Should you save enough to live to 100?

common-retirement-mistakesFirst, you were supposed to die at 85. Then 90. Now 95 and even 100 are common defaults when financial planners tell people how much to save for retirement.

Except that’s nuts.

In the U.S., the typical man at age 65 is expected to live another 18 years. The typical woman, about 20. Yet many financial planners contend we should save as if we’re all going to be centenarians.

In my new column for the Associated Press, why we need to save for the retirement we’re most likely to have.

The Smartest Financial Decision You’ll Ever Make

common-retirement-mistakesThere’s really only one thing young people need know about money: Save for retirement, starting now.

Yes, at some point you’ll want to pay off your debt, have an emergency fund and buy a home. Right now, though, you’re burning through your most limited resource, which is time. You can’t make more of it, you can’t get it back when it’s gone, and you have a limited window to harness its power.

In my latest for NerdWallet, why it’s imperative for young people to start saving for retirement immediately.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: When hybrid long-term care insurance makes sense. Also in the news: How to tell whether your credit card authorized user could become a problem, what pro athletes can teach us about retirement planning, and the 7 habits of highly effective investors.

When Hybrid Long-Term Care Insurance Makes Sense
Planning for the future.

7 Ways to Tell Whether Your Credit Card Authorized User Will Be a Problem
Proceed with caution.

What Pro Athletes Can Teach Us About Retirement Planning
Living below your means can protect your future.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Investors
Using your money wisely.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

common-retirement-mistakesToday’s top story: College counselors spill financial aid secrets. Also in the news: How to tell if you’re on track for retirement, why new grads have a huge retirement savings advantage, and the 401(k) mistakes that could cost you a bundle.

College Counselors Spill 6 Financial Aid Secrets
Get the inside scoop.

Do the Math to Tell If You’re on Track for Retirement
Checking your progress.

New grads have a huge retirement savings advantage
How much will you have in 40 years?

The 401(k) Mistakes That Could Cost You a Bundle
Pay close attention.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What you need to know about the new Social Security changes. Also in the news: Deciding between leasing or buying a car, how new graduates starting a business should manage their debt, and what to know before rolling over your 401(k).

What You Should Know About the New Social Security Rules
Big changes.

Lease or Buy a Car? Answer 7 Questions to Find Out
Deciding what’s right for you.

4 Essential Tips for Grads Starting a Business Despite Student Debt
Managing both.

3 things to know when rolling over your 401(k)
Be aware of what you’re getting into.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

18ixgvpiu0s24jpgToday’s top story: Why you shouldn’t wait for a 401(k) to start saving for retirement. Also in the news: Cell phone options for when you’re traveling overseas, credit problems that can destroy your home-buying dreams, and five crucial retirement years for your money.

Don’t Wait for a 401(k) to Start Saving for Retirement
Don’t wait to start saving period.

Cell Phone Options When You’re Traveling Overseas
Keeping your bill as low as possible.

5 credit problems that can destroy your home dreams
Tackling issues before you buy a home.

5 crucial retirement years for your money
Years to pay attention to.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Wills-in-TexasToday’s top story: Ranking the cheapest cars to insure. Also in the news: Why you need to have a will, the financial perks of downsizing, and how much money you need to save monthly to reach your retirement goal.

Ranking the Cheapest Cars to Insure
Being a smart shopper.

Prince Had No Will, Reports Say — But You Should
Don’t let the government inherit your estate.

The Financial Perks of Downsizing
Going small can mean a bigger bank balance.

This Retirement Calculator Tells You How Much to Save Monthly to Reach Your Goal
How close are you?

Q&A: Catching up on retirement savings

Dear Liz: I just found out I am cured of cancer. I thought I would be dead in three years and thus did not save very much. I’m 62, single, with no children and an annual salary of $85,000. I’m now contributing the maximum to my employer’s 403(b) retirement plan plus $6,500 to a Roth IRA. My mortgage balance is $380,000 on a 30-year loan fixed at 3.65%. I have about $380,000 in equity. I have about $30,000 saved outside of my $10,000 emergency fund. What should I do with it to get the highest return with minimal risk?

Answer: There’s no such thing as an investment that offers high returns with minimal risk. You get one or the other.

There’s also no such thing as “making up” for decades of not saving, short of an extremely unlikely windfall such as a lottery win or a big inheritance. This is why financial planners tell young people to start saving for retirement from their first paychecks and not to stop or touch those funds prematurely. Waiting until the last minute simply won’t work, and the longer you delay the tougher it will be to catch up — until catching up becomes impossible.

Still, at some point you won’t be able to keep working, so you need to save what you can. The more you save, the better off you’ll be.

Continue to take full advantage of your retirement savings options. Thanks to catch-up provisions, you can put up to $24,000 in your workplace retirement fund (the 2016 limit of $18,000 plus a $6,000 “catch up” for those 50 and over) and $6,500 into an IRA or Roth IRA (the 2016 limit of $5,500 plus a $1,000 catch-up). You’ve saving more than a third of your income, and several years of contributions like that will go a long way toward easing your final years. A balanced approach to your investments, with 50% to 60% in stocks, should give you the growth you’ll need to overcome inflation over the decades to come.

Your home could be another source of funds. Downsizing or moving to a lower-cost area could free up some of your equity to bolster your nest egg. Another option could be a reverse mortgage, but make sure you get objective, expert advice before you proceed.

Finally, it’s crucial to delay claiming Social Security as long as possible, since this benefit is likely to comprise most of your income in retirement and you want that check to be as large as possible. Try to put off claiming until age 70 when your benefit maxes out.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

file_161555_0_tax refundToday’s top story: Using your tax refund to secure your future. Also in the news: Frequent overdrafters lose hundreds in fees, what to do before age 40 to retire comfortably, and how viewing your budget as a circle instead of a list can provide more flexibility.

5 Ways to Use Your Tax Refund to Secure Your Future
Protecting what you have, while still having a little fun.

Heaviest Overdrafters Pay a Week’s Wages in Fees, Study Finds
Creating a vicious circle.

10 Things to Do Before Age 40 to Retire Comfortably
Tick tock.

View Your Budget as a Circle Instead of a List to Be More Flexible
Giving yourself a little breathing room.