America's retirement prospects in doubt

Ralph Lunt, Certified Financial Planner and Chartered Financial Consultant with Strategic Capital Advisors in Ohio, agrees. "No one says, 'I'm going to decrease my 401(k) contribution to buy a new SUV,' because it's a pain in the rear" to make changes in a retirement plan.

Changes to plan as result of the economy
Has the current economic climate caused you
to make any of the following changes to your
IRA, 401(k) or workplace retirement plan
over the past year? Have you...
Total18 - 3435 - 4950+
Decreased contributions15%16%13%19%
Increased contributions16%13%14%18%
Kept contributions the same73%77%75%69%
Stopped contributing altogether8%9%6%11%
Made a withdrawal from your IRA or taken a
loan from your 401(k) or retirement account

"To take the time to dig up a password or go to HR and say, 'I want to decrease my contribution' -- that usually means you need the cash flow or something is going on. And it's the same on the flip side -- increasing a contribution. Something has to spur them to do it," he says.

Relatively few people across all age brackets (8 percent) stopped contributing altogether to their plans.

 The big disconnect
About two-thirds of Americans polled have retirement accounts, whether through work or an IRA. That's not far off from the numbers garnered last year by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, or EBRI, which found that some 60 percent of workers had access to a plan.


"I can't imagine the employer who hasn't read that a 401(k) plan is a good thing to reward, retain and recruit employees, and there are tax breaks out there for them too, but one-third of them don't have them," says Lunt.

People without employer-sponsored plans are on their own to find out about IRA options, which could be overwhelming for some, says Lunt.

Ages of those with an IRA or workplace retirement plan
Do you currently have any
type of IRA, 401(k) or
workplace retirement plan?
Total18 - 2425 - 3435 - 4950 - 64

Chanc Woods, a Certified Financial Planner in Dallas, cautions that including workers under the age of 21 could have skewed the data results.

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