Dying Penniless: American’s #1 Concern
What’s the number one financial concern Americans are worried about? For more than a decade, the answer has been the same: Not having enough money for retirement, according to Gallup’s annual Economy and Personal Finance poll.
“Retirement may be a time that many working adults look forward to, but it is paradoxically a source of stress in the here and now,” Gallup says of its latest poll results. “A strong majority of Americans, particularly those aged 30 to 64, worry about having enough money for retirement, and this concern has regularly topped the list of Americans’ top financial problems.”
Nearly six out of 10 (59%) people surveyed reported being “very” or “moderately” concerned about retirement savings, the latest poll found, and a majority of Americans have had the same worry each year since 2001.
Retirement savings beat out eight other financial concerns, including ability to pay medical costs in the event of a serious illness or accident (53% of Americans) and not being able to maintain the standard of living they currently enjoy (48%).
Together, those three financial concerns have typically topped the list of items Gallup has been tracking annually since 2001.
The good news, however, is that concerns about retirement savings, ability to maintain living standards, and ability to afford unexpected medical costs have decreased somewhat from two years ago. But many Americans don’t feel they’re out of the woods yet, as worries related to these financial issues remain elevated from pre-Great Recession levels.
Where you are in life often impacts your level of personal financial concerns, which vary “significantly” across age groups, Gallup says.
Middle-aged Americans—defined by Gallup as those between the ages of 30 and 64—are the most worried about not having enough money for retirement, at about 70%.
On the bright side, older Americans aged 65 or older tend to have fewer retirement savings concerns. Most in this age demographic appear to have retirement financing under control, Gallup finds, as only 37% worry about having enough money for retirement—”by far” the lowest percentage of any age group.
Still, older Americans have other top concerns, such as whether they’ll be able to pay for unexpected medical costs (43%) or maintain the standard of living they currently enjoy (41%).
Longevity is a key factor that plays into concerns about outliving retirement resources. Americans now have an average life expectancy of 78.7 years, and adequately saving for retirement has become a national concern. During his most recent State of the Union address, President Barack Obama proposed a retirement savings “starter” account for working adults called “myRA,” essentially a safe, simple way to set aside earnings for retirement.
Whether or not myRAs will catch on, saving for retirement and being confident you’ll have enough to maintain your current standard of living is likely something you’ve thought about.
If you’re in the process of planning for retirement or approaching retirement age, try our online Retirement Calculator. This automated, online retirement planning tool can help you assess things like if your savings will match your lifespan and if you’ll be able to afford health care expenses.
If you’re worried about not having enough money during retirement, get matched to a prescreened certified retirement advisor today.