Investors spend more time choosing a restaurant than their investments

While retirement may last longer than a nice dinner, a survey by TIAA-CREF finds that Americans often spend more time picking a restaurant than their investments.

Fifteen percent spend two hours or more planning an investment for their individual retirement account (IRA), which was less than those who chose a restaurant for a special occasion (25%), bought a flat-screen TV (21%) or purchased a tablet (16%).

The survey reveals that the number of Americans who would consider an IRA as part of their retirement strategy has fallen sharply since 2013. Fewer than half (47%) of those not contributing say they would consider an IRA, down from 57% in 2013.

It is possible that a lack of understanding is responsible for low IRA contribution levels. More than one-third (35%) of respondents don’t understand what an IRA is or the difference between an IRA and an employer-sponsored plan. This percentage is even higher among generation Y (45%).

Even among those who already have an IRA, more than half (55%) said they spent an hour or less planning for the investment.

Sixty percent of those who are contributing to an IRA also have an employer-sponsored plan. Among those with both plans, more than half (53%) say they contribute to their IRA regardless of whether they have reached the contribution or matching limit of their employer-sponsored plan. This means they could be leaving money on the table if they are diverting money to their IRA before contributing enough to get their employer match.

“Retirement planning can feel confusing and even overwhelming, but individuals should feel empowered to take charge of their financial future,” says Doug Chittenden, executive vice-president, individual business, at TIAA-CREF. “Employers that sponsor retirement plans also play a critical role in helping educate employees about their retirement options.”

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