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Retirees Lack Long-Term Financial Confidence: Survey

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Retirees are still paying off debt and relying heavily on Social Security, according to a survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, and while they’re managing at the moment, their confidence long term is not high.

According to A Precarious Existence: How Today’s Retirees Are Financially Faring in Retirement, only 46% of retirees agree that their nest egg is large enough; just 16% strongly agree while 30% “somewhat” agree with that statement.

It’s not that they don’t enjoy being retired, even though 56% of them ended up retired sooner than they planned (average age 63) and just 11% retired early because they were financially able to do so. But that doesn’t mean they’re blind to the financial realities of their situation.

Although it may have been the job that drove them out of the workplace — 54% pointed to employment-related reasons for early retirement, including job loss, organizational changes, general unhappiness, and/or an incentive or buyout — or health woes/family reasons (47% cited these), they’re making the most of it, with 61% spending more time with family and friends, 44% pursuing hobbies and 39% traveling.

But 66% say that Social Security will be their primary source of income during retirement, and many are getting by on pretty small incomes: Their estimated median household income is just $32,000, with 25% having a household income of less than $25,000. Just 15% have an income of $100,000 or more. Among all households, the real median income in 2017 was $61,000, according to the Census Bureau.

Lots of retirees are in debt. Forty-five percent have non-mortgage debt, including credit cards, car loans, student loans and medical debt, at a median level of $4,000. And 28% have mortgage debt, whether that’s an actual mortgage or home equity loans or lines of credit; the estimated median for them is $28,000.

And they don’t have a whole lot saved. Estimated median household savings, including retirement savings but excluding home equity, only totals $75,000; 31% have savings of less than $50,000, including 9% who have no savings at all. Just 38% have savings of $100,000 or more.

Oh, and that home equity? At an estimated median of $79,000, it’s not enough to save them in case of a financial emergency like the need for long-term care; while 41% have home equity of $100,000 or more, 22% have no home equity at all.

The online survey was conducted between July 6 and 31 among a nationally representative sample of 2,043 retirees 50 or older.

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