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Despite stashing less than they should, Americans feel comfortable with their retirement savings

2 minute read

More money is better when it comes to retirement, right? You would think, but most are comfortable or downright optimistic about knowing they don’t have enough in the bank for retirement.

Only 4 in 10 savers are saving as much as they think is necessary, according to a new study from Lincoln Financial Group. Among the people saving less than they think they need, 68 percent would need to increase their savings by 5 percentage points or more to be on track.

Yet over the past five years, people are growing more confident in their retirement savings. Almost 40 percent of respondents say they feel confident and more than half – 55 percent – are optimistic. That’s up from the 29 percent who reported being confident and 45 percent who said they were optimistic in 2012.

In turn, people have been feeling less anxious about their retirement savings. In 2012, 41 percent said they felt anxious. Now, that number is 30 percent.

Feelings and facts

“It’s good news that retirement savers are feeling more positive about their retirement savings, but there is a real disconnect between their feelings and their actions,” says Jamie Ohl, president of Lincoln Financial Group’s retirement planning services. “The majority of people we surveyed said they did not think they were saving as much as they needed to in order to be on track.”

In a similar study from the group of insurers who make up the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council, 94 percent of those who are planning for retirement grade their efforts with a C or higher, but most are making critical mistakes saving.

Those still in the workforce saving for retirement can learn a lesson from those already in retirement. Close to half of Americans wished they saved more. On top of that, women have a harder time than men saving for retirement, and pay more for retirement health care.

Putting retirement first

Competing priorities take away from those retirement savings accounts, Lincoln Financial Group found. The biggest leech is student loan debt. Six out of 10 people with student loan debt said it is keeping them from saving more for their retirement. A quarter of younger Americans say they’re putting off having children because their student loan debt takes too much of their income.

The more priorities participants named, the less they were contributing to retirement. Only a third of people who named at least eight priorities are tucking away 10 percent of their pay for retirement. Among those who named two or less, more than half are — and 40 percent are putting away even more than that. Making retirement savings a top priority is the only way to make it happen, even if that might mean getting into a more affordable student loan repayment plan or cutting back elsewhere.

“Savers today face many financial pressures and the reality is that the majority of them are going to be responsible for their own retirement,” says Ohl. “As an industry, we have helped people understand the importance of saving. Now, it’s up to us to help them save more so they can achieve the retirement they envision.”

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About the Author

Gregory Cox

Gregory Cox

Cox is a freelance writer for

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