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Anxiety over retirement grows

Even people who have done a better job of saving are worried.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 19, 2011 11:17AM

This post comes from Anne Tergesen at partner site SmartMoney.


SmartMoney on MSN MoneyWe all know that Americans are feeling insecure about retirement these days. A new poll illustrates how pervasive these feelings have become.


According to a recently released survey of 800 voters nationwide, 50% of respondents with $100,000 or less in savings are feeling less confident about their retirement prospects today than they were a year ago. The surprise? Among those with more than $100,000 in savings, the same percentage -- 49%, to be precise -- are feeling just as insecure.


"That is a stunner," says Bill McInturff, a partner at Public Opinion Strategies LLC, which conducted the poll for Americans for Secure Retirement. The group is a coalition of more than 70 organizations -- ranging from the Hispanic Business Roundtable to the American Council of Life Insurers -- that is dedicated to raising awareness about "the importance of guaranteed lifetime income, whether through annuities" or similar options within 401k plans, says Lindsay Gilbride, a spokeswoman for the organization. Its website says it is particularly concerned about "Americans with little or no access to employer-sponsored plans."


Normally, McInturff says, "people with higher savings have a lot less anxiety than those with lower savings." But clearly, he adds, the impact of simultaneous declines in the housing, stock, and labor markets has taken a toll on the outlook of even the wealthiest Americans. Post continues after video from earlier this year.

"Those changes are not just affecting middle-income people. They are also having a powerful affect on the affluent." (Are you saving enough for retirement? Try MSN Money's calculator.)


Among the survey's other findings:

  • One out of every two Americans say they are less confident today about their retirement outlook than they were a year ago.
  • Those closest to retirement have experienced the greatest loss in confidence, with 62% of those ages 45 to 54 and 60% of those ages 55 to 64 reporting a loss of confidence compared with a year ago. (In contrast, only 40% of those ages 60 and over -- a population with less at stake in the stock market -- say they are less confident than they were last year at this time.)
  • 50% of respondents believe Social Security and Medicare should be off-limits to budget cutters.
  • 88% of respondents say they are concerned about being able to maintain a comfortable standard of living throughout retirement -- up from 73% last September.

That last statistic -- which shows an erosion from an already high level of retirement insecurity -- is cause for alarm, says McInturff. "If you had asked me a year ago whether retirement confidence would further erode from 73% to 88%, I would have said no. That's a big concern."


More on SmartMoney and MSN Money:

Oct 19, 2011 1:56PM

I'm 61 and planning on retiring at 62.  Thankfully I've been a saver all my working life so I have more than $100K saved.  However, don't think I'm not shaky about retiring....because I definitely am.  The reason why I'm retiring - 1. I'm tired of working.  Over 44 yrs. now.  I want to go and play.  2. I need to spend time with my aging family.  We don't get out of this life alive.  3. I want to relocate and get more land and have my idea of a perfect house built.  I'm tired of the rat race.  4. I want to take up crafts that I have always wanted to do and maybe even go back to golfing where I was a 4 handicap.  5. I want to take some classes - art, painting, history, opera, etc. 

There are more things in life than just working.  I need to move on and become me again.

Oct 19, 2011 1:42PM

My 2020 retirement plan.

Turn 65, rob a bank.  Go to prison.

Room, 3 squares/day, and health care.

Problem solved.

Oct 19, 2011 12:54PM

Retirement?  Whats that?  In my mid 40s, that word no longer exists for me.


Oct 19, 2011 2:40PM
The main thing that concerns me about retirement is inflation.  We owe bazillions of bucks to everyone, just how do you think we're going to deal with that?  By inflating our currency into worthlessness.  THAT'S what worries me.
Oct 19, 2011 1:24PM
They should be worried. Most 401ks are gone in the first two years. Older and not as healthy then get hit with he over priced medical system charges. Very easy to wind up in poverty and very smart to hang in there a little longer than anticipated.
Oct 19, 2011 1:20PM
George Bush, Christopher Cox, Barney Frank, Christopher Dodd, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Bob Portman, and Barrack Obama through their absolute disregard and sheer incompetence have ensured that I now can never retire.
Oct 19, 2011 1:37PM
The problem with this survey is that $100,000, while a lot to many folks, is still not a high enough bar to give anyone a real sense of security.  I would think you might see a more drastic difference in % perception if the cutoff was say, $500,000.
Oct 19, 2011 3:47PM
Of course we're freaking worried about retirement because we don't have pensions, we have to come up with massive amounts of money for college for our kids, and our 401K's will last about a year on what they're yielding.  It's hard to sell our homes because of the real estate market, and we owe on them into retirement years.  There's no job security.  And we can only hope that our health holds out or we're really screwed.  That's the only thing that allows us to keep working to pay for the American dream.
Oct 19, 2011 2:57PM
I retired eight years ago at age 48.  I did the math, saved well, and my retirement funds were all going well.  Now, with investments tanking or treading water for the last five years, it's looking like I may have made a mistake,  I can't imagine myself being competitive in a job market at 56 years old, so I'm considering taking a risk and starting my own business.

Maybe I should just stop worrying and enjoy life until the money runs out . . .  perhaps spend it before inflation eats it away, or the politicians tax it away. 

