5 Things You Can Do to Get Your Retirement Back on Track: In Your 50′s

CATEGORIES: Investment Planning

How 50 Somethings Can Get Retirement Back on Track

If you are in your fifties, you are likely looking forward to the not too distant years ahead when you will enjoy your retirement. But when reality sets in, time to prepare financially is running out, especially if you find yourself with a critical shortage of retirement funds. A study by the Fidelity Research Institute found that the average 50 something is on track to replace just 55% of their income with savings, social security, and pension income, leaving a 45% shortfall and very little time to increase that number. For many, that means additional years of working until they physically or mentally are no longer able.

For many 50 somethings, their shortage of retirement savings is not entirely due to a lack of planning. Many lost much of their savings just a few years ago during the 2008 and 2009 crash. Then they felt compelled to take on a higher risk profile than they should to try and make up their losses, which didn’t work out as planned for many, further compounding the set back in savings. Investors nearing retirement might be tempted to ratchet up risk in search of quick gains, but going too far could be disastrous. There are other, safer ways to get your retirement plans back on track even if you plan to retire within 10 to 15 years.


If retirement at age 65 isn’t practically achievable, consider moving it out a few years to 68 or 70

This will provide you with some extra time to accumulate additional funds and can help you achieve your target for retirement savings.


Try reducing expensive debt

Paying off credit card and other debt will improve cash flow and, dollar for dollar, is better than keeping your cash in low yielding savings accounts. To put it simply, you’re better off paying credit card debt at 10% interest than earning 1% interest in a savings account.


Continue saving as much as you can

Although your time horizon is much shorter, it’s never too late to start saving what you can to provide some extra cash flow during retirement.


Consider Annuities

Annuities are products designed to pay a set monthly payment for a specified period of time and may work well for somebody behind on their retirement savings. Because annuities are often insurance products, they may come with high fees and commissions. Speak with a trusted fee only financial planner before purchasing an annuity. They can help you find low fee options that fit your personal retirement goals.


Optimize your investment portfolio:

  • Although you should remain primarily conservative, you should ensure that you have the right mix of assets to generate the highest possible return for the level of risk taken. Known as the “efficient frontier”, this is a goal for all investors, but should again come into sharp focus with a few short years to retirement.  Tweaking your asset allocation could result in significantly better portfolio appreciation without taking on additional risk.
  • When evaluating your asset allocation, be mindful of company stock you may own. Make sure company stock does not comprise more than 10% of your portfolio to stay diversified and avoid being over-weighted in a single stock. Employees who have worked for a company for a long period of time may have far more than 10% in stock options as part of their retirement and might be better served by a more diversified portfolio.
  • Watch out for high fund fees. If you own mutual funds, make sure the fees you pay are competitive and not more than 1%. In fact, with low fee fund options available from Vanguard and others, you can easily find funds that average around 0.5% for fees..

Use these tips as a guideline only as your situation is going to be very different than another. Most important, hope isn’t lost. Just because you’re a 50 something doesn’t mean that you can’t take proactive steps to get back on track.

Tell us…Do you feel like you are on track to achieve your retirement goals?


Find a clear path to retirement success with Jemstep’s free online tool.  Get personalized investment guidance to make the best investment decisions for your goals and unique situation.


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About the Author

Kevin Cimring is an investment adviser representative, Joint CEO of Jemstep, a free online investment guidance and service that takes the complexity out of making investment decisions by using technology to evaluate and identify your best options, helping you achieve success and reach your financial goals faster.

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17 thoughts on “5 Things You Can Do to Get Your Retirement Back on Track: In Your 50′s

  1. How is income defined? It can vary widely depending on a large number of factors: i.e. withholdings of all kinds, passive earnings, deferred earnings.  I’m of the opinion that many people have no personal definition of what their own income is, other than what their weekly/yearly gross wage or salary is.  Should you really include money never actually in your hands, such as
    federal and state income taxes, SS and medicare taxes, local wage taxes?  Believing this to be the case, perhaps a switch to the cash flow concept would make for a better apples-to-apples comparison for pre and post retirement planning.

    • Good Point. I think you should be looking to support 100% of your expenses in retirement not having 100% of your income from your working years.

      • Agreed – but it is better to aim for 100% income replacement because that is a tangible outcome. Replacement of expenses is a little vague because no one know how inflation will work for 15 years – for example, in 1997, that is 15 years ago, who’d have been able to pin-point expenses today? If one was considering low expenses based on their travel plans, Could one have accounted for gas prices to jump from 68c/ gallon to about $4/gallon over this period (and other price increase)?

  2. The obligatory gloss over retirement article really doesn’t help much.

    It seems odd to me that you cover obvious points like paying down credit cards and “saving.” What about strategies for setting up for retirement? Like, for example, structuring your home mortgage so you have it paid by retirement? It takes a pile of assets to support mortgage payments in retirement and realatively far less pain to increase the payment during working years to get it paid off by retirement. Same would go for not deferring maintenance and performing fixes now with materials that won’t be wearing out when you’re 80.

  3. Trying hard – but the casino also known as the stock market is eating my savings up.  The rich get richer………

    • Hi Dmarini7, thanks for taking time to read the article. This article is less of a detailed plan than providing some high level pointers to think about. Appropriate asset allocation in particular is something that many people overlook which is key to successful investing. We have done some “deeper dives” into this and other specific topics in other blog posts.

  4. It’s a sales pitch for annuities. There are very few reasons or ever do an annuity. They are heavily front loaded with commissions. The author is a cofounder of an investment group. I wonder if they sell annuities…

    • Hi there. Apologies for the delayed response. No, we don’t sell annuities – we in fact derive no commissions from the sale of any products. In the article, I do explicitly caution readers “Because annuities are often insurance products, they may come with high fees and commissions.” However, annuities may work for some folks so the intention was to include them as one of several options provided in the article.

  5. TRY THIS “VERY SIMPLE” Plan. Live within your means. If you can afford an item, then buy it. However, if you have debt, then wouldn’t it be a better plan to pay-off the debt first?? I have no sympanthy for those who have lived way beyound what their wallet has in it. My house is paid off, I have no real debt, and to eeven make it sound better, I was out of work for THREE YEARS, some due to illness. So cry me a river and row me a boat. Live for tommorrow, NOT TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. This is silly nonsense.
    Look at what older people did to retire carefree, ask them questions.
    Pay off home 10 years before retirement. Make sure you can cover tax & insurance. You may plan to rent, that is OK if you are OK with it.
    Spend less than you take in. Very old but true statement.
    Insure you and your spouse agree on life style.
    Get completely out of stock market.
    Enjoy the simple things in life. Birds, flowers, family.

    • Hi Jack. Yes, it did require approval before it was visible. It’s now posted. Thanks for adding your thoughts. Very happy to hear you’re on the right track and have been enjoying retired life for some time! Congrats on your success!

  7. Pingback: Four Questions to Guide Your Retirement Planning | The Better Investor @Jemstep

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