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Boomers feel unprepared to retire

A survey shows that individuals aged 50 to 66 expect to work longer and to have less financial security in their retirement.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 4, 2012 1:52PM

This post comes from Anne Tergesen at partner siteSmartMoney.


How prepared are the baby boomers for retirement? The results of a new survey, released this week by the Insured Retirement Institute, a nonprofit that represents insurers, broker-dealers and asset managers, are not too encouraging.


Image: Couple with accountant (© Ryan McVay/Photodisc Red/Getty Images)The survey of 803 individuals aged 50 to 66, contains a glimmer of good news: 74% of this group expect their financial situation to improve or stay the same over the next five years.


But the report indicates that most do not expect to amass enough to cover their expenses in retirement. For example:

  • Only 40% are extremely or very confident of having enough money to cover basic needs in retirement.
  • Nearly two-thirds are not confident about covering medical expenses.
  • Three-quarters do not feel prepared for future long-term care costs.
  • 60% believe their financial security in retirement will be about the same or worse than that of their parents.

Boomers expect to rely more on income from 401k accounts than defined benefit pension plans:

  • 42% expect 401k and other defined-contribution plans to provide a major source of retirement income, up from 36% last year.
  • Only 37% expect to rely significantly on traditional pension plans, unchanged from last year's survey. (Post continues below)

Not surprisingly, a growing number expect to postpone retirement.

  • 35% expect to retire after age 66, including 23% who expect to work into their 70s. (The numbers from last year's survey were 28% and 17%, respectively.)

And more expect to work in retirement to supplement their income.

  • 64% expect wages to be a source of retirement income, up from 57% last year.

Particularly at risk are single people and middle-income boomers, with annual earnings of between $30,000 and $75,000. "While most boomers report a higher level of confidence than they did last year, these two cohorts are the exceptions," the report says.

  • 72% of single boomers are not confident they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years, compared with 60% of married boomers.
  • 38% of unmarried boomers expect their financial security in retirement to be worse than that of their parents, compared with 26% of married boomers.
  • 21% of unmarried boomers had to prematurely withdraw funds from their 401k, IRA, or other retirement investments, compared with 14% of married boomers.
  • 70% of middle-income boomers are not very confident about having enough money to live comfortably in retirement.
  • 40% of middle-income households stopped putting money into a 401k, IRA or other retirement account (compared with 37% last year).

More on SmartMoney and MSN Money:


Apr 11, 2012 6:43PM
Well, I'm 66, very blue collar, retired and doing fine.  I saved, lived conservatively and never considered the house I live in to be a commodity.  It is a home and not for sale.  It also isn't the biggest, most expensive or most remodeled around.  But it's mine.  It's market value has dropped $80,000 from its peak but I don't care.  I'm here to stay.  
Boomers are guilty of poor or no planning, poor decision making and rampant consumerism.  Many, but not all.  I am the leading edge of boomers.  You laughed at me and called me a loser because I wouldn't spend like a drunken sailor as you did.  Who's laughing now?  

Republicans are not the enemy.
Democrats are not the enemy.
Politicians are the enemy.  All of them.

Apr 11, 2012 7:47PM
I guess some people have forgotten what us Baby Boomers have went thru. Anyone remember the 60's and 70's? I do. I've retired at 63 on $1,800.00 per month and my wife and I will do just fine. We lost investments with Putnam; Been thru 3 recessions, with each one bigger then the one before; Help put our 2 kids through college-One has a Masters and the other a BA.  We experience double digit interest rates; Watch for ten years as the Savings and Loans go wild; taxes on everyting increase; Lies coming out of Washington every year; Everything we need to live on be made in China and other countrys, etc, etc. Plus we have witness the decline in people voting. We have had to move many times and work many jobs to keep a roof over our head and food on the table, but we did it. Maybe not much money at the end but we are happy and will survive until the Good Lord decides to take us home
Apr 11, 2012 8:34PM
I'm a boomer; just about every one I know is too.  The idea that we were not prepared is total B.S.  One has to consider the things that were out of our control that caused this mess.  I don't know a single person that didn't do most of the right things.  We paid off our homes; saved for retirement; did not over-extend ourselves with luxuries.  Not to mention try and find a way to get the kids (those that had them) through college or encourage them to get a job.  What was out of our control:  Massive shifts of good jobs overseas; the rich and the government practicing policies that sent the economy into the abyss;  real wages that haven't risen since the 70's.  Don't give me this B.S. that we weren't ready.  If we failed, it was to allow the same politicians to be re-elected over and over again that could care less about th middle and working class.  Looking back, that's were our troubles began.
Apr 5, 2012 1:32PM
My retirement plan: work until I drop dead at work, spend my retirement sleeping underground
Apr 11, 2012 5:40PM

