A new Bankrate survey finds for the first time in the six years it has been polling, more Americans are feeling comfortable with their savings than feeling uncomfortable. Still, they aren’t really pushing their savings level up to account for the boost in morale.
Instead, compared with last year’s survey responses, the same percentage say they’re not saving anything, and even fewer people than last year say they’re putting away more than 10 percent of what they earn.
Not encouraging. It calls to mind the scene in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” in which Ron, struggling to read Harry’s tea leaves during a tessomancy session in their Divination class, says, “… you’re going to suffer, but you’re going to be happy about it.”
While they may be happy now, workers not saving enough will likely not be content during retirement, especially if they don’t take action to correct the situation.
One thing workers are definitely happy about is participating in a defined contribution plan. According to the 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute and survey firm Greenwald & Associates, another measure of how employees view their retirement prospects, just 60 percent of workers feel very or somewhat confident they will have enough money to enjoy a comfortable retirement. But when it comes to workers who participate in a DC retirement plan, that number jumps to 74 percent.
But that’s not the only morale boost from a retirement plan at work. Participants say they feel more financially secure (73 percent) than those who are offered, but do not participate, in a workplace plan (49 percent). They’re also more confident in being able to pay for basic expenses (79 percent, compared with 60 percent) and medical expenses (67 percent, compared with 48 percent) in retirement.
The EBRI study finds a decline in confidence, however, among those who feel very or somewhat confident in having enough; in 2016 64 percent replied that they were confident, while this year’s results dropped to 60 percent. In addition, they’re stressed about money, with 30 percent saying they’d be more productive at work if it weren’t for their preoccupation with financial woes.
But employers could likely push the confidence numbers — and participation rates — higher; 73 percent of workers not currently saving for retirement say they would be at least somewhat likely to save for retirement if contributions are matched by their employer, and approximately two-thirds of non-saving workers say they would be likely to save for retirement if automatic paycheck deductions, at either 3 percent or 6 percent of salary, were used by their employer.