Holiday shopping is well underway, but older Americans in particular probably are spending less this year. In a recent AARP survey of the 1,000 workers ages 50 to 70, 67% indicated that stock market losses over the past two years have had a dampening impact on their lifestyles. Seventy-seven percent said theyve suffered stock losses since 2000, with one-fourth reporting asset declines of 25% to 50%. Another 9% said theyve lost more than half of their savings. The stock drop also has affected IRA accounts, which 21% of retirees own, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). EBRI finds IRA assets fell more than $140 billion since their 1999 peak. With the bear market stealing their nest eggs, 59% of older workers told AARP they now budget more carefully, 34% take fewer vacations and 30% have postponed making a major purchase. "These dramatic findings reinforce our view that we need stronger investor and pension protections, as well as better financial education," says David Certner, AARP director of federal affairs.
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