In Our View: Golden Years Need Nest Egg

Vancouver seen as good place to retire, but be sure to set enough money aside

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We like lists. A lot of people like lists. So many, in fact, that in our short-attention-span culture, some successful websites have built readership using nothing but lists. So, when Livability.com makes a list of the best places to retire and ranks Vancouver at No. 6, we take notice.

Vancouver was lauded for “an educated population, a progressive arts-and-culture scene, and a wide array of outdoor recreational opportunities.” It also earned points for “sharing Portland’s perpetually cool weather.” In addition, there is plenty of beautiful scenery both in Vancouver and nearby, a fact that is attractive to residents young and old.

Not that we have to take Livability.com’s word for it. A quick internet search reveals lists of the “best cities to retire” have been published by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Money magazine, AARP, CNBC, Business Insider, etc., etc. WalletHub not only ranked the best cities for retirement, but also the worst, which put an end to any thoughts we had of eventually settling in Detroit or Newark, N.J.

Yet while Americans spend much time pondering retirement and assessing which cities would be ideal for our post-working years, we need to start doing more to save for that retirement. As the Employee Benefit Research Institute has reported, about one in four workers say they and their spouse have saved less than $1,000 for retirement, and about one in two have saved less than $25,000. It doesn’t take a Milton Friedman to figure out that $25,000 won’t last long once you begin your retirement.

Earlier this year, CNBC consulted experts in the field and published some handy guidelines for savings. They recommend that by age 50, you should have five times your annual salary saved for retirement; by 55, you should have six times your annual salary saved, and by 60 it should be seven times that amount.

Of course, this is just one suggestion. But other personal-finance experts offer similar recommendations — even if Americans don’t often listen. As CNBC reported: “The discrepancy between what workers know they should do and what they manage to do may be why so many Americans’ No. 1 financial regret involves not saving enough: A whopping 46 percent of adults surveyed by Bankrate about their biggest money mistakes wish they had squirreled more away.”

It’s not breaking news to say that Americans are not saving enough for retirement. As recently as 25 years ago, about 38 percent of U.S. workers had defined pension plans from their employers; now, that number is less than 13 percent and is steadily declining. Those pensions have largely been replaced by 401(k) savings plans, but not enough workers take advantage of that option.

The first recommendation from financial planners typically is to contribute to your company’s saving plan at a level that generates the maximum matching contribution. If your workplace does not offer a 401(k), experts suggest opening a Roth IRA and regularly contributing to it. That might not sound as exciting as buying a new car or paying monthly for the mega-max satellite TV package, but it will be a wise investment in the long run.

And yet, we digress. The point here is to celebrate Vancouver’s status as one of the best cities in the country for retirement, at least according to Livability.com, and to offer a friendly reminder that enjoying retirement in the future requires a little planning now — lest you wind up in a city that typically lands at the bottom of various lists.