No matter if you're starting your career or approaching its end, you should be thinking about retirement. How am I getting ready? How much should I save? How should I invest? Am I being too aggressive, or too passive?
But perhaps a bigger question is, "Am I thinking about retirement at all?" In an exclusive MoneyTips online survey, 452 Americans were asked about retirement. Some of the respondents had already entered that phase of life, while others were decades away from their golden years.
We asked the subjects yet to retire to select one of four choices to complete this sentence:
Nearly half (49.0%) of the respondents admitted they were a little concerned or stressed when thinking about retirement. Nevertheless, nearly 3 in 10 (29.9%) said it made them happy, while more than 2 in 10 (21.1%) said they never thought about retirement!
When we broke the data down by gender, we saw that a greater percentage of women (34.9%) than men (23.5%) say thinking about retirement makes them happy. On the flip side, more men (54.1%) than women (45.0%) are a little concerned or stressed when thinking about retirement.
Certified Financial Planner and tax attorney Rebecca Walser of Tampa, Florida, reviewed our findings. "The results from this survey, with nearly 30% of respondents saying that thinking about retirement makes them happy and another 21% saying they don't think about retirement at all - totaling over half of all participants that are either not worried about retirement or actually happy about it – are quite shocking! Shocking because America's RSG – Retirement Savings Gap – is estimated to be anywhere from $7 Trillion to $14 Trillion – which means that only an extremely small percentage of Americans will successfully maintain their lifestyle during and through their retirement until death. With such an enormous retirement funding gap, you would expect to see a high percentage of survey participants having thought about and being concerned with retirement, but the study shows that greater than half are either happy or not even pondering it. Results from surveys like this may show us why our retirement gap is so big, because most Americans are not thinking about it, which means they are not taking the steps necessary to plan and prepare for their second phase of life."
Age also appears to play a factor in how we think about retirement.
Young people are more likely not to think about retirement: more than 2 in 5 (40.7%) people 18-29 never think about retirement, along with 1 in 3 (35.2%) people 18-39. More than half (57.8%) of those aged 50+ are a little concerned or stressed when thinking about retirement vs. less than 2 in 5 (41.3%) of those under 50.
Who is happy when thinking about retirement? People with money! More than 2 in 5 (40.3%) people whose families earn more than $100,000 annually are happy when thinking about retirement versus less than 1 in 4 (24.4%) of those whose families make $100,000 or less annually.
Adds Walser, author of Wealth Unbroken - Growing Wealth Uninterrupted by Market Crashes, Taxes, or Even Death, "This study also demonstrates why our retirement savings gap is so large in another way, too – when you look at the responses by age. As you can see, the respondents that are 39 and younger largely do not even think about it and those that are stressed about retirement are age 40 and up. The problem is, starting to plan for retirement at 40 is really too late because 20 to 25 years is not really enough time to build up a nest egg that is meant to replace your income for 30 years or more. It is no wonder that the majority of people who have significant incomes, who are likely the ones that have planned for retirement, respond as being happy about thinking about retiring.
"America has to wake up and realize that the rate at which we save for retirement, at the late age that we start, will simply NOT be enough, even when combined with a Social Security benefit, to enjoy a comfortable retirement lifestyle. Until everyone starts thinking about and planning for retirement around age 25 or so, our job as financial professionals is not done, and we have a very, very long way to go."
Regardless of where you plan to retire, the number one factor in ensuring that you can retire on your terms is your 401(k). Make sure that your 401(k) is maximizing its potential with this free analysis that checks your fees, fund mix, and other factors to help you hit your retirement goals. For more of our exclusive retirement data and insights, visit MoneyTips Retirement Survey Findings.