Retirement savings

The COVID-19 virus will bring about sweeping changes in how Americans will face retirement and old age in the years to come, according to a new Wall Street Journal analysis. Some transformations will be stressful, whereas others will be more welcome, experts say. Almost all, however, are “accelerating developments already under way,” physician and entrepreneur Bill Thomas, M.D., told the media outlet.

For one, more Americans will age in place at home — and a variety of innovations will help make that happen. Further, COVID-19 has given many individuals a reason to reflect more deeply on mortality and make more deliberate plans about how they want to live and die. For example, traffic and downloads of end-of-life planning material have surged this year, according to Kate DeBartolo, director of end-of-life care initiative Conversation Project. Taking the time to plan for this not only can improve how we live our last days but how our loved ones deal with our deaths, DeBartolo noted.

One trend that may not be so welcome for senior living, however, is that rising government deficits and falling bond yields are creating much greater uncertainty about financing retirement.

“It’s going to make people rethink retirement altogether,” Laura Carstensen, director of Stanford University’s Center on Longevity, told the WSJ.

This reality has led David Blanchett, Morningstar’s head of retirement research, to now recommend a safe-spending withdrawal rate between 3% and 3.5% as opposed to the frequently used rule of thumb for retirement spending known as the 4% rule. It also means that someone who wants to safely withdraw $40,000 in the first year of retirement needs to save closer to $1.2 million than $1 million, he noted.