- Retirement can be a scary word for those not prepared, but the
good news is that in general, Waukesha County residents have a
strong footing for those later years in life, according to area
financial planners and a recent study.
A report released this week by SmartAsset, an online publication
that analyzes data, revealed that Waukesha County residents were
outperforming other state residents in their efforts to prepare
“The results show that residents of Waukesha County are doing
their best to prepare themselves financially for retirement — as
they not only finished first in Wisconsin for this study, but
ranked number 107 in the U.S. out of 3,067 counties,” Managing
Editor AJ Smith said.
Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community
Survey, MIT Living Wage Calculator and other sources, SmartAsset
researchers learned that the median household wealth in Waukesha
County is $75,038 and cost of living is $19,983. Social security
income for county residents is generally around $20,004. The
income tax as percentage of gross income is 3.22 percent. All of
these numbers give Waukesha County a 57.54 on the retirement
Statewide, the median household income is $30,552, cost
of living is $17,555 and Social Security income is $17,542.
Smith said SmartAsset added each location’s wealth-to-expenses
and tax indices to yield a final number. The final number was
indexed so higher values reflect counties in which residents are
the most ready for retirement, with the top-ranked county (in this
case, Sumter County, Fla.), getting a score of 100. The highest
scoring county received a 100 and subsequent rankings were
benchmarked against it.
Bill Schweitzer of WJS Wealth Management in Brookfield said most
Waukesha County residents are planning and prepared for
retirement, but it’s often the unexpected that can hurt their
“A lot of them don’t understand the land mines that are out
there,” he said, giving unexpected long-term illness, chronic
nursing home expenses and dementia as examples.
Some insurance agencies now offer products to help protect
individuals and their nest eggs. Some products will allow a person
to collect money from their life insurance policy prior to death
when needing to deal with a long-term chronic illness.
“People are living longer and studies have shown that when you
have a husband and a wife aged 65 and both have not had any heart
disease, cancer or diabetes, there’s
a 40 percent chance that one of those husbands and wives will
reach 92 and still need an income,” Schweitzer said. “Now we
are talking a 27-plus year retirement where our parents did not
have as long of a retirement timeframe.”
Julie Ellenbecker-Lipsky of Ellenbecker Investment Group in the
City of Pewaukee recommends that five years before retirement,
people attempt to live off their retirement budget to see if it
needs any adjusting. At that point, there is still time to do
adjusting to the plan.
“I do believe that Waukesha County has a pretty strong presence
of people who think longer term for retirement,” she said.
People do need to be aware of items that will affect retirement,
such as taxes and inflation, risk-adjusted return and health care.
At Ellenbecker, advisors work with clients to identify their
personal risks for now and in the future with the intent to
mitigate those risks now.
Ellenbecker-Lipsky said it’s never too late nor too early to
begin thinking about retirement. Financial awareness should begin
in earnest during teenage years and 20s and retirement planning is
a component of that.
“I think people are starting to take more ownership of
retirement,” she said.