Retirement Options Almost One-Third of American Workers Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Retirement Options

Almost one-third of American workers are failing to prepare themselves for a comfortable retirement, according to a new survey conducted by American Express. The national telephone survey of working adult men and women who had recently left or lost their jobs revealed that 30% did not invest for retirement in their company's 401(k) plan.

The survey also revealed that 16% of these participants rolled their money into an IRA, and the majority of those who rolled their assets said they would make the same decision again. Eleven percent of those surveyed reported that they cashed out of their retirement plan because they needed the money to pay off debt or for everyday living expenses.

While these participants may have felt that these decisions were best for their situations, financial experts would have advised them against going through with their decisions. For example, money invested in a 401 (k) plan is money that grows tax deferred until it's withdrawn, which over time allows an investor to save more money for their retirement.

By law, individuals who withdraw a lump-sum distribution from their 401(k) before age 55 will be assessed a 10% early withdrawal penalty, as well as federal and state income taxes. This means that they will cause serious harm to their retirement funds. However, lack of knowledge and expertise causes many Americans to make poor choices regarding their retirement options.

Saving for retirement is a major challenge for millions of Americans today. With an abundance of retirement options, including tax-deferred retirement plans, 401(k)s and IRAs, investors are often confused about which option will make the most of their savings dollars. This paper aims to provide a review of the fundamental of these powerful retirement options in an effort to provide future retirees with the information needed to start investing in their futures.

This study will examine three major retirement options -- Social Security, 401 (k) plans and IRA Accounts -- in an effort to determine whether one type of option is superior over another. This research will be based on existing literature, which will be collected from a variety of sources, as well as empirical research derived from the opinions of financial professionals. Basically, this paper will reveal whether or not there is a single best retirement option or if different people require different types of investment.

Retirement Options

Chapter One -- Introduction

Statement of the Problem

Purpose of the Study

Scope of the Study

Rationale of the Study

Definition of Terms

Overview of the Study

Chapter Two -- Literature Review

Introduction

All About Social Security

About 401 (k) Plans

How a 401(k) Plan Works

About 401(k) Plans

Advantages of 401 (k) Plans

Maximizing the Potential of a 401 (k) Plan

About IRAs

The Benefits of an IRA

IRAs in a Nutshell

The Traditional IRA

The Roth IRA

Chapter Three -- Methodology

Approach to Study

Data Gathering Method

Database of Study

Validity of Data

Originality and Limitations of Study

Chapter Four -- Data Analysis

Chapter Five -- Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

Retirement Options

Chapter One -- Introduction

Statement of the Problem

Saving enough money for retirement is one of the greatest financial challenges faced by individuals today. It requires careful planning, a commitment to regular investing, and understanding which retirement options are best for different needs.

According to experts, human beings are distinguished from other species by a unique ability to think ahead and to plan ahead (The Motley Fool 2003)). While this is true, it is also true that many people have a hard time thinking about the long-term future and adequately planning for it. Many people are too busy living in the moment to realize that things have a way of changing quickly.

In this regard, human beings share the immediacy of many other types of animals. Therefore, many people shrug off the tedious task of saving for retirement. However, understanding one's retirement options and planning for retirement are keys to being ready for the future when it becomes the present. According to The Motley Fool (2003): "The younger you are, the more distant is retirement -- and the more power you have at your fingertips in the form of compound returns over time. It's a paradox that you can work to your advantage."

David Braze, a specialist in retirement planning, suggests asking the following questions before looking at various retirement options (The Motley Fool, 2003):

How much will I need for my retirement in order to live comfortably?

What are my goals?

When should I start?

What should I do?

How much can I count on from Social Security?

What costs might I run into once I've actually retired?

According to Braze, "These are the questions that we all need to ask; questions that we often wait too long to ask; questions that surface dimly on occasion, in a remote and dusty corner of the mind, a mind that is otherwise occupied with this minute's conversation, today's project, tonight's movie, and tomorrow's meeting (The Motley Fool, 2003)."

To understand which retirement options are best suited for various needs, it is important to first look at retirement plans. To address the retirement needs of individuals, there are several retirement options. However, each of these options has positive and negative aspects, so it is important that investors understand the ups and downs of all major retirement options in order to maximize their savings capabilities.

Purpose of the Study

Government, employer, and individually sponsored retirement plans are all good ways to save up for retirement. In today's society, it seems that relying on Social Security is a poor choice, as these programs are not likely to provide the same income level in the next decade. However, there are so many complex retirement options that investors often do not know where to begin. For this reason, this paper has compiled a list of major retirement options that can help investors plan an enjoyable retirement.

This research study aims to describe three major retirement options, describing how each one can be good or bad. Finally, the paper will determine which option is the best solution for retirement investments.

Scope of the Study

As all types of retirement options appear to have flaws and many investors lack the knowledge to determine which options are best for their individual needs, existing research suggests a strong need for a clear and concise report on retirement options.

This research paper will examine the history of retirement options, existing research on various options, the behavior patterns of investors, and the flaws and benefits of each option to determine which options are the best choice for individuals today.

Rationale of the Study

Most people dream of retiring while they are still young and healthy enough to enjoy the rewards of years of hard work (Starchild, 2002). However, these dreams usually require a standard of living at least as good as one's current standard of living. For this reason, individuals must determine how they will support that standard of living. Fortunately, there are a variety of retirement options available to help people meet their retirement goals.

At age 65, the average man will live almost 19 more years, while the average woman will live another 22 years. The majority of the population will spend 25% to 30% of their lives in retirement, requiring vast sums of money to maintain an enjoyable lifestyle.

Social security and pensions replace only 40% to 60% of the average retiree's pre-retirement income.

A recent study indicates that individuals between the ages of 25 and 44 are only saving 34% of the amount needed to support their current lifestyle in retirement. The study suggests that individuals without a pension should have savings equal to approximately four to eight times their peak annual earnings. Those covered by a pension plan need approximately two and a half to six times their pre-retirement annual earnings.

Only 57% of those eligible to contribute to 401(k)s do so, less than 15% of the 67 million workers eligible to contribute to a fully deductible IRA do so, and only 12% of the self-employed have retirement plans.

SOURCE: Starchild, Adam. (2002). The Retirement Center. FamilyHaven.com.

According to Adam Starchild (2002), the word "retirement" has many positive connotations. "Traditionally, retirement has signified a release from the drudgery of work. Retirement has always meant freedom and, with luck, an active, carefree leisure, " he says. "It has meant rest, relaxation and the chance to pursue long-postponed dreams and ambitions. Retirement, after all, is the period when those of us who have worked a lifetime finally have a chance to relax and do what we want. At retirement, the doors to the world of freedom from having to work, normally closed to all but the privileged few, are suddenly thrown open to everyone. But that is only one side of retirement."

However, Starchild is quick to point out that there is another less pleasant side of retirement, as it means giving up one's career. "Nobody likes to get benched and, on one level,…

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