Millennials have no idea what lies ahead. For that matter, neither do many baby boomers.
We’re talking about retirement, of course. Consider this: a third of Americans have nothing at all saved for retirement, according to a GoBankingRates.com survey, yet many still seem to expect that they’ll muddle through somehow.
Not exactly a realistic attitude, but all too common.
Still, what else might one expect when faced with the inevitable?
Related: 18 scary retirement statistics
You grow older, you leave work (voluntarily or otherwise — from job loss, health concerns or the need to care for a family member) and you do what you have to do.
After all, what else can a person do when necessity intervenes?
But here are 10 things you might not realize about this coming change in circumstances: 10 realities about the years you’ll spend in retirement that you might want to consider while you can still make some changes.
And if you can't, well, forewarned is better than being taken by surprise, isn't it?
10. You should have asked for raises a long time ago, and much more often.
Especially if you’re a woman, with pay that runs behind that of a man, you should have hit up your boss for a raise — and then kept doing so.
A Payscale study from 2015 revealed that 75 percent of people who asked the boss for more money got a raise, so the odds are in your favor.
Besides, women will need that extra money — not just from raises, but for retirement savings — because they are likely to live longer and need more money to see them through retirement.
And they’re 27 percent more likely than men to have saved zero dollars toward retirement — a truly frightening prospect.
9. Get used to doing more of your own cooking and cleaning.
Consider the cost of everything these days: HomeAdvisor puts the average cost of hiring someone to clean your house at $158, while Zagat put the cost of dining out at more than $36 per person (not counting tipping your server!).
And while Statista.com said that in 2015 the average cost for a bottle of cabernet sauvignon ran $8.28, France reported that the 2016 wine and champagne crop was hit by hail, frost and rot, and output has fallen substantially — in some regions, by as much as 40 percent.
As a result, when you're a retiree, you could find yourself prowling the aisles at the wine shop and supermarket for bargains to get you by on your fixed income. Not that it will feel fixed — probably more like broken.
8. Taxes will change — and not for the better.
You probably thought you’d be paying lower taxes in retirement, since your income will be lower than during your working years. And while the latter statement is almost certainly right, the former may not be.
A change in administration could bring higher taxes to some while others will likely get a break, perhaps a substantial one.
But if your overall retirement income is high enough, you’ll end up paying taxes on your Social Security benefits — which will cut down on the funds you’ll have available to live on.
And that’s even more likely if you go back to work before your full retirement age, since if your earnings are too high, you’ll not only be taxed on Social Security benefits but they’ll be cut — the amount depending on how much you earn.
7. Insurance will change — and maybe not for the better, either.
If you thought it was tough finding and/or paying for medical coverage while working — whether your employer offered a plan or you purchased insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchanges — prepare for a more bumpy ride as you enter retirement.
Not only will you have to negotiate the insurance ins and outs of Medicare (don’t forget to sign up promptly, lest you pay more for it forever after — those who delay pay a penalty for doing so), but you may be looking harder for coverage in the interim.
The new president-elect has promised to repeal the ACA and replace it — although at present there’s no data available on what the replacement might look like. And in the meantime, millions could be left without coverage.
6. You might be paying more for housing.
Whether you downsize, decide to splurge on your “dream home” or stay where you are to “age in place,” you’re liable to find yourself paying more for your home, wherever or whatever it is.
Not only must you consider the costs of maintenance, upkeep and property taxes, you may find yourself paying for modifications to allow you to get around and stay independent.
Such accommodations as wider doorways, a wheelchair ramp or a stair elevator don’t come cheap, so women in particular should bear that in mind when considering how much they’ll be spending on home sweet home in years to come. Women are more likely to spend more time disabled as they age.
5. You won’t have saved enough.
No matter your age group, no matter how long it is till you plan to retire, you probably won’t have enough money put by.
Boomers tend to be way too optimistic about how much money they’ll actually need — that’s boomers who actually try to figure out how much retirement will cost — and 60 percent think they’ll need less than $1 million to get through what could possibly be a 30-year retirement.
The scary thing is that health care costs alone could run the average retiree $250,000.
And when it comes to millennials, NerdWallet said they’ll probably need to save nearly a quarter of their incomes to see them through retirement. That’s tough, particularly since millennials are already struggling with lower-paying jobs.
4. Social Security might not help much.
Oh, and don’t count too much on Social Security.
After two years with no cost-of-living increase, the Social Security COLA for 2017 only amounts to a measly $4 for the average retiree.
That’s not even enough for a Starbucks run once a month for a single venti mocha frappucino, at $4.95.
And under a new Republican president and administration, any adjustments will likely come in the form of cuts, rather than an expansion of benefits.
3. You’ll probably have to lower your standard of living.
U.S. Department of Agriculture figures put the cost of raising a child born in 2013 at a projected inflation-adjusted $304,480 (including food, child care, housing and education — but not college tuition). And that’s just till age 18.
Add in the escalating costs of health care, with or without insurance, and you’ll see that you’re going to have a tough time of it meeting any retirement savings goals while raising kids.
Then there are other little expenses that crop up, such as having a car (AAA puts the cost to own an average sedan at $8,698, based on driving 15,000 miles annually). And then there are gifts: in 2015, a Gallup poll found that in 2015 people planned to spend an average of $830 on holiday gifts.
As a result, when you do hit retirement, you’re probably going to have to cut way back on what you thought you’d be able to afford. (See 10, 9 and 6 above for hints.)
2. You may end up supporting parents or kids.
Both problems are common, particularly since few families have any discussion about whether and how to pay for long-term care, and few parents are willing to turn away children who can’t find a job or afford to pay for their own home or apartment.
And if you end up paying their bills, who’s going to pay yours?
1. Any job you find in retirement might not pay much.
People who plan to work through retirement — or who find, after retiring, that they just can’t get by on what they’ve saved — could be in for a rude awakening if they hit the job market again.
Not only are jobs for older people tougher to come by, they don’t necessarily pay much.
You might be able to blame Hollywood for some of that, since depictions of seniors in movies — when they’re depicted at all — are usually treated in ageist or demeaning ways. That predisposes bosses not to want seniors on the job, particularly if they think they’re senile, difficult to work with or incapable of doing good work.