younger woman, older and younger man with worried faces looking up (Photo: Shutterstock)

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People really aren't very optimistic about how well off they'llbe financially once they retire. In fact, just 27 percent of respondentsin TIAA's 2019 Lifetime Income Survey say they're "veryconfident" that they will always feel financially secure, includingduring retirement.

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The chief obstacles to such confidence come in the form ofcompeting priorities, economic uncertainty and a lack of planning,according to the report, with just 35 percent of respondents sayingthey feel confident about being able to maintain their lifestylefor as long as they live.

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, older workers are more confidentfinancially than younger ones, possibly since many are still on thereceiving end of pensions and will spend fewer years dealing withthe effects of inflation.

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And it's interesting that GenXers are more worried about thepotential of running out of money than are millennials; in fact,GenXers are less confident by half—or by more than half—thanboomers about being able to maintain themselves financiallythroughout retirement without having to rely on someone else orlower their standard of living.

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While 39 percent of boomers are confident that they can retirewhen they want to, 45 percent believe they won't run out of moneyin retirement, 48 percent think they'll always feel financiallysecure, 53 percent think they'll be able to maintain a goodstandard of living throughout retirement and 56 percent believethey'll never become a financial burden to anyone else,

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Respondents overall are more worried about the effects of amajor stock market decline than they are about the potential for amedical event that could wipe them out. They're also more worriedabout the potential for significant cuts to Social Security andMedicare.

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So what makes them feel better about their long-term financialpicture? Saving regularly—and aggressively—for retirement top thelist, at 40 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

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Understanding how to pay down or eliminate debt came next, at 20percent, and then relying on a traditional pension plan forguaranteed lifetime income (18 percent).

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All other factors, including having diversified investments,having a plan, working with an advisor, saving for potentialretirement health care costs and being able to track theirprogress, inspired noticeably less confidence.

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And while saving does inspire confidence, 60 percent of GenXersadmitted to saving less than enough for retirement, compared withjust 26 percent of boomers.

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Marlene Satter

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