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4 in 10 Americans Worry About Running Out of Money in Retirement

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Though credit scores improved and personal savings increased during the coronavirus pandemic, Americans are worried about having a big enough nest egg for retirement.

A new survey from Kansas City, Mo.-based American Century Investments looks at Americans’ worries, regrets and expectations about retirement savings — and the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

The survey finds that 40% fret about running out of money in retirement, while 60% say they saved less than they should’ve in their first five working years.

Retirement concerns — and the value of benefits

Besides running out of money, here are the other retirement concerns from respondents:

  • Losing income (18%)
  • Not being able to afford medical expenses (18%)
  • Being bored (13%)
  • Losing structure (6%)
  • Missing coworkers (4%)
  • Something else (2%)

Among respondents, 90% at least somewhat agree that retirement plans are a benefit with high value. Those most inclined to strongly agree are men, those with household incomes of at least $100,000 and those with assets of at least $500,000.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of respondents say they prefer an employer match on their retirement plan over a salary increase. By generation, 80% of baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), 69% of Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1979) and 59% of millennials (born between 1980 and 1994) express this. Also, men are 6% more likely to prefer this than women.

How an employer match stacks up against help with education: 82% would choose the employer match, 12% would select education help and 6% have no preference.

Not saving more for retirement tops Americans’ list of regrets

Not stashing enough for retirement is life’s biggest regret for 35% of respondents. Other “coulda, shoulda” areas include:

  • Not doing better in their career (14%)
  • Wishing they had better personal relationships (14%)
  • Not enjoying life more (14%)
  • Not being a better person (6%)
  • Other (3%)

Interestingly, 14% of respondents say they had no regrets.

By household income, those who make at least $100,000 a year report having more savings regret and wish they spent more time stepping back and enjoying life.

Paying off debt

Paying off debt is not as high a priority as before the pandemic, though men focus on it more than women. And households with incomes of less than $100,000 make paying off long-term credit card debt more of a priority than their counterparts who earn more.

If you’re struggling to keep up with debt payments, start by finding ways to lower your living expenses to potentially free up cash. You can also look for ways to earn more, whether taking on a side gig or earning cash back for your shopping.

Debt consolidation could also be an option. When you consolidate your debt, you can roll multiple loans into one. You might also land a lower interest rate, which could help you save on interest and lower how much you pay each month.

Methodology: Market research firm Mathew Greenwald & Associates fielded a survey for American Century Investments between March 8-9, 2021, of 1,500 full-time workers ages 25 to 65.