Over 25% May be Overoptimistic about Retirement Planning

February 8, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Over 25% of consumers may be overly optimistic about how well they are planning and saving for retirement, according to a Wachovia Retirement Fitness study.

The study of 2,100 consumers shows that 26% feel confident about retirement planning, but many of these same individuals, when compared to those who are better prepared, usually do not rely on retirement savings strategies and are putting less into 401(k) and IRA plans.

On the other end of the spectrum, nearly 50% of those polled are concerned over planning and saving for retirement. This includes 36% who may not be prepared, and 11% who seem to be in better shape but are still concerned. The top three emotions tied to retirement, according to the survey? Uncertainty, worry, and fear.

Out of the survey, four retirement fitness categories were developed from the results. They are:

  • Fitness evaluation may be useful (for 26% of the respondents). Consumers in this group are not worried, even though they may not actually be ready.
  • At the starting line (36%). People in this group are concerned and may not be doing enough to prepare for retirement. This group has the ability to save more, but choose not to. Many expect to work during retirement.
  • Looking fit (11%). People in this group are concerned, but they appear to be on the right track. They often feel overwhelmed with investment choices and are often inexperienced investors.
  • Peak Performers (27%). This group is not concerned, and they shouldn’t be. They often think of themselves as smart investors and they have proven this to be true.

Looking at demographics, women are more likely than men to feel concerned about retirement, and households with children are less likely to prepare for retirement.

“These results exemplify the deep and very personal emotions that many consumers feel when considering their retirement needs,” said Bob Reid, Executive Vice President of Wachovia’s Retirement Strategy, in a press release. “For many of these consumers, market volatility, rising health care costs, Social Security and pension concerns, increased life expectancy and other factors have created a new retirement reality.”

A short assessment of the survey is available here .