I'm not surprised by this. Boomers have the highest rate of divorce (higher than our parents generation) which causes retirements to be split; lack of job security; lack of defined pension plans; not living within our means; the "great depression" of 2008-2010 wiped out retirement values; the housing crisis; global crisis.


Retirement for all generations is the elephant in the room. The problem with 401K's  is the high fees associated with those (most 401K's are mutual funds), thereby that is less money for one's retirement. Also the lack of "security" in these 401K's. Too often, CEO's have dipped into the pension plans and 401K's. Retirement and health care in America, as well as the tax code needs a serious overhaul!

Apr 11, 2012 4:47PM

i'm 66 and still working. I don't really mind it at all. Lots of people around of all ages and backgrounds. I sell machinery so I still talk to people on the phone. I suppose I'll go to 70 no problem.  I do trade shows around the country, still rake my own leaves and shovel my own snow.  I love being alive and living it like I mean it.  Scotch in the evening is my favorite "pick me up"!

My husband and I both anticipate snorkling in the islands at 70+!!  

Apr 11, 2012 7:10PM

I retired last year at age 59, planned for 55 but lost $ in 9-11, regrouped, planned and did it, i love it! is goooood. For you youngsters plan, plan, and plan  some more, i recommend you buy yourselve a low price fixer upper house and fix it yourself. pay extra on you mortage and pay it off asap, buy another one the same it out. get into a 401k and stay away from high risk planning. yea look out for yourself and dont depend on corporate america  or the government for your future. LOOK OUT FOR YOURSELVES!

Apr 11, 2012 6:55PM

Started saving through 401k's at 25....still now at 50 I worry if I'll have I keep saving, even in the tough times when I'd much rather see that money in my paycheck....Words of wisdom.  Save what you can, don't spend beyond your means, pay down debt before considering any new purchases...and smile and appreciate the things you do have.Smile

Apr 11, 2012 4:27PM
This is a huge ticking time bomb...
Apr 11, 2012 8:26PM
I don't know why all these Boomer Retirement Articles aren't addressing the problems brought on by the 2008 crash.  We were doing just fine, all plans in place, etc.  Then overnight, almost half of our assets vanished, losses in the housing market cracked nest eggs and pension plans disappeared or went belly up.  We didn't do this to ourselves.  Wall Street did it to us.  We are working our rears off trying to float a swamped boat.  First quarter statements have started arriving and things are starting to look better.  We won't be able to live the dream retirement we had planned, but we will survive. 
Apr 11, 2012 8:12PM
liens on Congressional pensions is the answer
Apr 11, 2012 4:34PM

I'm 63.  I hate my job and my health isn't great.  I would love to retire, but can't afford to.  Having to work until I drop over dead is a fate worse than death to me. 

Apr 11, 2012 6:12PM
Hey, I'm a boomer and guess what -- we're all not brain dead greedy users.  I'll leave that for the instant gratification generation that's coming up.  Some of us saved, have 401k's, and worked for a company that has a retirement plan.  You can't jump from job to job and expect to inherit.  I'm bailing at age 60 in a few months with a lovely retirement and a large chunk o' cash from 401k that will keep me for at least 30 years.  Advice?  Think ahead and start planning as early as possible.
Apr 11, 2012 9:46PM

I am retired and near the age of  '69. In fact, with recent trends in the US over in the last 10 years, I am afraid of the future.  I wish I had been born in '33 rather than '43 as I would have had 10 more years when things were good  and stable here. The future for current retirees will be bleak and bleaker in my opinion. This article is good  in that you can see the deteriorating financial trends of retirees and those still working but near retirement.  Basically if you are upper income and /or rich, there are things you can do, if you are middle class or working class, is little you can do. about it.


