In fact, it wasn’t so many years ago that the results from these reports looked like workers were living in a confidence fantasy world, compared with their actual preparations. This week, I asked readers how their retirement confidence compared with a year ago – and for a plurality ( 44% ), it was “about the same.” Of course, as one reader noted, “I say “about the same” because I’m still scared to death. Right now, I have Social Security, an employer match and a pension to help me along, but I’m saving like those don’t exist, because I don’t think they will.”
Not that those sentiments were uniformly held. One reader noted, “I’m age 66+ and am retiring in a couple of weeks. I’m very pleased at the way my retirement savings (401(k) plan and outside investments) have held up in the recent market. Several of my individual investments have underperformed their benchmarks over past year, but asset allocation and diversification have made the difference (along with my having socked away — invested — substantial amounts over the years). My greatest retirement problems so far have been in dealing with the Social Security Administration’s bureaucracy, website and voice response system to get my Medicare coverage in place properly and my Social Security retirement benefits started.”
A common sentiment was expressed by the reader who said, “Sticking to the plan, but thinking I’ll be working a few more years.”
In fact, about one in four (26%) were less confident, about half that many (12.5%) were much less confident, and nearly 6% registered simply “Gulp” (one reader simply said, “What retirement confidence?” – or there was another reader who said, “In a word….Grim!” ) About one-in-ten were more confident, and just about 2%…hadn’t given it any thought.
I also asked readers if they had ever performed a retirement needs calculation - and how that had impacted their confidence. Nearly all of this week's respondents had done such a calculation, and about a quarter said they had done so "regularly." Just under a quarter ( 22.7% ) said they had done a calculation, but it had been awhile. Just over 7% said they hadn't done one - ever.
Among those that had done the calculation, nearly 40% said doing so had made them less confident about their retirement prospects, while 28% said they walked away from the experience more confident, and 27% said it made no difference. The rest either didn't remember how they felt afterwards, or hadn't done a calculation.
Which brings us, of course, to the verbatim comments, most of which appear on the following pages. However, among my favorites are:
It's about the same but I wasn't confident then either.
I'm confident that one day I'll retire, whether I'm ready to or not!
I am so overworked and stressed out that I probably won't make it to retirement.
At the rate that the economy is going, it looks like I'll be working even after I'm dead!
Retirement? You've got to be kidding! We put three kids through college.
But this week's Editor's Choice goes to the reader who said, "I'm more confident about retirement than I am about my income during the time between now and then."
Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!
|I'm more confident about retirement than I am about my income during the time between now and then.|
|Sticking to the plan, but thinking I'll be working a few more years.|
|I am so overworked and stressed out that I probably won't make it to retirement.|
|I just keep thinking about all the shares I'm buying "on sale" (or maybe clearance!) and how rich I'm going to be when the market recovers again.|
|I'm less confident as to whether or not I will ever be able to retire.|
|In a word....Grim!|
|I am very confident about my retirement. I have planned well and stick to my goals no matter what. (That means I skip the cruises, new cars every year, No keeping up with the Jones's.....Unfortunately, I worry that my personal planning will mean nothing if my taxes go up when I retire so that I can assist in supporting those individuals who live in a fantasy world and require public assistance during their retirement. It's harsh but I think they should be forced to save now (and not take any retirement plan withdrawals!) or receive no taxpayer paid assistance when they retire. Perhaps the experience of a little reality would help them learn to save! Why should those of us that give up a little now to have something later, have to support those who spend everything now without a thought to how they will live in retirement.|
|Who even believes they will retire anymore?|
|I'm age 66+ and am retiring in a couple of weeks. I'm very pleased at the way my retirement savings (401(k) plan and outside investments) have held up in the recent market. Several of my individual investments have underperformed their benchmarks over past year, but asset allocation and diversification have made the difference (along with my having socked away -- invested -- substantial amounts over the years). My greatest retirment problems so far have been in dealing with the Social Security Administration's bureaucracy, website and voice response system to get my Medicare coverage in place properly and my Social Security retirement benefits started. The fact that I actually worked in that bureaucracy years ago was of little help.|
