Financial Literacy 2007 - Retirement
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Work until you die: A new retirement goal

Income seems less important. Roughly four out of 10 respondents in all income levels -- that is those who earn under $20,000 annually up to those who make more than $75,000 - expect life to get better in retirement. Those who earn between $20,000 to $29,000 are most optimistic, with slightly more -- 46 percent -- counting on greater things to come.

It's the mid-level career crowd -- with incomes between $40,000 and $49,000 annually -- who are the most pessimistic. More than one-quarter of them (26 percent) expect life to be worse in retirement. That's far higher the 16 percent of lower-income workers raking in less than $20,000 who agree with that sentiment.  

That negativity among the relatively well-paid may not make sense until one recalls that most of this crowd are those same 35 to 49-year-olds who've put retirement savings on hold even as they're profoundly aware they've got to pay for it, says Dee Lee, a certified financial planner and author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Retiring Early" who counsels individuals nationwide about retirement.

"They're in a consumption phase, and there's really not much money left, "says Lee. "They want the house, but maybe they bought it 12 years ago. The fridge goes, the screen door goes. Paying for those kinds of things add up. They have childcare, which can be as much as $50,000 a year. They want that all-American dream, the house, the kid, the backyard, the two cars. It's not like they don't know retirement is there for them. But they're stuck."

How much do you worry about outliving your retirement savings?

Source: 2007

Worry about the future

Perhaps it's not surprising then that this same crowd of 35-to-49-year olds is most fearful about the future. When asked "how much do you worry about outliving retirement savings?" 21 percent of them said "a great deal." On average, just 14 percent of individuals of all ages worries this much.

Generally though, our survey found that Americans are optimistic about their cash flow in retirement. Forty-two percent of the people surveyed said they "never worry" about outliving their money.

This statistic doesn't impress Belmer. "The 40 percent who don't worry are analogous to an ostrich. They just don't want to think about it. Retirement is a problem for another day."  

This national random-digit-dialed phone study of 687 adults 18 or older was conducted for Bankrate by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media. The surveys were conducted from March 29 through April 1, 2007. The sample was weighted by demographic factors including age, gender, race, education and census region to ensure reliable and accurate representation of adults in U.S. households. Results based on the entire sample of 687 adults are projectable to the entire adult population in the United States, with a sampling error of plus or minus 3.7 percent.

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