The latest Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index stood at just below 80 percent in February, compared to 144.7 at the height of the 2000 dot-com boom. That's even though the Standard & Poor's reached a record high last week, having soared about 180 percent from its March 2009 low.

That is largely because consumers still face plenty of obstacles, including falling household income — which has slid 6 percent since March 1998 to a median of $52,297, according to Sentier Research. At the same time, prices have gone up for important goods and services — including medical care, food and gasoline while interest rates on savings remain low.

It is that last factor that has those saving for retirement particularly concerned and not feeling too ebullient about the resurgent S&P?

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