I've been avoiding writing retirement planning blogs about surveys that tell us what we already know.
Yes, most people aren't saving enough money. Yes, women don't save as much as men. Yes, people give their children too much -- even when they are adults and, in theory, ought to be totally earning their own way.
But today I saw a survey by Charles Schwab that encapsulated the issues that most of us face and illustrated the divide between people who are trying to save for retirement and the employers and financial experts who are trying to help them.
Here's the bottom line:
- Some 73 percent of people with 401(k)s spend less than eight hours a year managing them.
- More than 52 percent say they don't have the time, interest or knowledge to properly manage their 401(k) portfolio.
- Fifty-six percent say they don't look at the educational materials about their plans.
- While 83 percent say they are interested in receiving professional investment management from their employers, only 10 percent take advantage of investment management advice when it is offered.
At the same time, employers persist in offering the kind of help that employees clearly aren't interested in. The majority of employers plan to increase their use of "traditional outreach methods, including interactive planning tools (93 percent), printed educational materials (93 percent), and in-person workshops (81 percent)," according to Schwab's research.
Great. The boss dutifully distributes a pretty package of information and the employee recipients toss it in the trash.
Getting old isn't a lifestyle choice that will go away. What people need and want when they are planning for retirement either isn't what's available to them or if it is, they don't use it. Time for everyone to go back to the drawing board and rethink retirement planning from the beginning. The potential payoff is huge.