Many Americans Fear Going Broke in Retirement
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Many Americans Fear Going Broke in Retirement

May 27, 2014

Source: USA Today

But some aren’t willing to cut back on their current lifestyle to save for the future.


Many Americans with significant savings fear going broke in retirement, but they aren’t willing to cut back on their current lifestyle to save more for the future, a new survey shows.


About 55% of respondents say they fear not having enough money in retirement, more than they fear other stressors such as losing their job (37%) or gaining weight (25%), according to Bank of America’s Merrill Edge report, which is released twice a year.


The latest findings are based on a national survey of 1,000 people defined as emerging affluent because they have $50,000 to $250,000 in total household investments, including cash, savings, mutual funds, IRAs, stocks, bonds and other investments, but excluding their homes and real estate investments. About 90% of respondents have retirement savings, and they began saving at an average age of 33.


Despite their fear of going broke, many don’t want to cut back on discretionary expenses to save for the future: 33% aren’t willing to cut back on entertainment to save more, 30% won’t reduce eating out and 28% aren’t willing to forego vacations, the survey found.


More respondents (63%) say having money to live “in the here and now” is a priority than those who said saving for the future (48%) is a priority. (Respondents could select more than one category as priorities.)


Some common reasons people give for not saving regularly for retirement are unexpected expenses, paying off debts and paying for a child’s college education.


“People are challenged by competing priorities — they need to save for retirement, but they have other pressing expenses such as paying off large debt and taking care of their family members,” says Aron Levine, head of Preferred Banking and Investments at Bank of America.


Everyone needs to create a good financial plan that allows them to understand their entire financial picture including their goals for the short-term and long-term, Levine says. The sooner you start a plan, the better, he says. Levine advises getting a financial education and reaching out for help from a financial professional or by using tools on websites.


Other findings:


• Even if they won a million bucks, only 19% of respondents would use it for their retirement while 34% would pay off large debt, such as their mortgage or school loan; 32%, would first save it or invest it; 7%, would give to loved ones; 4%, would spend on something extravagant; 2%, give to charity; 2%, don’t know.


• More women (59%) than men (51%) are worried about not having enough money in the golden years. That said, more women are reluctant than men to cut back on dining out, clothing and even technology, the survey showed.


• 89% have a household budget, but 66% say they are consistently unable to live within that budget.


• 68% of divorced survey participants say they are worried about not having enough money in retirement vs 53% of folks who are single, married or widowed.


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