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Financial security elusive

By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Posted: 3 pm ET

Many people living in retirement are feeling more financially pinched this January than they did 12 months ago, according to a survey of financial security conducted for Bankrate.com.

The survey looked at all ages and all employment situations, and you can see the overall results here. But I was interested in seeing how retirement planning was working out for people who have already hung up their work boots, so I pulled these findings out of the overall numbers.

These responses are from people who identified themselves as retired -- as opposed to unemployed. Forty-one percent were men and 59 percent were women. The majority -- 63 percent -- were older than 65; 10 percent refused to say how old they were; all but 2 percent of the rest were older than 50. Some 23 percent lived alone; the remainder lived with at least one other person.  Only 21 percent graduated from college, while 11 percent didn't finish high school. The rest were somewhere in the middle.

Here's what they said about their financial situation compared to January of 2011.

How do you feel about the amount of money you have in savings compared to 12 months ago? Are you more comfortable with your savings today, less comfortable with your savings today, or do you feel about the same?

  • 10 percent were more comfortable with their savings.
  • 40 percent were less comfortable.
  • 44 percent were about the same.
  • 6 percent didn't know.

How do you feel about the amount of debt you have compared to 12 months ago? Are you more comfortable with your debt today, less comfortable with your debt today, or do you feel about the same?

  • 18 percent were more comfortable with debt today.
  • 19 percent were less comfortable.
  • 51 percent were about the same.
  • 11 percent didn't know/wouldn't answer.

Compared to 12 months ago, how does your net worth -- that is, your total assets including any equity you might have in a home or other property minus your debts -- stack up?

  • 11 percent higher today.
  • 28 percent lower today.
  • 53 percent about the same.
  • 8 percent don't know.

Compared to 12 months ago, how does your overall financial situation measure up?

  • 12 percent better today.
  • 30 percent worse today.
  • 55 percent about the same.
  • 3 percent don't know.

You could argue that I'm looking at this from a glass-half-empty point of view, and certainly there are a significant number of people who have seen no change in their situations and a minority for whom things are better. But as we enter the fifth year of a tough economy, it's clear that many retired people are still dealing with tough financial challenges.

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