Anxiety high about retirement savings, investing

By BenefitsPro

By Paula Aven Gladych

Nearly three-quarters of Americans get stressed out or anxious when they think about retirement saving and investing.

According to the 2013 Franklin Templeton Retirement Income Strategies and Expectations survey, stress is on the rise, with 37 percent of respondents saying they were more concerned they would outlive their assets or have to make major sacrifices in their retirement plans than they were a year ago. In response to the stress, 67 percent of pre-retirees indicated they would be willing to make financial sacrifices now to live better in retirement.

The survey found that that three in 10 American adults haven’t even started saving for retirement, and those numbers don’t just include younger workers. Sixty-eight percent of those ages 45 to 54 and half of those ages 55 to 64 have $100,000 or less in retirement savings.

Forty-eight percent of survey respondents said they were concerned about how they would pay for health care in retirement; 24 percent were worried about living expenses and 12 percent were worried about keeping up their current lifestyle.

A full 93 percent of pre-retirees expect their retirement expenses to be similar or less than pre-retirement spending, and only 15 percent of those retired indicated that their actual retirement spending was more than expected.

An examination of retirement income sources revealed that nearly half (47 percent) of respondents do not know with a high degree of confidence how much of their current income will be replaced by Social Security and a comparable number (44 percent) are similarly unsure concerning their employer-sponsored (defined contribution) retirement plan (i.e., 401(k), 403(b)). More than three in five pre-retirees (62 percent) do not know how much they can expect to withdraw from their savings annually during retirement.

Working with an advisor appears to help; 58 percent of those who have worked with an advisor to develop a written retirement income strategy are confident about how much of their income will be replaced by Social Security, and 55 percent are confident about how much of their income will be replaced by their employer-sponsored retirement plan.

The survey revealed two retirement misconceptions that might have serious implications on retirees’ retirement income.

When asked what adjustment they would make if they were unable to retire as planned due to insufficient income, the top two responses were to delay retirement (62 percent) and to increase sources of income (i.e. work part-time) (45 percent). However, one-third of today’s retirees surveyed were forced into retirement due to circumstances beyond their control, such as health issues and company downsizing, indicating that working longer may not be a realistic option for many people.

Secondly, the majority (74 percent) of pre-retirees anticipates taking Social Security benefits at their “full” retirement age (between ages 66 to 67) or later. However, the majority (63 percent) of today’s retirees were forced to tap Social Security benefits early, sacrificing their benefit amount by as much as 25 percent.

“Assuming you can just stay on the job longer could cost you,” said Michael Doshier, vice president of Retirement Marketing for Franklin Templeton Investments. “But taking just a little time to write down a plan, with an advisor, can not only help you understand your true options better, it might also reduce your feelings of stress.”

The 2013 Franklin Templeton Retirement Income Strategies and Expectations survey was conducted online among a sample of 2,002 adults comprising 1,001 men and 1,001 women 18 years of age or older. The survey was administered from January 10 to 22, 2013 by ORC International’s Online CARAVAN.

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