Surveys Say: A Retirement Survey Roundup

It must have been retirement survey day yesterday — and as a result we now know that Gen Y are conservative savers, couples aren’t communicating about finances as well as they think, and Gen Xers — at least some of them — are proactively preparing for retirement (or say they are).

First off, a survey from TIAA-CREF of 1,000 adults nationwide finds that when it comes to retirement planning, Gen Y (age 18-34) may be more conservative than older generations in their outlook: 56% say they are counting on Social Security to provide income in their retirement, compared with 76% of 35- to 44-year-olds and 73% of 45- to 54-year-olds.

A third (34%) of Gen Y say if they could choose one primary goal for their retirement plan, it would be to ensure that their savings are safe, no matter what happens in the market — a sentiment shared by just 16% of Americans age 35 to 44 and 22% of Americans age 45 to 54.

However, the survey also found that nearly a third (31%) aren’t currently saving any money for retirement, due in part to financial challenges like student loans or jobs that don’t offer retirement plans.

Couples ‘Retreat’

Meanwhile, Fidelity Investments’ 2015 Couples Retirement Study found that while the overwhelming majority of couples (72%) say they communicate exceptionally or very well when it comes to financial matters, but more than four in 10 (43%, up from 27% in 2013) couldn’t correctly identify how much their partner makes — and of that, 10% were off by $25,000 or more.

Asked how much they will need to save to maintain their current lifestyle in retirement, nearly half (48%) have “no idea”— and 47% are in disagreement about the amount needed. This level of disagreement is highest among Boomers — those closest to retirement.

Not surprisingly, couples aren’t on the same page when it comes to describing their expected lifestyle in retirement — with one in three disagreeing about how comfortable that lifestyle will be. Nearly three-quarters (74%) say they worry about being able to afford unexpected health care costs in retirement (up from 70% in 2013), and just over half (51%) worry about outliving their savings in retirement, up from 42% in 2013.

Despite these concerns, only 21% have developed a retirement plan to ensure they do not outlive their savings and the number putting off planning is on the rise, with 36% indicating they haven’t even thought about doing so yet (up from 28% in 2013). Among younger investors, only 11% of Generation X (born 1965-1978) have developed a plan.

However, those who had a retirement plan in place were twice as likely to expect to live a “very comfortable” retirement (42% versus 18%), were more likely to be “completely confident” in assuming full financial responsibility for retirement if needed (67% versus 42%), and less likely to have “no idea” when it comes to how much they need in retirement (28% versus 54%).

‘X’ Mien

Finally, Ameriprise Financial’s Retirement 2.0 study finds that a sizeable majority of Gen Xers (76%) — at least among those with at least $100,000 in investable assets — report proactively planning for their retirement, with eight in 10 (79%) respondents currently saving through a 401(k) plan, and seven in 10 (69%) investing in an IRA or similar account. Among this group, the survey found that Gen Xers began planning for retirement early and started saving at the average age of 26. They anticipate relying on their 401(k) accounts (42%) or IRAs (29%) as their main sources of income during retirement, while pensions (14%) and Social Security (5%) are expected to take a back seat as primary sources of retirement funding.

The majority of Gen Xers (75%) share concerns over the rising cost of health care and 63% fear they could be burdened by the cost of long-term care. They also have concerns about not being able to rely on funds from Social Security or Medicare. But, even with these potential obstacles, most Gen Xers feel confident they are on track to meet their financial goals for retirement including paying off major debts (86%) and saving enough to cover all of their basic needs (96%).

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