Some 90% of retirement plan participants in American Century Investments’ recently released fifth annual plan participant study expressed regret about their retirement savings habits.
The number of pre-retirees in the 55-to-65 age group who reported having a great deal of regret rose by 5% in the past two years, the study found.
“Not saving for retirement was cited as the most common personal regret — more than not being a better person or having better personal relationships,” American Century Investments vice president for client marketing Diane Gallagher said in a statement.
“People recognize the importance of saving but lack that general direction or push to get started.”
Washington, D.C.-based Mathew Greenwald and Associates conducted a survey during the third quarter among 1,500 full-time workers between ages 25 and 65 who were participating in their employer’s retirement plan, intended to retire at some point and were not working for the government.
Study participants said the first five years of their working lives was the period of time for which they had the most regret, with more than 90% saying it would be “at least somewhat important to tell their younger selves to save more.”
But 75% acknowledged that their early-career self would be only “somewhat or very likely” to accept that advice.
Participants cited several common barriers to saving: not earning enough, having debts to pay off and incurring unexpected expenses.
Asked to grade how well they did in putting away money for retirement, given their resources and circumstances, study participants gave themselves a ‘C.’
“We continue to see this disconnect in people knowing what they ‘should do’ against what they actually do with respect to saving,” Gallagher said. “Although participants recognize that responsibility and gravity, they still struggle with overcoming inertia to move forward.”
The study results underscored how important employers’ influence on participants saving for retirement is.