Scores are everywhere these days. You can get your credit score, see how many steps you took in a day, and get a score for many other things. So why not see your progress toward a big goal—your ability to stop working full time, aka retirement, and enjoy life full time?
The Fidelity Retirement ScoreSM does just that. It takes about 60 seconds to answer six simple questions to find out where you stand. Whatever your score, you can take some simple, clear steps to stay on track or improve it.
What the score is
The Fidelity Retirement Score measures whether you are on track to cover your estimated essential expenses1 in retirement, based on comprehensive survey data and our retirement planning methodology.
There are four categories on the retirement preparedness spectrum based on your ability to cover estimated retirement expenses, even in a down market2:
- Dark green: On Track (96 or over). You are on track to cover 95% or more of total estimated expenses.
- Green: Good (81-95). On track to cover essential expenses, but not discretionary expenses like travel, entertainment, etc.
- Yellow: Fair (65-80). Not on track to sufficiently cover all essential retirement expenses, with modest adjustments to your planned lifestyle likely.
- Red: Needs Attention (less than 65). Not on track to sufficiently cover all essential retirement expenses, with significant adjustments to your planned lifestyle likely.
Where Americans stand
How are we doing? Overall, America’s retirement score (representing the median state of retirement readiness) is 76 out of 150+—just four points away from the green zone, where people are on track to cover at least essential expenses, like food, housing, transportation, and health care, in retirement.3
“Think about our retirement score as your likely retirement income as a proportion of your needs,” explains Adheesh Sharma, vice president of financial solutions for Fidelity Strategic Advisers, Inc. “In other words, a score of 96 or more would indicate that you’re on track to cover your expenses in retirement and puts you squarely in the green zone.”
Four ways to improve retirement readiness
What if you need to improve your score? “Our analysis finds that four ‘accelerators’ can have a big impact on your retirement readiness,” says Sharma. “In fact, when all four are applied, America’s median score jumps to 118—a good place to be to truly enjoy your retirement years.” Here are the four ways that can improve your retirement readiness.
|1.||Save more and smarter.|
We did the math, and aiming to save at least 15% of your income a year throughout your working life can help keep you on track to a comfortable retirement. While 15% may seem like a lot, if you have a 401(k) or other workplace retirement account with an employer match or profit sharing, that employer match or profit sharing counts toward your annual savings rate. (Read Viewpoints: “How much should I save each year?”) And if you can’t get to that amount just yet, saving just a bit more each year can make a big difference.
How savings can improve your score: Adjusting the savings rate to at least 15% increases the median retirement score of 76 to 84. That moves the score from fair to good.
|2.||Go for growth.|
You need your savings to grow. That’s why we suggest investing a significant portion of your savings over the course of your lifetime in a mix of U.S. and international stocks and stock mutual funds—generally more when you are in your 20s, 30s, and 40s and less as you near and enter retirement. Stocks have historically outperformed bonds and cash over the long term. So if you are investing for a goal like retirement that is years away, it can make sense to have more of your savings invested in stocks and stock mutual funds. Aim for a portfolio with exposure to various types of investments that can provide the opportunity for growth and outpace inflation, while also providing some downside protection.
Of course, stocks come with more ups and downs than bonds or cash, so you need to be comfortable with those risks. But over time, history has shown that disciplined saving and investing for long-term growth has paid off. Read Viewpoints: “Three reasons to invest in stocks.”
How investing for growth can help improve your score: By adjusting the mix of investments so that they are not too conservative or too aggressive, the median retirement score of 76 increases to 78.4
The longer you can wait to retire, the more time you have to save, and the more time you have to give your savings the potential to grow. Plus, waiting until at least the time you can get full Social Security benefits will help increase your monthly benefit. If you can afford to wait until your full retirement age (FRA), typically from 65 to 67 depending on your date of birth, your monthly Social Security income may increase by up to 30%. And if you wait even longer to claim, your monthly benefit will increase by 8% more per year up until age 70. Read Viewpoints: “Working in retirement: a rulebook” and “How to get the most from Social Security.”
How retiring later can change your score: By adjusting the expected retirement age slightly, from the median reported retirement age of 65 to between 66 or 67, the median retirement score of 76 increases to 86.
|4.||Spend less in retirement.|
If you’re years and years away from retiring, it certainly isn’t easy to know how much you’ll spend in retirement. And even if you’re closer to retirement, you may not know either. In general, most people do end up spending less when they’re no longer working. Why the drop? Well, you don’t need to save for retirement once you’re retired. And not working generally means lower taxes, less need for life insurance, and lower day-to-day expenses. You may also have been able to pay off your mortgage.
How spending less in retirement can change your score: By spending 15% less in retirement, the median retirement score of 76 increases to 89.
It’s worth it.
Think about it this way: Do you want to worry about money when you’re retired? It may be the first time you have freedom to do what you want, when you want, so it’s important to check in regularly on your progress. Get your score today to see where you stand and take control of your future. If you aren’t currently on track, don’t worry—there are things that you can do that can make a difference.
Fidelity does not provide legal or tax advice. The information herein is general in nature and should not be considered legal or tax advice. Consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific situation.
Stock markets are volatile and can decline significantly in response to adverse issuer, political, regulatory, market, or economic developments.
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