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Save now, retire later

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Posted: 4 pm ET

Only 14 percent of Americans are very confident that they will have enough money to retire and live comfortably, according to the 22nd annual Employee Benefit Research Institute's Retirement Confidence Survey released today.

This number hasn't changed since 2009 when a host of people not too far from retirement lost their jobs. According to the survey, 42 percent see uncertainty over whether they will have a job as their most pressing economic issue.

The survey also emphasizes that many Americans haven't saved much for retirement. Some 60 percent of workers say -- not counting the value of their homes and any old-fashioned defined-benefit pensions they may expect -- their savings total less than $25,000. That's a drop in the bucket if you're depending on it to pay for your retirement.

As a result, 37 percent of people are planning to retire later than age 65 -- a big change from the 1991 survey results when only 11 percent of workers said they expected to retire after age 65. The survey points out that the idea of delaying retirement may not work out because historically, 50 percent of people are forced by either their employers or their health to retire earlier than they expected.

In the meantime, most people apparently aren't doing much to help themselves. More than half of workers -- 56 percent -- say they haven't even tried to figure out how much money they'll need to retire -- a solid starting point for retirement planning.

While the EBRI is king of the bad-news bears -- I've never read a positive analysis from them -- most of this report rings true. And it comes at a time when it is unclear how Social Security's shaky finances will be shored up.

It seems clear that we should all do ourselves a big favor and start saving as much as we can.

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