Survey: Baby Boomers Fall Short in Retirement Savings

Wednesday, 30 Jan 2013 08:13 AM

By Michelle Smith

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Many older Americans looking forward to retirement may have to delay their plans and downsize their dreams, according to a survey by TD Ameritrade.

For more than a decade the number of people eligible to retire but who continue working has been growing. Some individuals do so by choice, but others appear to continue working because of necessity.

On average, baby boomers retirement savings are $500,000 short, according to the survey results reported by USA Today.

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Failing to save enough for the days ahead is a major problem, but it is not the only reason many baby boomers can't afford to retire. Debt appears to be keeping many in the work force.

According to USA Today, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling calculates that a third of its clients who file for bankruptcy are 50 or older.

Much of the increasing debt load among baby boomers can be attributed to credit cards.

John A.E. Pottow, a law professor at the University of Michigan, reports that seniors have 50 percent more credit card debt than do younger people, according to Debt.org. Moreover, of those 65 or older who filed for bankruptcy in 2007, about 70 percent said their biggest problem was credit card interest and fees.

But it is not only the plastic. Other expenses are weighing on baby boomers finances, such as rising costs of living and healthcare costs.

The National Center for Policy Analysis says that baby boomers are also spending more on education, mortgage and equity loans and adult children than they did 20 years ago.

Instead of retirement being days filled with financial comfort, it is likely more baby boomers will be doing budget acrobatics. It is projected that a growing number will be laden with debt when they leave the work force. And many recognize their income will be limited.

In fact, 74 percent of the TD Ameritrade survey participants expect to be heavily reliant on Social Security, which currently averages about $1,230 a month, according to USA Today.

“We will have to work a lot longer to get by with less,” Olivia Mitchell, professor of economics and executive director of Pension Research Council at Wharton School of Business, tells USA Today.

“It's just getting a lot more expensive to be old than it used to be,” she added.

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