invest for the future. My second hunch is that many of them don’t know how to start and are afraid of making serious mistakes.

One of our resident planners, Sterling Gray, summed up that fear eloquently in a post on the KFG blog: “I noticed that my friends and colleagues . . . saw retirement planning as a dark, treacherous terrain that they could never safely travel alone. Unsure of where to turn for help, they often chose to ignore saving for retirement completely . . .”

Here are some pointers to help you take the first steps into the unfamiliar terrain of investing.

1. First and foremost, create a habit of living on less than you make. Spend frugally and invest as much as you possibly can. Ideally, while you are young, start with 20% of your paycheck, but at least start with something. The older you are, the greater the percentage you need to be saving.

2. Choose an investment method that will help reduce the taxes you pay on your contributions and the earnings they produce. This commonly means 401(k) retirement plans and IRAs—Roth IRAs for those in low income tax brackets and traditional IRAs for those in high tax brackets. You typically want to contribute a portion of every paycheck to your retirement plan.

3. Pick an investment. This is the part that scares many people away from investing, so let’s be specific.

3a. The best way for small investors to accumulate wealth is by owning stocks. But you don’t want to fall into the trap of picking individual stocks yourself, or worse yet, trying to buy low and sell high. That is called “playing the stock market,” and according to the research there is a high probability the only thing that will get played is you.

3b. The best way to own stocks is in a mutual fund that owns thousands of stocks of companies from around the globe. My favorite fund for people under age 40 is Vanguard Total World Stock (VT). It owns 7,781 stocks of companies located in 41 countries, including both developed and emerging markets. Over the last 48 years an investment in a globally diversified portfolio of stocks returned 8.9% annually, according to the MSCI World stock index. A $10,000 initial investment turned into about $600,000. If you are over 40, you may want to consider the Vanguard Global Wellington Fund Investor Shares (VGWLX. If you are over 60, the Vanguard Managed Payout Fund (VPGDX) is my favorite.

3c. If your 401(k) doesn’t offer these mutual funds, it probably will offer a number of Target Date Funds. Pick one that is closest to the year you will turn 70. If you are age 30 now, select the 2060 Target Date Fund.

4. This is the most important part of accumulating wealth, and it is absolutely the hardest part. Keep investing out of every paycheck, even when markets are falling or seem sure to fall. Even when the talking heads are sure the world is coming to an end and the financial press is screaming that you need to get out before you lose it all. Never suspend your monthly investment. Never sell out of your stock mutual fund and go to cash. Never sell out even 10% of your stock fund and go to cash. Keep breathing, focus on the long term, and stay the course.

Assessment

Like any trip into new territory, the path to financial independence starts with a single step. Take that first step, and you’re on your way to a successful journey.

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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What does “Retirement” mean to You?

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A Mental Exercise … for You!

By Rick Kahler MS CFP® http://www.KahlerFinancial.com

Rick Kahler MS CFPHere’s a brief mental exercise to try: Quickly, without stopping to think, write down what comes to mind when you imagine yourself being retired.

If you’re 40 or younger, your answers might well include terms like “future” and “old age,” which probably don’t seem especially relevant or urgent at this stage in your life.

If you’re older, chances are you’ve had at least passing thoughts about retirement. You might associate it with concepts like these:

  • Freedom from the daily grind
  • Losing my earning power
  • Losing my identity
  • Enjoying financial independence
  • Being useless
  • Dependency and declining health
  • Doing what I’ve always wanted to do
  • I don’t ever plan to retire

Both the positives and negatives in the above list have one thing in common: they don’t tell the whole story. The idea of retirement is surrounded by a host of delusions, assumptions, and fears. Many of our expectations about it do not match the reality.

Examples:

Here are just two examples from “The 2013 Risks and Process of Retirement Survey,” done by the Society of Actuaries.

  • Of the pre-retirees surveyed, 38% expected to work until at least 65. Another 15% expected not to retire at all. Yet 54% of the retirees surveyed had retired before age 60.
  • Many pre-retirees—59%—planned to stop working gradually. Yet only 22% of retirees had done so. While 35% of pre-retirees intended to keep working part-time, only 10% of retirees actually did.

It’s no wonder that many workers plan to stay employed; they’ll need the money. The 2015 Transamerica Retirement Survey of Workers estimates the median amount that workers in their 50s have saved for retirement at only $117,000. For workers in their 60s and older, it is $172,000. Even combined with Social Security, that’s hardly enough to provide an adequate retirement income.

