Layin’ It on the Line: The vanishing of the middle class
Current economic research confirms what many working people have long suspected — the middle class in America is vanishing at an astonishing rate.
Multiple surveys and research studies indicate that Americans, especially middle-class Americans, feel less prosperous now than at any time in at last 50 years.
Such findings represent the most downbeat assessments of personal progress in the last half-century. Of course, the pandemic has only made things worse.
An alarming number of people say they feel they haven’t made any progress in their financial lives. Many feel they are moving backward and that their status as “middle class” is questionable.
An economic downturn fueled by the pandemic, upheavals in the stock market, joblessness and an overall lack of faith in government solutions has contributed to the high numbers of people who say they can’t get ahead. Retirement planning is out of the question.
Inflation-adjusted, the median household incomes have been in decline since 1999. Taxes have increased and the buying power of the dollar is less every day. With the financial “RIGHT NOW” in so much upheaval, it’s little wonder that most people cannot begin to contemplate the future.
However, the future will come, whether we prepare for it or not. If you want to be in a better financial position, you must consider ways to create multiple income streams both now and when you retire.
A sucker punch to your wealth
Most people are not told the whole story about money and how to make every dollar work harder for them. The financial media has drilled it into their heads that they have no other choice but to subject their cash to risk, even when they are retired.
Many Americans are conditioned to believe that the only way to finance large purchases, such as real estate, automobiles or business equipment, is to crawl to a bank or finance company and beg for a loan. They’ve been encouraged to take on more debt. Nearly half of all retirees are still paying mortgages and credit card debt long after leaving their jobs.
It’s evident the old rules about how best to save for retirement no longer make sense and that losing even $1 in retirement is not acceptable. It’s more critical than ever before to rebalance one’s portfolio. Depending on your age, risk tolerance and current situation, you may want to move more of your wealth into “safe money” products such as life insurance and annuities.
You do have choices. If you are serious about not running out of money in retirement or downgrading your lifestyle, you must actively engage with your money.
You must take action:
1. Find a trustworthy, honest financial guide experienced in the “distribution” phase of finances.
2. Partner with your advisor to review and rebalance your portfolio as needed.
3. Research safe money products, especially annuities, which provide contractually guaranteed safety of principle, have tax advantages and allow for steady growth.
4. Plan for health and long-term care needs.
5. Create a retirement and income blueprint and follow it.
A realistic approach to money and retirement, along with specific products, will help you make the most of the time when you no longer want, or are unable, to work.
Armed with relevant, actionable strategies and information, you can make the kinds of radical shifts that will enable you to retire with more wealth and less stress. If you don’t, you will continue to pay more in taxes and fees than necessary, be exposed to market volatility and wind up with less than you should have in retirement.
Lyle Boss, a native Utahn, is a member of Syndicated Columnists, a national organization committed to a fully transparent approach to money management. Boss Financial 955 Chambers St., Suite 250, Ogden, UT 84403.