Personal assets are expected to contribute more to retirement income among pre retirees who are still working full time.

Fewer than half of current retirees use personal assets for retirement income. And only retirees who have accumulated an “ideal level of assets” manage to effectively balance wants and income.

These findings, among others, are disclosed in a new study form Hearts & Wallets, “State of Retirement Funding & Household Finances in 2013: Income Sources, Savings, Spending, Debt, Real Estate & Retirement.” Based on a survey of nearly 5,000 U.S. households (3,500 ages 53 and older; 2,000 in retirement) the study examines consumer lifestyle plans, including the age at which people anticipate stopping full-time work, current income, spending and savings for different groups, as well as spending on healthcare, debt and the role of real estate.

“Many Americans view their assets for use only in an emergency rather than as a retirement income source,” says Hearts & Wallets LLC Partner Laura Varas. “It will likely be a long time before most retirees generate substantial portions of their income from personal assets, not because their income source is unreliable, but because people’s lifestyles are so diverse.”

Personal assets are expected to contribute more to retirement income among pre retirees who are still working full time. In 2013, the report states, more households (58 percent) said they plan to use personal assets (notably withdrawals from retirement accounts) for retirement income. Eighty percent of households that have primary breadwinners ages 53 to 64 — a group Hearts & Wallets dubs “late careers” — do not plan to stop working full-time.

The research adds that median late career households have achieved a retirement reachability ratio (RRR) of 55 percent (percentage of goals to assets). Only one in five (21 percent) is at 80 percent or more of their retirement asset goal.

“This suggests many more American households will be, as a recent focus group participant put it, ‘living on the edge’ when taking income from personal assets in the future,” says Varas.

The report adds that post-retirees control in the aggregate $15.1 trillion in investable assets. By age group, the study breaks investable assets down as follow:

  • Ages 75 and older: $4.3 trillion;
  • Ages 65-74: $4.7 trillion;
  • Ages 55-64: $4.8 trillion;
  • Ages 45-54: $0.8 trillion; and
  • Ages 44 and under: $0.5 trillion.