3/19/2013 5:03 PM ET|
Retirement crisis ahead for boomers and Gen Xers
With most workers having less than $25,000 in total savings, Americans are headed for a dismal old age. And many 'have their heads in the sand.'
Americans aren't saving enough to retire, with 57% of U.S. workers reporting less than $25,000 in total household savings and investments, excluding their homes, according to a new report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
Even worse, the study found fewer workers are actually putting money aside for retirement, with only 57% saying they're currently saving, down from 65% in 2009, the study found.
It's not something that workers are unconcerned about, however, as 28% said they have no confidence they'll be able to retire comfortably, up from 23% just last year.
"With baby boomers and Gen Xers, 44% of them will run short of money in retirement," Jack VanDerhei, the research director at EBRI, told MSN Money. "Forty-one percent of people in the lowest income quartile will run short of money within the first decade of retirement."
Workers between 25 and 34 years old are actually saving the least, with only 56% of them saying they have set aside money. As my colleague Kim Peterson wrote on Monday, younger people are also struggling to save money to buy houses or make other investments.
Those are bleak findings, but VanDerhei said something else in this year's study surprised him even more.
After conducting the survey for 23 years, EBRI this year asked workers whether they know how much they should be setting aside, VanDerhei said, noting that a common assumption is that workers don't know the basics of retirement funding.
He says he was shocked to find that workers actually know they should be putting aside as much as 20% of their income, in some cases. So why aren't Americans stashing more for their old age?
Immediate financial demands are among the reasons -- paying down debt and rising cost-of-living expenses. But some wishful thinking is also going on. "There is still a significant percentage who have their head in the sand and don't want to pay attention because they don't want to be unsettled," VanDerhei noted.
Workers "get the fact they aren't saving as much as they should. That's not translating into increased savings. It's translating into, 'I'll just push back my retirement age,'" VanDerhei added.
That's a dangerous plan, he cautioned, because nearly half of retirees say they stopped working sooner than they had planned, most often due to problems such as poor health or a disability.
"It's a risky proposition to defer the pain until a later date," VanDerhei noted.
What about retiring on Social Security? Sure, if you're looking forward to scrimping and enjoying a low quality of life in your old age. "Based on any type of minimum expenditures needed to keep a decent standard of living," VanDerhei said, "Social Security will not be enough."
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