man in office jumping for joy'Yay, I have enough saved for retirement!' said no one nowadays.But wait — some do think that. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Although 44 percent of Americans overall who participate in acompany-sponsored retirement plan think they'llbe comfortable in retirement as long as they keep an eye on theirspending, a new study says that they're being overlyoptimistic.

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The 2019 Defined Contribution Survey from Natixisfinds that even though these optimists aren't in the majority,they're also probably wrong.

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Boomer respondents to the survey, it says, started saving forretirement at an average age of 32, and say they'll need to come upwith a total of $1,018,488 to fund their retirement.

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But here's the hitch: they've only hit about 30 percent of theirgoal, having saved an average of $306,703.

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But they still expect to retire at age 69, despite havingalready hit an average age of 64. To hit the total they think theyneed, they'll have to come up with a yearly savings total betweennow and then of about $142,357.

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Yet 48 percent of boomers think they'll be comfortable inretirement as long as they're careful with their spending, and 21percent believe they will have enough saved to lead the life theydesire.

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Among the more realistic boomers, 22 percent say they'llstruggle to have enough and 10 percent don't think they will everbe able to retire.

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Then there are the GenXers, who started saving at an average ageof 29. For some reason they think they'll need less thanboomers—just $980,466 on average—but have only hit 17 percent oftheir goal, with an average saved of just $166,328.

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That's especially since 66 percent of those who participate in acompany-sponsored defined contribution plan say that in addition towhat they're saving at work, Social Security will be their primarysource of funding for income in retirement—yet 42 percent of planparticipants don't believe the benefits will still be availablewhen they retire.

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They too have an optimistic view of their retirementage—expecting to leave the job at age 64—and are an average of 45presently. To meet their goal—lower than boomers, but stillhefty—they'll have to come up with $42,849 a year till they hitthat magic age.

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Still, 37 percent of Gen X members think they'll have a comfyretirement if they keep a close eye on the purse strings, while 18percent think they'll have enough saved to have the life theydesire in retirement.

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But 23 percent of their more realistic peers say they'llstruggle to have enough, while 23 percent don't think they'll everbe able to retire.

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What's holding all these folks back from saving more? Plenty,says the survey:

  • 65 percent cite daily living expenses
  • general debt,  43 percent
  • housing costs,  43 percent
  • health care costs,  32 percent

Then, of course, there are the 25 percent who are thegrasshoppers of the bunch, rather than the ants, who say they'drather spend money to enjoy life now.

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For millennials, these are the savings obstacles peoplecite:

  • daily expenses, 61 percent
  • general debt, 47 percent
  • housing costs, 40 percent
  • education costs and student loans, 28 percent
  • health care costs, 24 percent

And then there are the 27 percent who are, voluntarily or not,self-saboteurs, who have taken a withdrawal from their company DCplan. Life has caught up with these folks in the form of the needto pay down debt (38 percent); health care expenses (25 percent);purchase of a home (22 percent); loss of a job (17 percent); amedical emergency (15 percent); home repairs/maintenance (12percent); a major expense like a vacation or wedding (12 percent);and college tuition (10 percent).

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READ MORE:

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Gulf in retirement preparedness mirrors gulf inbehaviors

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Race, ethnicity play huge role in retirementpreparedness

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5 retirement preparedness numbers foremployers

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.