The traditional retirement age of 65 is a thing of the past, according to a new survey from Wells Fargo. Many Americans say they intend to work well into their retirement years, and a quarter say they won't have enough money saved to retire comfortably until they're 80, if ever. Three quarters of the 1,500 middle-class Americans surveyed said the amount you have squirreled away — not your age — should determine when you slow down. Meanwhile, just 20 percent said you should pick an age and quit then, no matter how much money you have. What does this survey say about how Americans will spend their Golden Years? Here, four takeaways:
1. Many people don't want to retire
Not everyone who plans to work into retirement is doing it just to pay their bills. Thirty-five percent of those surveyed said they'll keep working because they want to. But some in this group still plan to slow down a bit — 42 percent say they'll look for something with "less responsibility."
2. Americans are bad at saving
The average person has set aside just 7 percent of his hoped-for retirement savings — a median of just $25,000 versus a desired goal of $350,000, according to the survey. Three in 10 people in their 60s have less than $25,000, suggesting they'll have no choice but to live on Social Security. One rule of thumb suggests that to retire worry-free, you'll need a nest egg of 10 times your final salary.
3. And they worry about relying on Social Security
The Social Security system is facing an uncertain future, with baby boomers retiring and not enough money being paid into the system to cover all future benefits. Americans are factoring that into their expectations. Survey respondents in their sixties are counting on Social Security to provide 60 percent of their retirement income, while those in their fifties are banking on only 36 percent. That might be why younger people have fewer objections than their elders to cutting benefits to put the system on better financial footing.
4. We've lost our pie-in-the-sky attitude
The recession has left us rattled, making pessimism rampant. In a Yahoo! Finance survey, 41 percent of respondents ages 18 to 64 said the American Dream is "out of reach." Thirty-seven percent said they had no retirement savings at all. Fewer than half had saved anything to pay for college for their kids.
Sources: ABC News, Financial, LA Times (2), Motley Fool, Wells Fargo
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 5 legitimate scientific controversies
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 10 things you need to know today: October 2, 2014
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Libertarianism's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea
- How liberals are unwittingly paving the way for the legalization of adult incest
- Ted Cruz is the new Sarah Palin
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Stop your unpatriotic fearmongering over ISIS
- How to improve your workplace culture
Subscribe to the Week