The Lowdown on the Banking Crisis and What it Means for Retirees
May 15, 2023
In the midst of the Great Retirement, an excess of 2.6 million retirees left the workforce during the pandemic. “A lot of people had reasons to retire and the way markets evolved allowed them to,” says research economist Miguel Faria-E-Castro. While health and safety concerns were very real for many, others chose to leave early because of changing work environments or needing to become full time caregivers; others simply took advantage of rising asset values.
The pandemic isn’t solely to blame for the influx of retirees, though. The Employee Benefit Research Institute regularly finds that many Americans end up retiring earlier than planned. Whether you’ve already retired or intend to soon, it may be important to factor the recent banking crisis into your planning.
Understanding the Banking Crisis
In March 2023, the United States’ Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) suddenly collapsed, mainly in part due to a bank run, when their customers rushed to withdraw their funds over panic due to the bank’s loss of stocks. The failure of this California-based bank raised concerns for Americans about the financial health of their own assets, even though the Federal Reserve, Treasury department, and FDIC moved quickly to ensure that all depositors would have full access to their funds, a move meant to calm fears of a full market collapse. Financial experts believe that because of these unprecedented actions, the failure of SVB does not pose a threat to the financial market at this time.
While deposits of up to $250,000 are FDIC insured, many people are wondering if their 401(k) is protected, and the short answer is: It depends. If your 401(k) is uninsured and invested in “stocks, bonds, or mutual funds, you’re not covered against those investments losing value,” then your funds are not protected under the FDIC guarantee, according to finance professor Valentina Bruno. Retirement plans that the FDIC does cover include IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, and SIMPLE IRAs, up to $250,000, but if you had more than one of these (each valued at over $250,000) at the same banking institution, then only one of them would be insured. This is why it may be a good idea to spread your assets out over different institutions.
Planning for Retirement
If you haven’t retired yet, hopefully you’ve begun planning and saving already, because the earlier you start, the more time your money has to grow. If you’re offered a 401(k) retirement plan through employment, it’s important to take advantage and get enrolled. Even better, if the plan allows you to make contributions, do so and you’ll be rewarded with lower taxes at the end of the year. The biggest mistake people make, according to financial expert Jim Yih, is starting too late. “All my clients, no matter how much they have saved, say they wish they’d started earlier.” Yih’s first recommendation is to put away 10 percent of your gross income, starting as soon as you can.
Become the Expert of Your Retirement
While learning all about retirement plans may be intimidating, many financial advisors actually recommend becoming an expert of your own retirement options. If you are not offered a 401(k) through employment, there are other options, including an IRA, which is a plan that you would open yourself through a broker or other provider. Since there are many types of IRA accounts, the most common being a Traditional or Roth IRA, it’s important to learn about the different conditions of each account before deciding which is the best fit for you. Financial author Liz Weston encourages everyone “to consult a fee-only financial planner or accredited financial counselor if at all possible before retiring, simply because there are so many decisions that have to be made.”
No matter the kind of account you choose, the first step is to determine how much money you’ll need when you retire. Experts advise replacing 70 to 90% of your annual pre-retirement income through Social Security and savings. The next step is to determine what your financial goals are now, such as paying off a mortgage or other debts and saving for your childrens’ college tuition. Factoring in these financial boundaries help put retirement budgets into perspective. Yih warns that, “It’s almost impossible [to do it all] unless you have a big income, and even then, things don’t always work out,” so he tells people to choose two or three focal areas that are most important to them.
Exercising Financial Resilience
In order to increase financial resilience, one must learn to anticipate the unexpected. While 60% of families faced a financial emergency last year, one third faced two. If any of your retirement accounts were affected by the banking crisis, then you may have experienced an unexpected loss firsthand. It’s best to prepare for this and diversify your retirement plan. A good rule is to make sure 80% of your savings are invested in methods that have stood the test of time, while 20% of your funds are involved in higher-risk investments.
Thanks to Social Security, whatever your retirement accounts are, you can still plan on collecting something after the age of 65. This also means that if you were affected by the banking crisis and are 65 or older, then you can still count on these benefits. If you intend to retire earlier than 65, then you want to include this factor in your planning. For instance, how much money will you need to carry health insurance before you’re eligible for Medicaid at 65? Since “Social Security is guaranteed income that is adjusted for inflation,” Weston advises delaying Social Security benefits for as long as you can.
Consider part-time work, not just for the supplementary income it will provide, but for the purpose it will likely bring to your life. The lifestyle component of your retirement is as important as having enough money to retire. “The most successful retirees are not the ones with the most money. The busiest retirees are the most successful ones,” says Yih.
Planning for retirement and financial resilience can provide peace of mind and allow you to focus on what really matters. The resolve you’ll feel after tackling financial planning is priceless. Insureyouknow.org can help you store all of your financial information in one place so that your retirement planning remains organized. Plus, when everything is easy to assess, periodically reassessing your finances when circumstances change becomes painless and straightforward.