Oct 19, 2011 3:47PM
After I retired from one company I went on & worked another 20 years. Than seems nuts looking back. I helped build three big international internet companies from scratch which gave a lot of stock options that turned to be worth next to nothing. The first company had a pension. The over priced medical here in the USA is the killer of all savings. For quality of life pensions need to be brought back. Trying to live on a can of soup every other day or live under the bridge is not good repayment to the old. Starting my eight year & doing really good after open heart surgery. You need reason to live and hope for all Americans to retire with respect.
Oct 19, 2011 2:22PM
I must admit 100k sounds like nothing.  I have 70k now and I am 32yrs old.  Im not sure how one could live with only 100k saved.  Given lifestyle plays a huge role but I am far from a spender. 
Oct 19, 2011 3:58PM

@ cva15:  The real problem is people like YOU.  People who think that there is one specific group of people to blame for this.  You probably spread your diseased propaganda to anyone who will listen and infect countless others.  Why didn't you mention "thank you Bush and Republicans for spending us into bankruptcy with your wars on 'terror"?  Yeah, you are so is all of the left-wing liberals who have no values or moral fiber.  I guess that Mark Foley (had inappropriate relationships with his underage male pages) and Larry Craig (solicited male police officer in airport restroom) were just Republicans by title.  They were secretly Democrats.  You are such a pathetic loser that you can't see that it is BOTH parties that are killing us.  You have no ability to think for yourself.  Someone else told you how to vote a long time ago, and you are just too stupid or lazy to do it any different now.  Closed-minded and ignorant is a dangerous combination.  Wanna know why things never change in this country?  Because people like you who don't think there is anything wrong (at least with the people you vote for).  You deserve to have to work the rest of your life!

Oct 19, 2011 5:06PM


And they should be anxious.

Firstly, there is no real money in the Social Security fund;  this pay as you go has just IOU's in the form of bonds, locked up in a cabinet in Virginia.  The bonds are a promise to the American Public that the Gov will deliver-however, money has to be borrowed.  Remember what president Obama stated during the budget negotiations-that SS checks would not be mailed if the budget was not passed.  Which means that money had to be borrowed to make payments.

401Ks/stock options-if someone had 300K and took out 4% per year that's 12000 dollars a year or 1000 dollars a month.  Adequate?  Not, if SS vanishes and pensions are cut.  Most people don't have 300K;  fewer have 500K, very very few a million.  With the stock market doing its downward spiral-not much hope there.

Then there is the book Aftershock that everyone should read.  many love it some hate it.  This could happen soon.  Then retirement will be impossible.

Note on the Social Security IOUs:  the year 2037 is fictitious.  If payments cannot be made SS and Medicare stops.  This could happen with the inability of the Gov to borrow more money or economic failure.  Plus, less people are putting into the system now than before-the system is in deep trouble.

Oct 21, 2011 8:13PM
If you weight till you have all the money in the world before you retire you'll never get there. Go ahead and enjoy your last years . Learn to live on less.  I retired on 30,000 in the bank and am glade I did. Had a heart attack after I retired. But I did not die in that sweat box where I worked. Let the younger people bust there buts for the low paying jobs. I 'am out of there.!!!!.
Oct 19, 2011 7:05PM

cva15:  "Hrumpf!  Hey you kids, get off my yard.  Damned kids today and their hip hop music and their dungarees!  Why, when I was a kid the streets were paved with gold and it rained diamonds!  People today are ruining this once great country!  I'll ignore the fact that the democrats controlled both houses from 1955 - 1980, and then again from '87-'95. "


I was at the gym the other day and a peer was complaining about the president.  I asked him, "What can the president do differently that will make a difference?"  He had absolutely no answer.  It cracks me up when folks who don't even know who writes and pass the laws (Congress), complain about the President, yet have absolutely NO suggestions on how he/they can do a better job.


If you don't have any answers, then you're unqualified to complain about the job someone else is doing.  If you can't point out what they're doing wrong, how can you say they're doing anything wrong?

Oct 19, 2011 3:37PM
Not only did our retirement funds tank, we just received a letter from Conseco Life insurance that our universal life policy premiums are going to quadruple because of the mortality rate in the state where we live. My wife and I bought these policies with the intent that if something happened to either one of us there would be additional monies to live on after retirement. We were told by the agent that the premiums would never increase, only the face amount could decrease if we took any policy loans. Any help out there???
Oct 19, 2011 6:12PM
Disappointed It began when we started working on our first job young insecure full of energy and got paid $2.20 an hour and suddenly you begin wondering when it ends and will it ever ends. The trauma is so ingrained deeply into your system and you have the habit of getting worried and apprehensive about everything and it stays with you till the end. They call that discipline but I call end traumatic experience. And then we wait for our skimpy living allowance and get left behind by many a mile  by unions and the super stars.Disappointed
Oct 19, 2011 6:34PM
Where the heck is it written that we HAVE to retire?  I have absolutely no intention of retiring. I am drawing social security and working enough to supplement it. My wife is working as well and we have a small savings account.  We do not own a house(wouldn't want to either). We live a simple life, but it is what we want. If we can retire the current occupant of the White House in 2012, things will likely get better.
Oct 19, 2011 3:33PM
Confused  I am 59. I will probably work the rest of my life because of the economy.  It seems like everything we patriots worked for all of our lives is going to heck.  This Nation is not what it was.  The left-wing liberals have destroyed any sense of values and moral fiber we had.   Our very culture....the American Culture.... is becoming non-existent.  The Founding Fathers are probably rolling over in their graves in agony.  Thank you Obama and Pelosi and all you liberal cronies out there for ruining this once great country. 
Oct 19, 2011 7:08PM

By inflating our currency into worthlessness.  THAT'S what worries me.


This is why you need to be in stocks for the long haul.  Stocks build inflation into their prices.  As stocks are valued based on corporate earnings, and corporations price their goods based on the value of a currency, earnings raise along with inflation.

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