The traditional model for funding a life after 65 has radically changed, as workers scramble to find other sources of retirement income besides pensions, 401(k)s and Social Security and look to a longer stay in the workplace as a way of propping up their finances in their golden years.
Todays workers recognize they need to save and self-fund a greater portion of their retirement income, said Catherine Collinson, president of Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. In response, they are transforming the United States retirement system from a three-legged stool into a table by creating a fourth leg: working.
Younger workers, especially, know they wont have access to defined benefit pensions and most dont believe Social Security will still be available to them when they do decide to retire. Many plan to rely on their workplace retirement plans in conjunction with other savings and investments, home equity, inheritances and working longer.
Transamerica and Harris Poll conducted an online survey of 4,550 workers over the age of 18 who work for an employer with at least 10 employees.
The poll found that 58% of workers plan to work past age 65 or dont plan on retiring at all, but that attitude differs by age group. Sixty-one percent of workers in their 40s, 59% of workers in their 50s and 82% of workers in their 60s and older plan to work past age 65 or do not plan to retire. Half of those in their 20s and 30s expect to retire at age 65 or sooner, the poll found.
Thirteen percent of those surveyed said that working will be their primary source of income in retirement, while 37% said they expect working to be a source of income in retirement, the study found. Social Security continues to be the main source of retirement income for 69% of the population, while retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s and IRAs make up another 68%. Forty-five percent of those surveyed said that other savings and investments would contribute to their retirement. Only 23% mentioned defined benefit pension plans; 13% said home equity and 11% expected to inherit their retirement money.
The long-held view that retirement is a moment in time when people reach a certain age, immediately stop working, fully retire and begin pursuing their dreams is more myth than reality, said Collinson. Retirement has become a transition that may be phased over time or happen abruptly due to intervening circumstances.
All age groups dream about what they will do in retirement.
Todays workers in their 20s are embarking on their careers and juggling financial priorities, yet many are already saving for retirement, Collinson said. By starting at a young age and investing wisely, they can grow their nest eggs over four to five decades and enjoy the compounding of their investments over time.
The survey found that 67% of workers in their 20s are already saving for retirement, despite competing financial priorities such as credit card debt and student loans. The bad news is that 37% of this group admitted they know nothing about asset allocation principles. About 24% said they are investing in low-risk, low-return investments, which may be too conservative given their time horizon, while others (27%) are not sure how their savings are invested, the survey found. Eighty-one percent of this group are concerned that Social Security wont be there for them when they retire.
Transamerica found that 76% of workers in their 30s are saving for retirement. Among those participating in a 401(k) or other workplace plan, 30% said they are contributing 10% or more of their pay.
Those in their 40s are still contending with the aftermath of the Great Recession, balancing work, kids and aging parents, Collinson said. Its important for them to remember that they can improve their long-term prospects. They still have 20 or more years to save.
Only 10% of workers in their 40s are very confident they will be able to comfortably retire one day. And although 82% said they are participating in a plan at work and are contributing 7% of their annual pay, only 23% are contributing more than 10%. Transamerica found that total household retirement savings of workers in their 40s is $63,000.
Eighty percent of people in their 50s are saving for retirement and among those who have access to a workplace retirement plan, 83% said they participate in it. Among those, 31% say they are contributing more than 10% of their income to it.
Collinson said that people in their 50s need to formulate a retirement strategy. The survey found that only 60% have done so and only 14% say they have a written plan. More than half guessed at what they will need in retirement.
Eighty-two percent of workers over age 60 expect to work or are already working past age 65. Of those, 56% are doing this because they cant afford to retire or they need health benefits.
Nearly half of this age group plan to rely on Social Security as their primary form of income in retirement.
It is never too soon or too late to save, invest and plan for retirement. By taking proactive steps today, workers of all ages can improve their retirement outlook, said Collinson. By extending our working lives and fully retiring at an older age, we can earn income, bridge savings shortfalls and stay active and involved. Its also important to remember that lifes unforeseen circumstances, such as health issues or job loss, can derail the best laid plans. Everyone needs a Plan B for the unexpected.
The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies is a division of Transamerica Institute, a nonprofit private foundation. The institute is funded by Transamerica Life Insurance Company and its affiliates.
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