Is the Path to Retirement Just Pure Luck? (Part I)

“300” height=”200″ />No. Last month, Wells Fargo and Gallup released a poll on household investors’ opinions. Wells Fargo’s media release headline reads: “Low Rates Force One in Three Investors to Delay Retirement.” The Los Angeles Times reads, “Low Interest Rates are Hampering Retirement Plans.”

Whenever I see these kinds of headlines, I like to get to heart of the matter. Retirement is starting to sound like a pipe dream subject to every outside influence, from where there the stock market is one day to who sneezes the next day. Surely there must be some signs of retirement hope

for the baby boomer generation and their offspring. I obtained a full copy of the Wells Fargo/Gallup survey and sifted through looking for glimmers good news. And I found several.

For non-retirees:

  • The majority (59 percent) of non-retirees surveyed have a specific financial plan to reach their retirement and investment goals.
  • The majority of non-retirees (76 percent) have confidence (ranging from some confidence to a great deal of confidence) that they will be able to maintain their current lifestyle in retirement without working.
  • An overwhelming majority (82 percent) of non-retirees have a good estimate (ranging from having some confidence to a great deal of con
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    fidence) of how much they will need to live comfortably in retirement.

  • While 67 percent

    of respondents reported that their company health care plans cost them more than they did a year ago, only 29 percent report that increases in health care premiums have caused them to save less for retirement.

For current retirees:

  • 75 percent of those surveyed have a specific financial plan to reach their retirement and investment goals.
  • The vast majority of retirees (85 percent) have confidence (ranging from some confidence to a great deal of confidence) that they will be able to maintain their current lifestyle in retirement without working.
  • 88 percent of retirees have a good estimate (ranging from having some confidence to a great deal of confidence) of how much they will need to live comfortably in retirement.

Both age groups show some overall positive news. However, the survey also showed some discouraging results, which I will address below andin a second blog post next week.

More than half (51 percent) of non-retirees have not written down their financial plan for retirement, while 42 percent of current retirees do not have a written financial plan. This can be a set-up for failure. Consider weight loss strategies. One study found that dieters who keep a “food diary,” lose more weight than those who don’t. So why not keep a financial plan with stated and realistic goals and a record of expenditures? How much is spent on little things, like Starbucks coffee and phone apps, is just as important as how much is spend on a home mortgage and health insurance. Writing down income and expenditures helps people become aware of where their money is going and how realistic their retirement goals are.

Think about retirement goals and your financial diet. I will write more on retirement attitudes from this survey next week.

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Comments (1)

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  1. Joe Barnett says:

    This is a survey of investors only. I wonder what percentage of all households are included in the survey — cause the majority of households in the U.S. are not prepared for retirement, and that will be a real problem in coming years.