Americans Cite Affording Retirement as Top Financial Concern

April 13, 2011 ( - Almost 40% of working Americans say they will never afford retirement, which, for the second year in a row, ranks as the nation’s most important financial concern, according to a survey conducted for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Retirement emerged as the top issue on a list of 16 possible financial concerns facing Americans, ahead of uninsured medical expenses, the price of gas and rising education costs, according to a press release.  

More than half of working adults (55%) say they don’t know how much they need to save to retire, and many who think they know are likely off in their projections. Asked to estimate how much they need to retire at age 65 and live for 20 years, those earning $50,000 to $75,000 annually said $250,000, at the median. Assuming inflation and annual expenses of $50,000, that amount of savings likely would run out in less than 10 years, AICPA said.  

Younger workers have the biggest gap between expectations for retirement and their knowledge about preparing for it, according to the survey. Sixty percent of those ages18 to 24 say they’ll be able to retire, yet 74% have no idea how much they need to save in order to make it happen.   

Fifty-six percent of survey respondents say they cannot save. Only 16% say they’re financially better off now than a year ago, and 29% say they’re worse off.  

Harris Interactive conducted this year’s survey by telephone within the United States between March 23 and March 27 among a nationwide cross-section of 1,005 adults ages 18 and older.