NU Online News Service, March 29, 2005, 4:15 p.m. EST

When baby boomers get older, they may wish they had built bigger nest eggs.[@@]

Researchers at Oppenheimer Funds Inc., New York, a unit of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Springfield, Mass., have published data supporting that conclusion in a report on a fall 2004 survey of 600 U.S. workers between the ages of 45 and 75 and 401 U.S. retirees in that age group.

Each of the survey participants had annual household incomes of at least $75,000 or household savings and investments of at least $300,000. The asset total did not include the value of participants’ homes.

Almost 70% of the retirees said they now spend at least as much as they spent when they were working, and 98% said they had regrets about pre-retirement spending, according to OppenheimerFunds researchers.

OppenheimerFunds and its research firm, Mathew Greenwald & Associates, Washington, also divided the working survey participants into 4 categories: 21% were “Smooth Sailors,” or people who are optimistic about retirement and have made serious efforts to save, and 27% were “Nervous Nellies,” or people who are worried about retirement despite making serious efforts to save.

Researchers found that 29% of the participants were “Hopeful Idealists” who were unrealistically satisfied with their meager retirement savings, and 23% were “Pensive Procrastinators,” or people who had some idea about just how bleak their prospects for a comfortable retirement might be.

About 22% of the Smooth Sailors have at least $1 million in savings, and those are the survey participants who are most likely to know exactly how much they want to save for retirement or exactly how much income they hope to generate during retirement.

Nervous Nellies, in contrast, are even more likely to have written financial plans, but they have little faith in their investing abilities and are very or somewhat concerned about the possible effects of a stock market slump, according to the OppenheimerFunds researchers.