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Many Americans Fear They’ll Never Be Able to Retire [AUDIO]

Middle class Americans are beyond worried when it comes to their retirement prospects.

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A new Wells Fargo report shows almost four-in-10 (37 percent) say they will never retire because they believe they’ll have to work until they’re too sick or they die.

“That’s a staggering number and I think a lot of this comes down to lack of information and lack of proper planning,” says Kyle Young, Wells Fargo first vice president/investment officer. “Expenses go up. There’s a limited and a finite number of dollars that come into the household and the reality is tough choices need to be made.”

More than half the middle class (59 percent) say their top day-to-day financial concern is ‘paying the monthly bills,’ an increase from 52 percent in 2012. Saving for retirement ranks a distant second. Only 13 percent call that a ‘priority.’ Four in ten middle class Americans (42 percent) say saving and paying the bills is ‘not possible.’

A staggering 48 percent aren’t confident they will be able to save enough for a comfortable retirement, and 34 percent of the middle class say they’ll work until they are ‘at least 80′ because they will not have saved enough for retirement, up from 25 percent in 2011 and 30 percent in 2012.

Thirty-one percent of Americans in prime retirement saving years (40 to 59) say they have a written retirement plan, versus 69 percent who don’t. Both groups in this age range say they will need a median nest egg of $200,000 for their retirement, but people who have a written plan say they have saved a median of $63,000, or 32 percent of their goal. Those without a written plan have only saved a median of $20,000, or 10 percent of their goal.

“These numbers I think are probably magnified largely for a New Jersey specific population based on a higher cost of living,” explains Young. “In New Jersey expenses tend to be much higher than the average household across the country.”

Forty-five percent middle class Americans without a written plan for retirement say it’s because they have ‘so few financial assets.’

According to a June 2013 U.S. Census report, the median household income is $52,100. Having more income doesn’t necessarily translate to having saved more as a percentage of their overall retirement goal. The middle class has saved between 5 percent and 8 percent of their overall savings goal, regardless of their income.

What keeps the middle class awake at night?

Forty percent say ‘a large unexpected healthcare expense’ is their greatest fear in retirement. Thirty-seven percent 37% say the ‘loss or diminishment of Social Security’ is their biggest financial worry. This fear is heightened for women, almost half of whom (46 percent) say their number one financial fear in retirement is a loss or diminishment of Social Security.

The country’s 30-somethings seem to have the most realistic overall outlook for retirement. People in their 30s who have access to a 401(k) or equivalent plan are currently saving a median of 6 percent of their income, 1 percentage point more than those in their 20s and 40s, and they estimate needing a median of $500,000 for retirement, the highest estimate of all the age groups surveyed.


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