Yet even if you intend to keep working and earning until you’re 80, you may find your plans derailed. If companies downsize, older workers may be among the first to be laid off. Health problems (your own or those of family members you may need to care for) can force you to retire earlier than you expected to.

And, these are only two of the unfortunate realities that can jolt any of us out of our rosy expectations of enjoying a carefree retirement of good health, comfort, and independence.

Just because we can’t count on carrying out our retirement plans, though, doesn’t mean we should give up on retirement planning altogether.

Some Suggestions

Here are a few suggestions to deal with the realities of retirement:

  1. Save as much as you can. Make funding retirement your priority, especially if it’s too late to start early. Cut your spending, downsize, and pay off debt. Having more money in retirement gives you more options when bad things do happen.
  1. Improve your health: lose weight, exercise more, and eat a healthy diet. Improve your odds for staying well by changing what is within your power to change.
  1. Look at the whole retirement picture. Become willing to consider both the negative and positive possibilities in order to plan appropriately. Unreasonable pessimism and fear are no more realistic than unreasonable optimism.

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7 ways retirement income

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Assessment

Finally, the most realistic viewpoint may be accepting that retirement is no more or less predictable than any other stage of life. We can’t know if we’ll develop serious health problems in our 70s or still be able to go dancing when we’re 102. While we can and should prepare for the future, we also serve ourselves well when we remember to enjoy the present.

More:

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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Are Doctors NOW Members of the Middle Class?

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In OR Out?

  • By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP®
  • By Rick Kahler MS CFP® ChFC CCIM

Rick Kahler CFPThe middle class Marketers target it. Politicians champion it. Economists talk about it. Most of us consider ourselves part of it. FAs want to serve it.

Yet, when I’ve asked for a clear definition, I have not found anybody yet that really can tell me what “middle class” is.

Definition

I recently posted on Twitter that $90,000 was a middle-class household income and that it would take a nest egg of $3 million to generate that income in retirement.

A couple of my colleagues responded that my figures were way too high and accused me of being out of touch. As a lifelong South Dakotan, I’m used to being seen as “out of touch,” but the idea that $90,000 was beyond a middle-class income intrigued me.

I figured a few minutes with Google would point me to a definition of “middle class.” It wasn’t that simple. I soon discovered that neither politicians, nor economists, sociologists, nor financial advisors can agree on what makes someone middle class. It is a little easier to define a middle class income.

USA Today

I did find an excellent article in USA Today by Dan Horn of the Cincinnati Inquirer. He cited three surveys that attempted to define the middle class by income. The Pew Charitable Trust describes it as the middle 20%, an income range from $32,900 to $64,000. The U.S. Census Bureau disagrees.

They say a middle class income is the middle 60%, an income range of $20,600 to $102,000. The U.S. Department of Commerce begs to differ with both and says an income between $50,800 and $122,000 puts you in the middle class. Combining the income range of the three studies ($20,600 to $122,000) puts two-thirds of all income earners in the middle class.

My Personal POV

For me, defining middle class with such a broad income range just raises more questions than it answers.

First of all, the same income that will provide a comfortable middle-class lifestyle in a place like the Black Hills of South Dakota won’t necessarily do the same in San Francisco or Boston.

Second, if you want to assure yourself of a middle-class income throughout your lifetime, you apparently have to get rich.

Concept of expensive education - dollars and diploma

Case Model

Let’s assume a young couple, both allied healthcare professionals, earn $45,000 each for a household income of $90,000. Let’s assume they want to save enough to provide a similar income in retirement without counting on Social Security. To generate that income, with a 99% certainty they will never run out of money, how much will they need to save?

While financial advisors’ responses will vary, most will agree this couple would need between $2 million and $4 million in today’s dollars. Let’s settle on $3 million. If they each saved $1,000 monthly to 401k’s (about 25% of their salaries), our young couple could save $6,600,000 million ($3 million in today’s dollars adjusted for inflation) by the time they reached age 65.

However, while a couple needs $3 million to produce a middle-class income, someone with a net worth of $3 million is in the financial top 2% of Americans. That’s hardly middle class.

And to complicate things further, Gallup polls have shown that most Americans think anyone with a net worth of $1 million is rich. Yet having $1 million when you retire will generate a secure lifetime income of $30,000. So the net worth that we define as wealthy provides an income that we define as barely middle class.

More:

Assessment

Confused yet? I certainly am. There’s just one thing I’m still sure of. If you want a middle-class lifestyle after you retire, what you’d better do now is live a modest middle-class lifestyle so you can save enough to qualify as rich.

Conclusion

And so, are doctors members of the middle class – in potential retirement income under this model? Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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