Some retirees spend like there's no tomorrow-even though their golden years can last two decades or more. Wachovia's fourth annual Retirement Survey report found that 28% of surveyed retirees withdraw 10% or more of their retirement savings annually to pay for expenses. People who report this withdrawal rate have average savings of $375,000.
More than one-third (38%) pegged their withdrawal rate at 5% or less. Only about half (47%) say they have a written withdrawal strategy, and only 28% said they have a written budget for spending their savings.
"When you retire, you have to make your savings last until the end of your life, and the way to do this is to create a proactive plan for the money you've earned," said Lynne Ford, director of Wachovia's Retail Retirement Group. "You can't spend as large a chunk of your savings annually as we're seeing in this data."
Richard Day Research of Evanston, Ill., conducted 2,100 online interviews for Wachovia with respondents between the ages of 55 and 70 and with household assets of $75,000 or more, excluding real estate holdings.
The study also found that the majority of respondents report taking Social Security at age 62. Another 17% report taking Social Security benefits at age 65. Only 9% report delaying Social Security benefits past age 65.
Despite the lack of planning, 84% of retirees surveyed characterize themselves as "not distressed" in relation to managing their finances in retirement. Among younger retirees-those between the ages of 55 and 59 with less than $250,000 in assets-75% describe themselves as "not distressed."
In that vein, 91% said they feel "confident" or "very confident" that they have enough savings to last in retirement, while 52% said life in retirement is "better than expected" and 37% say it is about "as expected."