Retirement might be years away for you, but you have this persistent nagging feeling inside. You might even be comparing your financial situation to specific friends, coworkers, or peers around you. You observe that you are the less financially prepared for your retirement than the others. You are not as relaxed about retirement; in fact, you are downright worried and ill prepared for this stage in your life.
The self-deprecating thoughts in your head might be chanting, “Just like the highly educated Mr. Jones over there with a very successful career and a fantastic financial plan, I could have, I would have, I should have…” I could have strived for a better job with a higher pay. If I had known foreseen tough times later on, I would have started saving for my retirement earlier. I should have contributed more money to my 401’k through the years. Stop with this negative self-talk. Don’t feel like you are alone on your own island of retirement worry. Although individuals around you might not voice any concern about their financial security in these “Golden Years”, new studies indicate that many Americans also feel insecure about their own retirement.
Despite a slow economic recovery, worries about retirement still exist today among Americans. A strong correlation exists between retirement concern and education/income levels. These retirement worries appear to be greater among those individuals with less education and a low income. On the other hand, the more educated higher paid individuals experience less worry about these retirement years. A strong correlation also holds true for retirement concerns among certain age groups. Contrary to previous years, new research indicates that the baby boomers and those individuals closer to retirement are not the most concerned about their retirement security. Instead, the younger and middle aged adults win the award for the age group most concerned about these retirement years.
So, why is retirement stress so prevalent in the younger generation now? According the Pew Research Center, a recent analysis of Federal Reserve data reveals that the reason “retirement concerns have surged among adults in their late 30s and early 40s is that the average wealth of this group has fallen at a far greater rate than for any other age group over the past 10 years.” Furthermore, this analysis suggests that the dwindling wealth among individuals in their 30s and 40s is due to this age group’s inability to benefit from recovering stock prices since the recession. Much of this age group abandoned the stock market entirely during the recession, and remained out of the market as prices began to increase.
With this awareness that many other Americans also worry about retirement, what can you do with it? Well, first of all, share your concerns with a financial advisor/planner if you don’t already have one. It is never too late to modify a spending/saving behavior, make a difference in your retirement future, and what better way to be guided through the retirement planning process than by an expert. Second of all, find solace in the fact that you are not the only person with retirement worries. Despite a slowly improving economy, many other Americans also share your concerns about your retirement especially now. Lastly, focus on yourself, and not on other people’s retirement situations around you. Stop negatively comparing yourself to others, and beating yourself up for not being as prepared as you want to be for this stage of life. You can drain so much of your energy out on negative thoughts about comparing yourself to others that you have no energy left to better yourself and proactively plan for a better retirement future. So, it’s time to focus on you now.
Brooks, Chad. “Retirement Concerns Plague Americans.” BusinessNewsDaily. 22 October 2012. <http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/3306-retirement-concerns-plague-americans.html>
Wayne von Borstel, CLU, ChFC, CFP®, MSFS
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing.