Recent retirees are generally content with their
lives, despite persistent concerns about their income, health and the
future of Social Security benefits, according to a new survey.
The survey by Putnam Investments found that 85% of recently retired workers are generally satisfied with their retirements, yet at the same time found an undercurrent of unease.
For example, 41% of respondents are very concerned that they might outlive their retirement savings. A third of the retirees say the longer they are retired, the harder it gets. Also, 60% say they regret not saving for retirement earlier in their careers.
Only 16% of those surveyed had a financial plan going into retirement. Of those with a net worth of $500,000 or more, 54% used a financial advisor to plan their retirements. Only 16% of those with $150,000 or less in assets did the same.
While many retirees say they hope they will need Social Security benefits only to supplement the income drawn off their retirement savings, the opposite is holding true. The survey found that Social Security represents 41% of the income of those surveyed. Traditional pensions provided 24% of income, and self-directed plans and other types of savings accounted for only 11% of their income.
"People working today expect to retire on their own savings first and use Social Security for a backup if it's still there," says Richard A. Monaghan, head of Putnam Retail Management. "But recent retirees are telling today's workers they may be headed for a major disappointment if they haven't been effective savers and investors."
The survey found a correlation between health and income. Respondents who say their health is poor, for example, had an average household income of $28,000. Those stating they are in excellent health have an average income of $65,000.
Their top worries are having a secure retirement income and not worrying too much about money.
Their biggest surprise, ironically, is having insufficient funds and high expenses; 21% of the retirees say they are having difficulty making ends meet.
Authors of the study say the results indicate people are ignoring warnings that they need to save often and early in their careers.
"We need to develop new, creative ways to help younger workers talk about and learn about money in a manner that leads to maximizing their long-term financial strategies," says Richard Geist, a psychologist who acted as a consultant for the study and president of the Institute of Psychology and Investing.
The nationwide survey, conducted in August, consisted of responses from 1,982 retirees.