As a retiree, and if you are still working at a good day job-- even if you don't like it,  hang on to that job as long as you can possibly, possibly can; that is your best near term retirement security, particularly if you make  $100K or better.  I wished I had worked 3 to 4 more years with the federal government myself - alas we don't have a 'tv' view of the future years so we decide on faith that things will work out well. Today that is a naive faith indeed.  Also don't believe these messages from Fidelity, Vanguard, or your financial advisor, or MSNBC money about when you should  take social security as they all say or imply that you should delay retirement until age 70.  My advice on that, is if you need the money now, take it now if you are over 62.  These soothing articles on SSA are false, because they assume the current SSA rules will apply.  As someone who is retired I try to follow what is happening to current retirees here and in Europe.  I believe that in 2 years, current SSA rules, Medicare benefits, Medicaid benefits are going to be turned upside down and current benefits will be reduced/curtailed in the U.S. (including myself and millions of current beneficiaries) I say this, because the European Union has decreed severe retirement/health benefits cuts to the current retiree populations in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and soon to be spain and Portugal. They are seeing cuts as large as 20% to 30%. A movie that will happen right here in two years or less or no later than 2016. (and I am not Nostradamus) 


On a personal note, retirement is difficult in other ways. To make your retirement money last, you have to know certain thins to optimize the process, or so the retirement 'experts' say. However after 10 years in retirement I am still ignorant of these facts.  How long will I live?

When is the year I get really sick and need long term care?  What future rate of return can I safely rely on when withdrawing my IRA amounts ( they have declined over the last 3 years)

How much more money is the federal reserve going to print, thereby driving inflation and the price of gas and food? Will the US cap the 16 trillion deficit or will they continue to add to it, thereby devaluing the dollar even more?  When will we have the next big war, which seems to be on the horizon, but retirees here will take a big financial hit?  I still don't know the answers to these questions for myself and it has been 10 years.


Again, If you are lucky to have a good full time job that is secure, for God's sake stay with it--this is you best bet in this unstable period in the US, which by the way, is the most unstable that I have seen in my lifetime.  Well, take care, and God bless you and all of us. 

Apr 11, 2012 8:53PM
I'm 62 & have been retired for 5 yrs. I took the old advice & paid myself 1st when the paycheck arrived. We saved & paid our home off many years ago. And yes we also raised 3 children to be responsible adults. While I understand some people's problem with savings the majority of people just simply failed to be responsibly & save for their future. Why would you blame the gov't or the 1%(as many call them). Its no ones fail but your own.
Apr 11, 2012 5:01PM
What generation looked out for the boomers?  Who allowed wallstreet to have fun with retirement plans?  Who exhausted social security and medicare?  Who shifted the tax burden to middleclass while shipping jobs out and giving those corporations tax welfare?  Granted America was sleeping, working hard and we did not have the information hwy or freedom of information.  The republicans are ranting and raving now about everything but they are the ones with blueberry pie all over their face.  They ate the pie.  I say we first stop all wars, level taxation, cut off all retirement plans and healthcare for senate and house, and hold a fire under all elected.
Apr 11, 2012 6:44PM
I am 67 years old and retired at 53.. I worked for a large company for well over 30 years in a job that paid well but one I didn't enjoy at all. For many years of it I lived well BELOW my means. This afforded me the opportunity to wait for the right opportunity to bail out when a good package came along and it did. Now I tinker in a small business of my own that I really enjoy. And I live comfortably  as I have while working for a big conglomerate.
Apr 11, 2012 4:44PM
Hey, STANDUPAMERICANS...I'm not going to do a bloody damned thing. I'll be dead before this country finishes its downhill slide into Hell. Good riddance to those who deserve it.
Apr 11, 2012 6:46PM
I'm a boomer and retired at 55 so some of us were listening 30 years ago.
Apr 11, 2012 5:04PM
I just retired in 2010, at 65 because I had to,,The economy down-turn,,Released from my job in(2005),,Living in expensive SF bay area,,Sucked-up my savings..Doing handyman maintenance and sometime security work,,ill be doing things until I drop dead,,Thank-goodness​ for my fairly good health!!!
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