"Savings? There is no savings! Get real," Stephanie Tucker, 66, said to me last week over breakfast at the Pop 'N Sons Diner on North Dale Mabry in Tampa.
"By the time you work, pay your utilities and food, you've got a nickel to 5 dollars to put in savings," she added.
Tucker is one of a growing number of Americans who expect they'll never be able to retire -- nearly 20% of Americans age 65 and older are still employed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That would be the most older people working since Medicare was created in the 1960s.
Another 51 percent of Americans who are 50 and older said they expect to keep working at least past the age of 65, according to the TransAmerica Center's most recent survey.
The biggest reason people will keep working is because they simply don't have enough money.
Just 20 percent of Americans age 55 and older say they expect to have enough money to live comfortably during retirement, according to a 2016 Retirement Confidence Survey by EBRI.
Many more Americans may think they'll be able to retire, but aren't as financially sound as they thought.
"They'll come in and say, 'Here's everything I saved, here's how much money I want to have in retirement,'" explains Certfied Financial Planner Lori Nadglowski, "and we have to tell them you really haven't saved enough."
It's a really tough conversation to have, says Nadglowski, but it's also avoidable.
"If they had come to us maybe 10 years out from when they were about to retire we could sit down with them and maybe make some adjustments," said Nadglowski, who started the business Laurel Wealth Management, LLC.
Those adjustments can include selling a home and renting instead (since the cost of homeownership can be expensive), not paying off "bad debt" first, and choosing a bad tax strategy.
"They might not be able to retire in the timeframe they intended but we can give them some advice and maybe if they worked part-time or they extended their date out a little bit longer, made some changes with Social Security, that they would be able to [retire eventually]," Nadglowski said.
Nadglowski says there are several other factors that are leading people to having more trouble retiring by age 62 or age 65 like than used to during the 1990s:
- People are living longer than they used to
- Having families later in life than they used to
- Paying for higher education for their children
- Taking on too much debt
Procrastination, and not making a plan, are two of the biggest mistakes people make, says Nadglowski.
NEW RULE SHOULD HELP
Nadglowski thinks people would have more success if they met with a financial planner and points to a new rule that should give consumers more confidence about choosing an advisor.
Every planner now must put a link to BrokerCheck.com right on the front of their website.
The financial regulatory agency FINRA.org runs the website and has long monitored the industry. The new rule about posting a link went into effect just a few weeks ago.
If you don't see a link, don't trust the planner.
"I have a fiduciary standard. I have ethics requirements. I have training requirements. I had to pass an examination in order to get my certification," said Nadglowski, who says there's an easy way to make sure that the advisor you pick is a good one.
BrokerCheck.com will show you if there are any complaints against the advisor, where they went to school, and where they have worked.
HELP FOR LOW-INCOME HOMES
If you don't think you can accord seeing a financial planner, the local United Way offers a new "financial coaching" program for people in low-income situations in Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties.
The United Way Suncoast Financial Coaching Program trains and partners volunteers with individuals who are ready to take control of their financial situation. Together, they develop an action plan and appropriate steps needed to achieve their financial goals.
The program recruits volunteer financial coaches, who are trained to help people from low- and moderate-income households to develop a financial plan to achieve their financial goals.
SMART MONEY GOALS
The AARP has a list of 10 "smart money goals" to help make savings last through retirement.
1. Don't take Social Security too early
2. Don't say 'Take this job and shove it'
3. Don't underestimate your lifespan
4. Factor in health care costs
5. Don't ignore major expenses
6. Consider long-term care
7. Don't fall for scams
8. Simplify your finances
9. Keep track of pensions
10. Don't miss your Medicare deadline
The AARP article explains each goal and gives a tip on how to achieve them.