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Barbara Whelehan writes Boomer Bucks for Bankrate.comAre you ready for retirement?

We've heard the adage that to become physically fit, we need to eat less and exercise more. The corollary for fiscal fitness is to spend less and save more.

A new retirement-readiness study suggests that we save more and retire later.

The new study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College resulted in the creation of the National Retirement Risk Index -- a nationally representative index to serve as a lightning rod for "one of the most compelling challenges facing the nation." In fact, the study is more comprehensive in scope than others that strive to measure Americans' preparation for retirement.

The biggest finding: 43 percent of households are on course to retire with less than adequate income. The numbers are worse for younger boomers and Generation Xers than for older boomers -- those born between 1946 and 1954. That's partly because older boomers have a greater likelihood of getting monthly incomes from traditional pension plans. These "defined benefit" plans are losing the popularity contest to "defined contribution" plans such as 401(k), 457 and 403(b) plans. The primary difference between the two types of plans: Employers are responsible for funding the old-fashioned kind, while workers must fund the others.

Most studies point to the same conclusion: Workers are not doing enough to prepare for a smooth transition to retirement. This study also paints the retirement picture in darker-than-golden hues, but it offers hope.

Findings, assumptions, improvements
First, let's review the study itself. Then we'll take a closer look at the findings and the assumptions behind them. We'll figure out how we can make changes for the better. And finally, look at the consequences of failing to make those changes.

"Retirements at Risk" study
Next: "... we can tweak ourselves into a more secure retirement ..."
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