Jul 24, 2023 - News

Tampa Bay residents fret over retirement

Illustration of a nervous piggy bank with a sweat drop on its face.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Florida's retirees may be better off than the next generation, but everyone's financial future seems uncertain.

Driving the news: Many Americans who haven't yet retired say they are unprepared to do so and unsure how to prepare and if they even want to fully exit the workforce, according to a new Axios-Ipsos poll.

  • One in 5 say they don't think they ever will.
  • Just 36% of people 55 and older — nearing typical retirement age — say they'll be able to at the time they expected.

Why it matters: Fewer workers have access to reliable pensions, writes Axios' Felix Salmon. Most Americans retiring now are the first generation to instead rely primarily on private savings to navigate the financial vortex once they age out of work.

By the numbers: 30% of people still in the workforce plan to use a pension, compared with 54% of retirees who say they're using pension money.

  • On top of that, "roughly half the workforce, we’re talking 50 plus million people, work for an employer that doesn’t offer a retirement plan," David John, a senior policy adviser at AARP, tells Axios. That could mean a small business or gig work.

Zoom in: Most Tampa Bay retirees that responded said they feel they have enough money to sustain their pre-retirement lifestyle, but most also had worries related to their homes and the real estate market.

  • Julie S., in Venice, said buying a home will mean dipping into 401k and savings she and her husband need for retirement.
  • "I'm afraid that we will be limited in retirement worrying about how the market impacts our funds. This is not how I imagined my life to be when I retired," she said.

Robin and Dave, who split time between Clearwater and Wisconsin, are frustrated with their inability to get home loans after retiring last year.

  • "We have over $1 million in assets and can't get a loan for a roof or a home loan because of no projected monthly income from a job, even though we have cash, 401k and assets with tons of equity. "

Alan B., whose retirement includes a government pension, sold his condo in Channelside to live in a small Ybor bungalow after retiring in 2014 to reduce property taxes.

  • "I'm trying to navigate exploding home and car insurance costs this year without having to drain my fast-depleting savings for emergencies and getting the work done to my place that would mitigate (needing to buy a new roof)."

Be smart: Jeff Johnson, director of AARP Florida and a St. Petersburg resident, warns that scammers and those who may not have your best interest in mind may try to make a buck off of those fretting about retirement.

  • He suggests looking for advisers with a fiduciary responsibility, meaning they commit to making decisions for what is good for their client, not what is good for their own compensation.
  • "There's a lot of value in knowing how anybody you turn to for advice is making their money off of the conversation," Johnson said.

Of note: There are plenty of ways to find the best financial adviser and avoid scams, like AARP's online tool to screen financial advisers, its Fraud Watch Network and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's resources on avoiding investment scams.

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