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Could Assumptions Harm Your Retirement Plan?
Two common misconceptions to think about, provided by Jack Ramsay.
#1) Assuming retirement will last 10–15 years.
Historically, retirement has lasted about 10–15 years for most Americans. The key word here is "historically". When Social Security was created in 1933, the average American could anticipate living to age 58 as a man or 62 as a woman. By 2014, reports indicated life expectancy for the average American had increased to 78.8.1,2
So assuming you'll only need 10 or 15 years worth of retirement money could be a big mistake.
In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics said that the average 65-year-old American male can expect to live to nearly 83. The average 65-year-old American female has an average life expectancy of 85.5.2
#2) Assuming too little risk.
Holding onto your retirement money is certainly important; so is your retirement income and quality of life. Over the last few decades, we have had moderate inflation (and sometimes worse, think 1980). What happens is that over time, even 3–4% inflation gradually saps your purchasing power. Your dollar buys less and less. If your income doesn't keep up with inflation — essentially, you end up living on yesterday's money.
As you retire, you may assume that an extremely conservative approach to investing is mandatory. But given how long we may live — and how long retirement may last — growth investing may be important.