The 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey sponsored by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, the American Savings Education Council and Mathew Greenwald & Associates has tracked thoughts on retirement for 22 years. It gauges the experiences, attitudes and expectations of Americans regarding retirement preparation and related issues. Here are a few numbers and some questions to ask yourself.Fourteen percent of workers are confident they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement, and 38 percent are somewhat confident. With that, only 10 percent have more than $250,000 in savings and investments; 30 percent have between $25-250,000; and more than 60 percent have less than $25,000 (excluding primary residence and pension plans). What is your definition of living comfortably? How do you decide how much is enough? What do you need to do to get there?Forty two percent of respondents and/or spouses have tried to calculate how much money they will need to save in order to retire comfortably. For workers who have done a retirement savings needs calculation, 22 percent estimate they need to accumulate at least $1 million for their retirement years. At the other end, 27 percent think they need to save less than $250,000. The questions arise: What kind of growth rate do you need on your investments to sustain a distribution stream to support your lifestyle? What inflation factors to you need to incorporate into that growth and distribution rate? How do you manage economic volatility in your investment/distribution strategy?In evaluating their progress in planning and saving for retirement, 67 percent state they are behind schedule, as compared to 9 percent that are ahead of schedule and 22 percent that are right on track. Where do you sit on the track? Where is your track going to? What have people done that are on track or ahead of the game that got them there? For current retirees who did plan, 51 percent started 10 to more than 20 years before they shifted gears. Thirty-two percent started less than 10 years before retiring. What adjustments do you need to make to your future lifestyle expectations if you get a later start? Ninety one percent of current retirees say that Social Security is a source of income, while 79 percent of current workers expect Social Security to be a source of retirement income. Have you checked your Social Security report lately? Do you know what your options are in taking it? What portion of your future income will Social Security be? Are you content with that?In the 2010 RCS survey, 92 percent of retirees who worked for pay were doing so to stay active and involved and enjoyed working. Ninety percent did identify at least one financial reason for continued work, such as buying extras, keeping health insurance, or the decrease in the value of their investments. What does your future work environment look like? Why do you want to work?The retirement landscape is changing dramatically. We are at a crossroads for defining what our futures hold, and I believe it can be much better than what the financial services industry has led us to believe. We have an opportunity to live more productive, engaged and fulfilling lives. More than being categorized as a statistic, I encourage you to understand, embrace and prepare for the financial implications of your future life transitions, whatever you want them to be.You can check out the report at www.ebri.org. Take these statistics for what you will. If they motivate you to make some changes, address some concerns, or affirm your efforts to plan and prepare, that's great! Danielle Howard is a Certified Financial Planner ™ practitioner and Financial Life Planner. Her office is located at 23300 Two Rivers Road in Basalt. Visit her at www.howardfinancialresources.com or call 927-3909. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.Advisory services offered through Lighthouse Financial LLC, a registered investment advisor. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research Inc., a broker/dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Cambridge and HFR are not affiliated.
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