|At the rate that the economy is going, it looks like I'll be working even after I'm dead!|
|What retirement confidence?|
|My choice to continue to live in the US now and into the future will not allow me to retire due to the Federal, State, City and school systems drain on my current income.|
|My comfort is a product of a good DB plan supplemented by 401(k) and good personal savings habits. Its increase comes from improving conditions at my DB plan sponsor (a good piece is a non-qualified SERP)|
|If you have a plan and stick with it, you can weather the ups and downs in the market.|
|It's not a question of changing confidence, it's a matter of my continual redefinition of "retirement". When I was younger, my definition of retirement was the same as my parents because they were the only example I had. Now that I am closer to retirement age (whatever that is), I don't want to just sit back and relax. My father-in-law is 85 and continues to run his real estate business, albeit mainly to get away from my mother-in-law on a daily basis. That is my ideal retirement now, to continue to be a productive member of society as long as possible, but hopefully with a different motivation.|
|I say "about the same" because I'm still scared to death. Right now, I have Social Security, an employer match and a pension to help me along, but I'm saving like those don't exist, because I don't think they will.|
|Biggest concern by far is healthcare. Former employer "capped" the retiree plan, which effectively puts an end to it.|
|NOte: Retirement calculators all say I am in great shape. But don't beleive them. None of them take into account real world conditions.|
|Looking like I will have to delay me expected retiremetn date form age 58 to age 60|
|I lost my job last year and had to tap my IRA to make ends meet. I've started a new job 3 weeks ago but my retirement savings has taken a significant hit.|
|Inheritance...not gonna happen Multi-state lotto win...a bagillion-to-one shot December-(late August)romance with a rich blue-hair from Miami...too much compettiion but less than a bagillion-to-one shot Stay the course and start now planning for medical, too...priceless|
|Not sure, my husband will have a military retirement at age 60, including medical care for both of us, but the pay is not much, social security - hah?!, and our 401(k)s and 403(b)'s are not looking so hot, especially with market changes. Who needs to retire?|
|It's about the same but I wasn't confident then either.|
|I'm confident that one day I'll retire, whether I'm ready to or not!|
As a bonus question - and with April 15 right around the corner, we asked readers their filing status.
Just over two-thirds ( 67% ) said they had already filed their taxes. As for "settling up" with Uncle Sam, nearly 60% said they did not owe the government any more money.
And then - I asked readers if they'd like to say anything - anonymously, of course - to the folks at the IRS and Congress that play a role in deciding the rate of taxation.
I'm not going to try and pick a winner here - but you can peruse a meaningful sampling on the following pages.
|Please use my tax money for good; not for evil.|
|all the time ( hrs & hrs) preparing my taxes is a total waste. We need a real flat tax at the FED level and the states need to be legally prohibited from have any type of income tax than one which is merely a % on one's federal tax.|
|I'm afraid that all of us "ants" working hard today and saving for tomorrow will have our nest eggs taxed away by the government in order to bail out the "grasshoppers" that don't have any savings (and who are probably the same individuals who bought houses that they couldn't afford).|
|To the IRS: Don't be literalists. Take "facts and circumstances" seriously, and don't be punitive with plan sponsors who make inadvertent mistakes. To Congress: You can't be serious|
|Thank you once again for punishing me for being a good saver. I paid a lot of taxes just because I am a good saver. Now does that really make sense to you?|
|A direct quote would be " $%%#%^ Alternative Tax "|
|If they want to stimulate the economy, lower taxes so we have more to spend!!|
|Can lottery tickets be deducted under a retirement plan savings account?|
|Solve the Social Security / Medicare / budget deficit issues, which may mean incrementally higher taxes, but don't allow the Bush Tax Cuts to disappear altogether, and don't increase the capital gains tax, period.|
|I owe money because of the AMT. Its amazing that even if I get a raise, my property taxes and state income taxes go up ata faster rate then my compensation so I am still paying the AMT. They want people to own homes, but I would probably be better off renting because I do not get the economic benefits of owning because of the AMT.|
|When it takes an undergrad degree in economics, a minor in mathematics, a law degree, and ten years dealing with tax qualification issues to do your taxes, perhaps it's time to re-examine the freaking tax laws. And don't get me started on the freaking forms.|
|Why don't they just let us apply our "rebate checks" to what we have to send them on 4/15?|
