At retirement, a bigger nest egg is just the start of the saver's advantage. Even though you'll be using the money to help pay your bills, the savings that remain in your 401(k) or individual retirement account will keep on making long-term gains. "Roughly half of your total lifetime investment return comes from earnings on your savings after you retire and start withdrawing money," says Don Ezra, a retirement wealth consultant and cochair of Global Consulting, Russell Investments.
What if your nest egg is invested more conservatively and doesn't earn an average of 7 percent over 10 years? "In a low-rate-of-return environment, higher contributions to savings make an even more striking difference" to your retirement finances, VanDerhei says.
EBRI estimates that about half of all boomers will have more than enough income and savings for an adequate retirement. Those falling behind tend to have modest incomes, with single women in more trouble than couples or single men. People without access to a 401(k) or other automatic savings account also are falling behind.
By the way, you were probably surprised to learn that a balanced stock/bond portfolio earned nearly 7 percent over the past 10 years. At the moment, we tend to remember crashing stocks, low interest rates and sluggish growth. But the past decade proves the value of the tried-and-true investment formula: Buy, diversify with mutual funds, hold, reinvest dividends and rebalance to maintain your target allocation of stocks and bonds.
"Power saving" now is the way to go. If you lack money at retirement, you'll have to lower your spending anyway, and by much more.
Consult your financial adviser regarding your personal situation.
Jane Bryant Quinn is a personal finance expert and author of Making the Most of Your Money NOW. She writes regularly for the Bulletin.