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60 and panicked about my 403B

I'll try to cut to the chase. I just turned 60 and I know that I will be woefully short of the $1million to $1.5 million I guess I'm supposed to have by full retirement age. (I don't even dare look at my balance, but I think it's probably somewhere between $275K and $300K!)

 

I make a good income now, but fear that I will simply have to be one of those people who works full time until the day I die. It's more than a little depressing.

 

Yes, I'm trying to "do what I can" now by putting as much as I can afford into my retirement account each month--but based on what I've read, it will be largely futile. 

 

I'm so embarrassed that I dodge the topic when my spouse makes general references to her various dreams about "when we retire." I'm afraid to visit with her the reality, for fear of crushing her spirit. Pretty weak of me, huh?! To be clear, she isn't talking about dreams in a bougie way, but in a general excitement way about what we will be able to do together.

 

I know, I know, we have to face the music together very soon. I'm taking the first painful step to that end by meeting with my TIAA-Cref advisor next week (alone). I figure I need the time to process a bit before sharing with my spouse and having a 2nd meeting that will go into deeper detail.

 

I assume the people reading these boards have been much smarter and more disciplined than I have been in saving for retirement. Oh how I wish I were one of you! 

 

I'm in the mode now of wondering what we have to look forward to, knowing our financial plight puts us behind the 8 ball. Sorry for the pity party! I know I should focus on the blessings of fairly good health and family--totally get that. But I wanted to ensure my spouse and I had a better exit strategy than the path in front of us will provide.

 

If you have any good coping or planning suggestions, I'd love to hear from you. Please just go easy on me a bit, if you can :). Thanks in advance!

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Regular Contributor

Oh no, no, no, there was no dig intended.  You are making the right move by continuing to contribute to your retirement plan, and soon meeting with an advisor.  There is a lot to consider when retiring, and the advisor will want to know a lot about your financial situation, and your goals in retirement.  At this point, just try to keep saving, and prioritize your purchases. 

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@Prestonator As you may or may not know, 403 B Plans are defined contribution plans established by non profit organizations. Teachers or educators are probably the largest group of participants. Many school districts also provide a defined benefit plan (monthly pension) in addition to a 403 B Plan. It is not clear if your employer provides both types of plans. It would be helpful if you provided your occupation and whether or not you participate in a defined benefit plan or another type of deferred compensation plan. Your advisor should be asking similar questions. So, for comparison purposes, google informs us that the average 401 K plan balance at retirement is approximately $255 K which is close to your current balance. Remember, the key word is "average". Your current balance may be very good if you have other retirement plans or not so good if your 403 B is your only retirement plan. For example, if you participate in a defined benefit plan and at retirement are eligible for a monthly pension of $2,000/month, the present value of that benefit is $382,485 based on $24,000/year for 22 years at a 3% discount rate (the factor is 15.9369. FYI, I used 22 years based on age 62 retirement and average life expectancy for males of age 84. Females have a greater present value due to a longer average life expectancy of approximately age 87. If someone is interested in the math, that present value would be $417,916 which is $24 K per year X 17.4132 (factor for age 87). You can do the math if your monthly benefit is larger (i.e., $3,000/month or $36,000 per year or $573,7238). So, if you have a defined benefit plan in addition to the 403 B plan, you may be close to the $1 million benchmark that you are seeking. My suggestion is to make sure your advisor develops a strategy that incorporates all retirement approaches that you may have utilized over the years. Hope this helps.

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Regular Contributor

Your spouse does not know your finances?  

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Yes we communicate openly on monthly finances. And we both share a general knowledge of our 403 B retirement contributions but prior to this point neither one of us have confronted the realities of what it does or doesn’t add up to.

 

So if your question was some kind of dig like I’m a male chauvinist living in the 1950s, you would be very wrong about that :). 

thanks though for your pointed question.

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Regular Contributor

Oh no, no, no, there was no dig intended.  You are making the right move by continuing to contribute to your retirement plan, and soon meeting with an advisor.  There is a lot to consider when retiring, and the advisor will want to know a lot about your financial situation, and your goals in retirement.  At this point, just try to keep saving, and prioritize your purchases. 

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