Most people understand that retirement is going to cost a lot, and that in order to maintain their current lifestyle once they stop working they are going to need a plenty of cash. But a new annual survey by Capital One Investing shows that while nine in 10 respondents know that they need to save for retirement, only three-quarters are actually doing something about it.
What’s more, fewer Americans are investing for retirement this year compared to last year. That’s particularly telling because unemployment is currently at an eight-year low of 4.9% while wages are creeping higher – a combination that ought to be boosting the saving confidence of employees.
Capital One Investing polled a little more than 1,000 currently employed adults to gauge how different age groups view retirement saving. While attitudes about retirement saving are going to differ depending on age, one thing is for sure: Overall, fewer survey respondents were confident that they are investing enough to live out their retirement in comfort compared to a year ago. “The current environment is tough for many investors, with market volatility, uncertainty about the economy, and other ongoing challenges and concerns continuing to impede confidence and willingness to invest for the future,” said Yvette Butler, president of Capital One Investing, in the report releasing the survey results. (For more, see Why Optimistic Savers Need to Get Real About Retirement.)
The researchers found that 75% of survey respondents are contributing some of their income to retirement today, compared to 80% last year. What’s more, only 64% are confident that they will live comfortably in retirement, down from 72% in 2015. More than 60% of Millennials think that they are saving enough, but 29% of working Millennials are saving only 5% of their income or less for retirement. (For more, see The Generation Gap in Retirement Savings.)
Market Volatility and an Uncertain Economy
While unemployment is hovering at an eight-year low, concerns about a slowdown in China, a decline in oil prices and a rancorous U.S. presidential primary race have left many investors worried about their investments and their finances. After all, the stock market has been on a wild ride since the start of 2016, and more volatility is expected as the year plays out. There are also other priorities that seem to be getting in the way of retirement saving.
According to Capital One Investing only 16% of survey respondents said that increasing their level of retirement savings was a top priority in 2016. More than a quarter said that traveling is their top goal for the year, while 23% were more focused on shedding some weight. Millennials, who grew up during the Great Recession, also aren’t making saving more for retirement a top priority. Only one in 10 said that growing their nest egg is their main goal for the year. Yet 31% are saving to travel, while 22% are aiming to purchase a home.
Of the age groups, Baby Boomers are the most likely to make retirement saving a top priority, though even in that group 21% are more focused on losing weight. Of course, many Boomers are nearing retirement age woefully unprepared, one of the reasons that saving has become so important to them. (For more, see Why Boomers’ Retirement Savings May Fall Short.)
It isn’t just other priorities that are preventing people from saving for retirement. Capital One Investing found that 76% of Americans think that saving for retirement today is lot more complex than when their grandparents were socking away money. Pensions have gone the way of the dinosaur, and financial investing has grown increasingly sophisticated.
Millennials are having the hardest time navigating retirement saving, with 85% saying that it’s tougher for them than their grandparents. But even Generation Xers and Baby Boomers feel the same way, with 72% and 73% respectively saying that the generations before them had an easier time of it. Two-thirds said that it’s tougher because of the complexities of investing today and also because they believe that they won’t have Social Security to rely on, while more than half blame it on the higher cost of investment advice and the lack of pensions. (For more, see How Retirement Attitudes of Baby-Boomers and Gen-Xers Differ.)
The Bottom Line
Most people are well aware that they are going to have to save money to fund their retirement. Nevertheless, far too many Americans are putting a priority on other things, whether it’s traveling or losing weight. Retirement planning has gotten a lot more complicated since the halcyon days of widespread pensions; saving and investing are even more necessary if people want to maintain a comfortable lifestyle after exiting the workforce.