Survey: American's Realistic about Retirement Challenges

October 19, 2004 ( - When asked to compare their retirement savings to a current reality television show, a majority of respondents to the Allstate "Retirement Reality Check" survey chose an old favorite: 'Survivor'.

Asking respondents what reality show and accompanying quotation that future retirees most related to, Allstate reports that regardless of race, gender, education, income and geography, people overwhelmingly choose Survivor. Its accompanying quotation was “It’s going to be a challenge, but disciplined budgeting will lead to a great retirement.”

Other shows that made the list were:

  • ‘Joe Millionaire’ (“I am financially secure and have no worries about retirement”), with 14% of respondents agreeing.
  • ‘The Apprentice’ (“I believe I ill have to work during retirement to maintain my lifestyle”) at 13% support.
  • ‘Extreme Makeover’ (“My retirement preparations need a complete overhaul”), with 6% agreeing.

The current view of future retirees is a cautious but rosy one. Eighteen percent of respondents strongly agree that retirement will be the best years of their lives, with 35% somewhat agreeing. Eighty-three percent of future retirees see it as a time do to what they want, while 78% view as it a time for family. Sixty-nine percent view it as a time to have less stress. Twenty percent say they are very ready for retirement, while over half (56%) think they are somewhat financially prepared.

Healthcare Looms

Health care costs are the biggest worry for future retirees, according to the survey. Sixty-three percent of respondents are concerned about the ability to afford health care upon retirement. By generation, 68% of Generation-Xers had this concern, while only 64% of baby Boomers have the same concern. Of the Silent Generation – those older than Boomers – only 55% percent have this concern.

Other concerns about retirement are:

  • the ability to pay the bills in case of disability (81%),
  • pay for children’s education (77%),
  • repair a severely damaged home (83%), and
  • replace cars in case of accident (62%).

The Allstate survey also questioned current seniors on what they would have done differently if they could do it all over again. The most common responses were with regards to education on possibly savings alternatives (32%) and deciding which investment vehicles were best (28%).

The Allstate survey was conducted of those people born between the years 1946 and 1978 who had household incomes about $35,000. In the past, Allstate’s methods had been questioned by regarding the diversity of sample data (See A “Reality Check” for the Allstate Reality Check ).