Uncertainty about fluctuating interest rates and rapidly spiraling health care costs were cited as the two largest fears of both retirees and pre-retirees, according to a new survey conducted by the Schaumberg, Ill.-based Society of Actuaries.
The survey, which polled 804 adults between 45 and 80 years of age, found that only 3% of retirees and 5% of those closing in on retirement have at least $1 million or more in savings and investments while a 18% and 6%, respectively, have less than $25,000 stashed away.
Regardless of how much or how little the respondents have put away, all agree that the prospect of inflation and the impact it would have on their interest-gaining investments and the escalating cost of health care as they age and live longer are keeping them up at night.
"Given the uncertainties surrounding health care delivery, it is encouraging that virtually all respondents cite pursuing a healthy lifestyle as a primary risk management strategy," the report said. "Although it is not clear for how many this is a reality rather than an ideal."
The bigger problem for retirees who have not properly saved and invested for their retirements is that many are using whatever savings they do have to cover basic expenses -- particularly health care expenditures -- to cover the gap, further eroding the retirement income they could be generating from any number of investment products.
Seventy-one percent of pre-retirees said they were either "very" or "somewhat" concerned about inflation risk compared to 58% of retirees. Among pre-retirees, 58% indicated they were "very" or "somewhat" concerned about depleting their savings while only 47% of current retirees echoed similar fears.
The report mirrors last week's sobering report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute which found that Americans today are less confident about their retirement than anytime in history.
The Society of Actuaries survey discovered that 29% of pre-retirees have already given up on the idea of retirement and said they will be financially unable to stop working.
Of those who still believe they'll have the necessary savings to afford a decent lifestyle in retirement, more than half expect they'll have to wait until the age of 65 to retire. The top reason given for extending their employments was access to employer-sponsored health insurance.
Fifty-nine percent of pre-retirees said they think a three-year delay in retirement will make their retirement finances either a "lot more" or a "little more" secure but, interestingly, 46% of those who have already retired said working for another three years would have made them "no more" financially secure.
The Society of Actuaries report concludes that most people, retired or not, don't do an adequate job of planning ahead and accurately forecasting the costs of their retirement early enough in life.
More than 80% of respondents admitted they do not look more than 20 years ahead when making important financial decisions and only 5% look to or beyond their life expectancy.