|There should be mandatory saving to your employer's plan ( No saving- no public assistance later) All withdrawals should be forbidden except hardship withdrawals to prevent eviction or foreclosure and payment of certain heavy medical expenses. Parents should not be allowed withdraw from their retirement account to pay for their childrens tuition, Children can take out loans as they have a lifetime to repay their loans and save for retirement,(Maybe they would pick a more affordable college if they had to pay for it themselves!) Their parents are running out of time to grow their retirement accounts. Additionally, if a person cannot afford a down payment on a home without taking the money from their retirement plan, it means they are unwilling to save for a goal outside of their employer plan, and may not be able to handle the responsibilities of home ownership so hardships for a home purchase should also be avoided. If they want home ownership bad enough they can learn to save instead of going on cruises! Congress should shop playing "parent"so that our citizens begin to understand that they are responsibile for their own future. Besides... I want to have fun when I retire instead of having to worry about taxes being at an all time high to support those who did no retirement planning/saving.|
|I think retirement age will be increasing as time goes by... we may not be in the same profession for life but we will at least be greeting people at Walmart or flipping burgers somewhere till we die... so my question... Do you want fries with that?|
|To Congress: The AMT situation needs to be addressed, pronto.|
|About these checks that we will be getting shortly--that is, only if we file income tax returns.... Is this the way the IRS gets all those people who haven't filed in years to come forward?|
|I have 3 jobs, a retired spouse, and claim S-0 on all of my pay. Since my spouse gets an enormous social security check every month, we still had to pay, because 85% of it is taxable. Since he presumably paid tax on a least 1/2 of it when he was working, we feel ripped off. Furthermore, we're not even eligible for the rebate. I can't afford to work and I can't afford to retire!|
|I'd like to tell the Inferior Revenue Suckers to take a flying leap.|
|I plan to make my retirement money the old fashioned way...Inherit it.|
|It's time to go to a federal sales tax and do awawy with the income tax.|
|If you keep taking all of my hard-earned money, YOU'RE going to have to take care of me in retirement! And since you have managed to run social security into the ground, you sure have a lot of work to do to figure out how!|
|Simplify the income tax!|
|Why can't you simplify the whole tax return process?|
|When are you going to do something about gas prices? It's getting to the point where I can't afford to drive to work which means I can't afford to save which means I won't be able to retire. And what about this mess you have made with the economy?|
|Don't spend that tax money I sent you all in one place|
|With corporate executives, Hollywood movie personnel and professional athletes being paid hundreds of millions of dollars regardless of how they perform, and the rest of the population hounded by "our government" through marital penalties, creeping AMT and the dissolution of safety net social programs, you had better start looking at what you are doing to cause the erosion of the middle class. If you don't, you may wake up one day and find you have no middle class and instead a class revolt.|
|There is no excuse for these forms. Even with Turbo Tax if you have anything slightly out of the ordinary it is hard to sort through what you need to include, how/where to include it and what to send where when you're done. Flat tax please - you don't really get full credit for deductions anyway.|
|UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE; should be means-tested and available to ALL, without consideration of health status.|
|The AMT is evil and unfair!|
|As long as this survey is confidential, I'd say "Get a real job!"|
|I turned my taxes over to my CPA, but haven't received word that they were filed. I'm not sure if I owe them or they owe me. I usually get a refund--sometimes small--but a refund is a refund.|
|I have many things to say, but they aren't listening so I won't waste my breath.|
|why does Congress have better retirement and health benefits then the people who elected them?|
|I really think I should get more back. There must be an error in their calculations.|
|Could you possibly make the tax code more confusing? As it is, I only had 3 "fits" while completing the forms.....sarcasm should be noted here.....|
|@#$!***^%(breath)&^)&!@#$+_)* and your little dog too.|
|Actually, it is the state that is taking us to the cleaners. I seem to be able to get to owing the IRS $100 or less, but the state goes up each year. Ouch!|
|Extend the tax cuts put into place by President Bush. I don't care about credits for window or buying hybrid cars; they aren't enough to make a real difference anyway. But don't tax me unfairly because I am married. And make the alternative minimum tax affect the really rich if we must have it at all. I'd rather see some loopholes disappear as a way to deal with people paying a fair amount of tax relative to their income but tax me more because I decided to get married, a hard enough decision as it is.|
|Eliminate the Pork and get out of Iraq.|