Thanks in part of lower gas prices, seventy-six percent of people who have not yet retired are confident they will have enough savings to manage retirement when the time comes, a 21-point increase since the last index reading in the fall.
This is according to the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index, which also found that 56 percent polled have seen a noticeable increase in the value of their retirement accounts, as compared to 44 percent two years ago.
The index is based on responses from 1,011 investors, each with savings and investments of $10,000 or more.
The drop in fuel prices appears to be a major factor in the increased optimism, with 68 percent saying that it is helping in some amount from a little to a lot, with only about a third saying that it has had no effect.
Either way, lower gas prices are saving Americans an average of $108 a month. For retirees, who don’t have to commute, savings are estimated lower, at $68; for those still working, it’s $117.
Seven in 10 said they are using gas and oil savings to improve their personal balance sheet, 37 percent are using it to pay down debt and 33 percent are adding it to their personal savings.
Regarding government initiatives to promote retirement savings such as the recently-launched MyRA program, more than half said that guiding beginners into Treasury bonds with no virtually no risk of loss is the way things should be handled. Only a quarter recommended encouraging investment into funds with higher potential payoffs but a threat of losing principal.
Saving and investing won out over home equity as the way to create wealth and fund retirement. Fifty-four percent pointed to the stock market as the path to increasing wealth with only 41 citing buying a home as the way. Sixty-seven percent of homeowners said that they would not use any home equity to fund their retirements. In other areas of the economy:
A little more than half of investors are expecting a slight increase in interest rates, but few believe there will be a sizeable spike. Slightly less than a quarter of investors said that they would be very or somewhat likely to transfer money from the stock market into more conservative investments were there an increase in interest rates.
Investors were not sold on the idea of temporary or contract work positions that don’t offer benefits as being good for the economy, with 52 percent seeing the trend of these types of jobs as bad and only 41 percent seeing it as good.