Franklin Templeton Survey Examines Anxiety Related to Retirement Savings

Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of Americans find thinking about retirement saving and investing to be a source of stress and anxiety, according to findings from the 2013 Franklin Templeton Retirement Income Strategies and Expectations (RISE) survey.  

“The findings reveal that the pressures of saving for retirement are felt much earlier than you might expect. Some people begin feeling the weight of affording retirement as early as 30 years before they reach that phase of their life,” said Michael Doshier, vice president of Retirement Marketing for Franklin Templeton Investments.  “Very telling, those who have never worked with a financial advisor are more than three times as likely to indicate a significant degree of stress and anxiety about their retirement savings as those who currently work with an advisor.”  

The 2013 RISE survey found that retirement stress is on the rise, with over a third (37 percent) of respondents indicating that they are more concerned about outliving their assets or having to make major sacrifices to their retirement plans today than 12 months ago.  In response to this stress, two-thirds (67 percent) of pre-retirees indicated they are willing to make financial sacrifices now in order to live better in retirement.  

In contrast to those making financial sacrifices to save, three in 10 American adults have not started saving for retirement.  It is not just young adults who are lacking in savings; 68 percent of those aged 45 to 54 and half of those aged 55 to 64 have $100,000 or less in retirement savings.  

Income is a Source of Retirement Stress  

Respondents have an understanding of their expected expenses in retirement, indicating that the expenses they are most concerned about paying are:  healthcare (48 percent), followed by living (24 percent housing, 3 percent food) and lifestyle (12 percent).  A full 93% of pre-retirees expect their retirement expenses to be similar or less than pre-retirement spending, and only 15% of those retired indicated that their actual retirement spending was more than expected.  

An examination of retirement income sources revealed that nearly half (47 percent) of respondents do not know with a high degree of confidence how much of their current income will be replaced by Social Security and a comparable number (44 percent) are similarly unsure concerning their employer-sponsored (defined contribution) retirement plan (i.e., 401(k), 403(b)).  More than three in five pre-retirees (62 percent) do not know how much they can expect to withdraw from their savings annually during retirement.  

Working with an advisor appears to help; 58 percent of those who have worked with an advisor to develop a written retirement income strategy are confident about how much of their income will be replaced by Social Security, and 55 percent are confident about how much of their income will be replaced by their employer-sponsored retirement plan.  

Retirement Misconceptions  

The survey revealed two retirement misconceptions that might have serious implications on retirees’ retirement income.  

When asked what adjustment they would make if they were unable to retire as planned due to insufficient income, the top two responses were to delay retirement (62 percent) and to increase sources of income (i.e. work part-time) (45 percent).  However, one-third of today’s retirees surveyed were forced into retirement due to circumstances beyond their control, such as health issues and company downsizing, indicating that working longer may not be a realistic option for many people.  

Secondly, the majority (74 percent) of pre-retirees anticipates taking Social Security benefits at their “full” retirement age (between ages 66 to 67) or later.  However, the majority (63 percent) of today’s retirees were forced to tap Social Security benefits early, sacrificing their benefit amount by as much as 25 percent.  

“Assuming you can just stay on the job longer could cost you,” added Doshier.  “But taking just a little time to write down a plan, with an advisor, can not only help you understand your true options better, it might also reduce your feelings of stress.” 

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