Most Americans save 10% or less of their income during their working years, yet 37% plan to retire before age 65, according to a 2014 survey by TIAA-CREF, a financial services provider.
Twenty percent of respondents who haven’t retired reported not putting away anything for retirement, and 44% reported saving 10% or less of their current annual income—a figure that includes their own savings and any employer contributions. For many survey respondents, this low rate of savings doesn’t match their stated retirement goals. (Most experts agree that savings rates should be at least 10% to 15% of income annually.)
Additionally, 53% of survey respondents plan to use withdrawals from their retirement savings as one of their sources of monthly income. Only 21% plan to receive retirement income from annuities.
“Far too many people believe they will be able to live in retirement by just drawing down their savings,” says Teresa Hassara, executive vice-president of TIAA-CREF’s institutional business. “But as people live longer and healthcare costs increase, this approach leaves people at risk of outliving their savings. Every withdrawal decreases the pool of assets needed to weather down markets, and rising inflation can make it necessary to draw more income than expected.”
Survey participants also underestimated how much money they will need in retirement. One-third of respondents who haven’t retired believe they will need just 25% to 50% of pre-retirement income to maintain their current standard of living, and another third believe they will need 50% to 75%. This perception is at odds with industry experts’ recommendation—which is that most people will need 70% to 90% of pre-retirement income to maintain the same standard of living during their golden years. Only 21% of those surveyed who haven’t retired believe they will need more than 75% of pre-retirement income to live comfortably in retirement.
The survey interviewed more than 1,000 adults in the U.S.