Are You Financially Prepared for Old Age?

(Photo by Mariia Chalaya on Unsplash)

New data shows that many Americans are not financially prepared for their old age.

The number of 50- to 59-year-olds with adequate savings to quit work at retirement age in 2007 was about 68 percent. As a result of the recession, government-induced slow economic growth and low interest rates on savings, the percentage is now down to about 56 percent in 2017. These same factors are responsible for a slight decline in mean personal income for seniors between ages 55 to 69. At the same time, the number of over 55-year-olds with debt has crept up from 65 percent to 70 percent. For many Americans, the dream of a work-free old age is simply not achievable.

Worse, recently released data shows that financial instability can take a toll on your health. A 20-year study of people in their 50s found that those who had not saved for old age were 67 percent more likely to die early than savers. Those who had saved, but suffered a catastrophic loss, were 50 percent more likely to die early. The study cited loss of control as a major factor triggering stress and anxiety. It is this fear of failure to reach retirement goals and an uncertain future which damages the body and leads to an early death.

To regain control of your life and overcome fear, the place to start is to understand God's plan for aging. The Bible says that the righteous are to bear fruit in old age (Ps. 92:12-14). Old age is to be a time of continued productivity enhanced by the increased wisdom of a long life (Job 12:12). We can continue to rely on God's provision as we age (Ps. 37:25), and His promise of hope and a future (Jer. 29:11) still stands. Our modern concept of retirement is found nowhere in the Bible.

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The truth is that people were never intended to quit all productive activities. Those who reach old age with adequate financial resources can afford to invest their efforts in their families, their church and other socially beneficial activities, in order to remain healthy and productive. These who lack sufficient resources just have to add some amount of work to that mix.

Once the necessity of continuing to work is recognized, the most crucial step to overcome fear is to adjust attitudes and expectations based on this reality. Look for work which will meet your need for income but will also give you the opportunity to use your experience and wisdom. For some, this means continuation of an existing career or business. For others, there is the opportunity to move into a less stressful or more satisfying, if lower paying, job. A few even start new and successful careers in their old age, like Col. Sanders, who started Kentucky Fried Chicken at age 70.

You should also develop a Debt Relief Plan so that your retirement income is not burdened with debt. An exception would be your home, if you have equity, because your equity will increase as you pay down your debt and the real estate market continues its recovery. Some folks even file bankruptcy as a preparatory step to retirement.

The bottom line is you can live and prosper in an old age of working retirement. Just take charge of your financial future, get out of debt and find something you can enjoy doing.

The future holds no fear for those who fear the Lord (Ps. 34:6-10).

Ron Allen is a Christian businessman, CPA and author who serves in local, national and international ministries, spreading a message of reconciliation to God, to men and between believers. He is founder of the International Star Bible Society, telling how the heavens declare the glory of God; the Emancipation Network, which helps people escape from financial bondage; and co-founder with his wife, Pat, of Corporate Prayer Resources, dedicated to helping intercessors.

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