Most people have very little tucked away for retirement, and many aren’t even trying to figure out how much they’ll need later in life, a new national survey reveals. About 36% of workers have less than $1,000 in savings and investments that could be used for retirement, not counting their primary residence or defined benefits plans such as traditional pensions, and 60% of workers have less than $25,000, according to a telephone survey of 1,000 workers and 501 retirees from the non-profit Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald and Associates.
Only 44% say they or their spouses have tried to calculate how much money they’ll need to save by the time they retire so that they can live comfortably in their golden years, the survey shows. Workers who have done calculations on what they need to save tend to have higher levels of savings than those who haven’t crunched the numbers.
“There’s an incredible difference between those lucky enough to have a retirement plan and those who don’t,” says Jack VanDerhei, the institute’s research director and co-author of the 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey. “What’s really striking is that 73% of those without a retirement plan, such as an IRA, 401(k) or 403(b), have less than $1,000 in savings and investments.” Many people realize that they are not on track in saving for retirement, and the two most important reasons they give for not saving more are cost of living and day-to-day expenses, VanDerhei says.
People’s confidence that they’ll have a comfortable retirement has risen slightly after record lows of the last five years, with 18% of workers in 2014 saying they are very confident they can retire comfortably, up from 13% who were very confident in 2013. Meanwhile, 24% are not at all confident they have enough saved for a comfortable retirement, about the same as 2013. Retirement confidence is present mostly in people with higher incomes and in those with retirement plans, VanDerhei says.
The survey “highlights the impending retirement crisis that we will face over the next 20 years,” says Mark Fried, president of TFG Wealth Management. If possible, people 40 and older should try to save up to 20% of their income, he says. Invest in your company’s retirement account up to the match. One of the best ways to increase your retirement savings is to take advantage of your employer match if you have one, he adds.
John Piershale, a certified financial planner, says: “Try to imagine how much you are going to need to have saved up to last you 20 to 30 years during retirement. The only way you can figure that out is do some retirement calculations.” If people are far behind in saving for retirement, they may need to work longer at their current job or get a second job to help fill the savings gap,” Piershale says.
Other survey findings: