Plan Participants Show High Level of Concern about Personal Finances


Spectrem Group’s report Attitudes of Retirement Plan Participants shows that plan participants have a high level of concern about their personal finances. Looking at it from the other point of view, their perspective on their personal finances is not overwhelmingly positive.

Forty-two percent of all participants said they were not saving enough in preparation for retirement, showing that there is a balancing act between acquiring debt in one hand and saving funds in the other.

When asked to say “yes’’ or “no’’ to the sentence “My financial situation today is better than it was one year ago”, only 60 percent of all plan participants said “yes.” Males were more confident than females, and the most positive group was the plan participants over the age of 50.

A similar statement – “I expect my financial situation will be stronger one year from now than at present” – produced only 59 percent of “yes’’ responses. Interestingly, the most optimistic segment was the youngest plan participants, with 68 percent agreeing to the statement.

In the study, plan participants were asked to rate their wealth status on a 0-to-100 scale, with “0’’ representing less wealthy and “100’’ representing more wealthy. The total group saw themselves in the middle of the pack, at 50.38, but agreed that their parents (46.76) and their spouse’s parents (40.84) were less wealthy.

Every plan participant was asked to select their concerns over personal financial issues, and the concern most often selected was “maintaining my current financial position’’, tabbed by 71 percent of plan participants. Others that were selected by more than half of all plan participants was “being able to retire when I want to” (64 percent), “the health of my spouse” (60 percent), “my own health” (57 percent), “spending my final years in a care facility” (55 percent), “family health catastrophe” (53 percent), “having someone to care for me in my old age” (51 percent), “the financial situation of my children or grandchildren” (51 percent) and “responsibility for aging parents” (51 percent).

For example, when asked “Do you fully expect to have sufficient income to live comfortably in retirement?” only 47 percent of plan participants said “Yes.” Looking at plan participants based on age, the highest percentages of “yes’’ voters were among the youngest (35 and younger) and the oldest (65 and above) and each of those was only at 54 percent. Only 46 percent of investors 50-64 years of age agreed with the statement and only 45 percent of those 35 to 49 think they are set for retirement.

As will be seen in almost every category, males are more optimistic than females, and in the case of having sufficient income for a comfortable retirement, 55 percent of men said they had it and only 42 percent of women said so.

There is not a significant amount of concern over debt amounts. Overall, 32 percent said they were concerned about the amount of debt their household currently has, and that number rose to 38 percent of plan participants 35 years of age and younger. It was 37 percent for participants 50-to-64, and 36 percent among females, who tend to be more pessimistic about finances.



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