Opinion

50 percent of Americans not looking forward to retirement

If your feelings regarding the elusive notion of retirement include the words "regret," "frustration" and "envy," you're not alone - and if you're vastly underprepared for the financial consequences of retirement, join the club.

A new round of research from TD Ameritrade suggests the average American is not particularly keen on their own retirement prospects and, depending on his or her age, is also not in any financial shape to tiptoe off into those golden years.

The survey, which captured the feelings of 2,000 respondents born between 1930 and 1989, also demonstrated the difference in opinions that's developed between the generations.

Boomers polled said they'd probably squirreled away 49 percent of what they need for retirement, Gen Xers had only saved 26 percent and Gen Y-aged respondents had achieved just 15 percent of their retirement goals. Members of the Mature generation said they'd hit about 70 percent of what they needed.

Not a particular shocker. The point, the company says, seems to be that the past few years of economic free-fall have considerably eaten into Americans' retirement planning, as they lost their jobs, dipped into their 401(k)s or floated along in a climate that even the Federal Reserve notes has seen median net worth for most family drop by 40 percent, putting many of us back to where we were in the early 1990s.

TD Ameritrade's study says that the reality is that 80 percent of respondents, regardless of age, now accept that they'll probably be working part-time (or even full-time) in retirement, though their mental expectations of their lifespan in retirement (18 to 22 years) is less than what the stats suggest (factor 20 to 25 years of retirement income needs, in reality).

Most ominous is the psychological profile that emerged among respondents, with the exception of older, already retirement-aged Americans, who are positive about their future and financially well-off enough to survive.

The Boomers? "Anxious and regretful." Their retirement prospects are bleak, their financial issues are tantamount and their time is coming soon. Strangely, their feelings are much more positive, compared to their younger contemporaries.

Gen Xers' feelings? "Embarassed, frustrated and envious." They got into the 401(k) game later in their careers and saw their savings decimated, they work in careers where pension plans have dried up and they expect Social Security to be dead and gone by the time they need any retirement benefits, despite paying into the system.

And those poor Millenials? "Disinterested and lacking control." Retirement is far off and they  have other things to worry about. At the same time, that distance also has made them feel optimistic that their retirement finances may not be so bad. Perhaps the aliens from all the Michael Bay movies they love so much will come and reform the 401(k) system in the future.

Wow. Given all that uplifting news, what advice does TD Ameritrade have for the beleaguered and bedraggled masses?

Do something - anything. They, like other companies, have loads of tools to calculate financial readiness and, not surprisingly, are interested in seeing younger workers take an active role in their retirement planning and getting whatever resources they do posses more efficiently invested. 

About the Author
Andy Stonehouse

Andy Stonehouse

Andy Stonehouse is the Retirement Advisor channel manager for BenefitsPro.com. He is the former editor of Agent’s Sales Journal magazine, and has also worked with Senior Market Advisor and LifeHealthPro.com.

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