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FOX 11 Investigates: More Americans working at 65, lack retirement savings

Many Baby Boomers in the midst of retiring find they have to work longer to make up for lack of retirement savings. (WLUK image)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- More Americans age 65 and older are still on the job, due in a large part to the fact they can't afford to retire.

Government statistics just released show 19 percent of those 65 and over are working today compared to only 10 percent in 1985.

FOX 11 asks the question--are you going to be financially ready to retire?

Baby Boomers Facing Retirement Now

Randy Harbath retired this month after 40 years at Georgia Pacific. Steve Huiting spent a dozen years in the military and the last 25 driving a truck before retiring back in December. Both were hard workers. But only one started saving for retirement with that very first paycheck.

“That dollar you put aside when you're 20 is worth a lot more than the dollar you put aside when you're 60,” said Harbath. “It grows very nicely.”

“I had people all the time say, ‘It's your money why hang onto it?’ Now I know why,” said Huiting.

Huiting did start a 401(k) savings account with his employer early on, but withdrew the funds when finances got tight. Then later didn't contribute what he should have to the plan.

Financial analysts recommend saving 10 percent of your gross income, 15 percent if you can manage it.

Michael Kiley is president of PAi, a company that administers savings plans. FOX 11 asked whether most baby boomers retiring now are prepared financially.

“In general terms, no,” explained Kiley. “On average you have 10,000 people hitting retirement every day. And on average they have 16 months’ worth of savings available to them.”

In fact, statistics show only about 28 percent of Baby Boomers are adequately funded for retirement.

“Correct, so about three out of four people don't have enough money to just continue making the decisions that they've been making today,” said Kiley. “They're going to have to make some lifestyle changes to stretch that dollar.”

“I look back now going, wow, what I should have done compared to what I did do,” said Huiting.

Huiting thought he still had time to save for retirement, but he didn't plan on a medical disability forcing him to retire. His retirement travel plans have been traded in for feeding the birds in his backyard.

“This isn't what I expected to do when I retired,” said Huiting. “I had planned on going as long as I could. I wanted to at least go to 70.”

Harbath says over the years he made sacrifices. He did without some new cars and vacations that others were taking in order to invest more in retirement. Budgets, he said, were a priority.

“So let’s figure out exactly how much we are spending every day and what are we spending it on,” Harbath said explaining his process early on.

As a result of planning and good fortune, Harbath will have plenty of money to travel, hunt and fish in retirement. Interest from his four decades of investments will provide him a regular paycheck as if he never stopped working.

“You have to figure out if I'm happy with my lifestyle today then how do I make sure I have enough money set aside so I can enjoy that lifestyle in retirement,” said Harbath.

More than a quarter of American workers 55 and over say they have less than $10,000 in savings and investments, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Nearly one-third in that age group plans to work to at least 70 if they are able to do so.

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