New research from Northwestern Mutual shows just how incredibly underprepared the vast majority of Americans — including one in three baby boomers — are for retirement.
According the study, about 78 percent of Americans — nearly 8 out of every 10 — are “extremely” or at least “somewhat” concerned about their ability to afford a comfortable retirement.
On top of that, about two-thirds of Americans fear they will outlive their retirement savings.
The study also notes a staggering number of people have savings shortfalls and more and more people are losing confidence in social safety nets like Social Security and Medicare.
According to the study:
• One in five Americans (21 percent) have NO retirement savings at all
• One in three Baby Boomers (33 percent), the generation closest to retirement age, only have between $0-$25,000 in retirement savings
• Three quarters of Americans believe it is “not at all likely” (24 percent) or only “somewhat likely” (51 percent) that Social Security will be available when they retire
• Nearly half (46 percent) of adults have taken no steps to prepare for the likelihood that they could outlive their savings
“As financial implications of retirement become increasingly complex, inertia just isn’t an option,” said Rebekah Barsch, vice president of planning for Northwestern Mutual. “The good news is that it’s rarely too late to start. In fact, we often compare financial and physical fitness because the hardest part is taking the first step. However, once people commit to a strategy and start seeing positive results, they’re motivated to meet and even exceed their goals.”
These are the initial findings from the 2018 Planning & Progress Study, which is done every year and “commissioned by Northwestern Mutual to explore Americans’ attitudes and behaviors toward money, financial decision making and the broader landscape issues impacting long-term financial security.”
The study also notes how people are living longer, which means they generally have to work longer to provide for a life after retirement.
In fact, more working Americans anticipate retiring at 70 years or older (38 percent) than in the more traditional 65-69 age range (33 percent).
Among the more than half (55 percent) of Americans who believe they will have to work past age 65 from necessity, 73 percent cited “not enough money to retire comfortably” as the dominant driver.
Other reasons mentioned include:
• Social Security not being sufficient to take care of their needs (61 percent)
• Concerns over rising costs like healthcare (52 percent)
For people who plan to work past 65 by choice, disposable income and professional satisfaction were the biggest motivators at 55 and 54 percent, respectively.
The same study done in 2015 showed the leading motivating factors were career enjoyment (66 percent) and additional income (60 percent).
“Continuing to work later in life should be a personal choice not a mandatory requirement for survival,” continued Barsch. “Proactive financial planning can be the difference between a desired and a default retirement lifestyle.”
What are your biggest worries about retirement? Do you feel you’re adequately prepared? Leave your thoughts and comments below.