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<p>WASHINGTON – Retirement, for most Americans, conjures up images of leisurely living and having the time to pursue interests that have been put on hold because of work responsibilities. But judging from findings of the 2002 Retirement Confidence Survey which has been tracking for more than a decade trends in retirement confidence and retirement planning behavior among Americans, these images may remain just that for many individuals. 2002 marked the 12th time the Retirement Confidence Survey was conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, the American Savings Education Council, and Mathew Greenwald & Associates. This year’s survey found that although workers are just as likely in 2002 to have saved for retirement as they were a year ago and to consider themselves as being on track with planning and saving for retirement, they are less likely to have calculated how much money they’ll need to have saved by the time they retire. Survey data showed that the proportion of workers who are very or somewhat confident of having enough money to allow them to live comfortably through their retirement years increased from 63% in 2001, to 70% in 2002. Likewise 84% of workers in 2002 indicated they are confident they’ll have enough money to pay for basic expenses – up from 78% in 2001 – and medical expenses – 58% in 2001, 65% in 2002. However, workers’ confidence in doing a good job of preparing financially for retirement has not increased significantly – 69% in 2001, 72% in 2002. When it comes to handling finances, the survey concludes, “Americans exhibit a wide variety of attitudes and behaviors” – almost two-thirds see themselves as disciplined savers; half admit that just when they think they have a handle on their finances, something always happens that sets them back from their financial goal; 56% believe that stocks in general will be a good investment over the next 10 to 20 years; and 34% indicated they’d be unwilling to take any financial risk, no matter what the gain. Based on respondents’ statements describing their retirement savings attitudes, the survey assigned respondents to one of five groups: Planners (23% of Americans): are disciplined savers and financial risk takers. They enjoy financial planning and believe anyone can have a comfortable retirement if they plan and save. Savers (19%): are careful with their money and are seldom set back by unexpected events. Their risk-averse behavior makes them savers rather than investors. Strugglers (18%): frequently suffer financial setbacks. Many consider themselves disciplined savers, but they are easily swayed from this and are cautious with their savings. Impulsives (24%): believe a comfortable retirement is possible. Many are willing to take financial risks, but they are not disciplined savers. They are prone to impulse buying and financial setbacks. Deniers (15%): dislike financial planning and seldom plan ahead even for more immediate financial concerns. They don’t feel a comfortable retirement is within their reach. The average non-retired worker plans to retire at age 65, but younger workers expect to retire earlier than older workers. Those, for example, ages 20-39 envision themselves retiring earlier than those ages 40-59 – 31% of the younger group intend to retire at age 61 or sooner, compared to 28% of the older group. Overall, a majority of workers expect to spend at least 20 years in retirement, and 17% say they will need less than 50% of their pre-retirement income to live comfortably in retirement. According to the survey, more than half of retirees have a retirement income that is at least 80% of their preretirement income, while just 25% reported their current income is less than 60% of their preretirement income. Workers also expect the largest share of their income in retirement will come from personal savings, either from money they or their spouse put into a retirement plan or from personal savings outside of work. Fourteen percent expect their largest source of retirement income will come from a defined benefit plan, and almost as many expect Social Security to provide this source of income. Ironically, while 65 is workers’ targeted retirement age, the majority of today’s workers will not be eligible to receive full retirement benefits from Social Security until they are 67, and most are unaware of this phased increase in the Social Security normal retirement age from 65 to 67. In fact, more than half expect to reach full eligibility for Social Security benefits sooner than they actually will. -</p> <p>[email protected]</p>

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