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4 Totally Depressing Things Workers Say About Retirement

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It's not exactly a secret that workers are falling behind on their retirement savings.

A study from Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC - Get Report) shows that about 25% of soon-to-be-retirees will cash out of their career years with less than $250,000 in retirement savings.

The study also shows that many Americans are struggling to meet adequate financial retirement goals, and that struggle is starting to take its toll.

"Too often financial stress and the weight of uncertainty surrounding one's ability to accomplish their goals can cause them to remain inert and unwilling to look truths about their financial future in the eye," says Michael Liersch, director of behavioral finance for Merrill Lynch. "Recognizing that these challenges are in most instances not insurmountable, and admitting to one self that there are behavioral changes that can be made to address them, are simple but critical first steps. From there, even small, positive actions today can have a significant impact on improving near- and longer-term financial wellness."

In that same study of 1,000 U.S. workers, retirement savers spell out some attitudes and observations emerging out of the current retirement savings malaise, including:

Health care costs are taking a toll. Americans are saving less for retirement because they are spending too much money on health care. The Bank of America reports that 80% of U.S. workers say their health care costs have risen, and 56% say they are saving less for retirement as a result.

Workers would sacrifice now for "reliable income" later. The study says that 79% of U.S. workers say they would give up 5% of their income in exchange for a reliable income in retirement, and 38% say they would give up 10% of their annual income for that steady income in retirement.

Employees aren't sacrificing now, though. Despite that, only 20% of employees "max out" on their employee retirement savings accounts to get the most out of their employers offering a 401(k) contribution matching program.

Bonuses are no longer for fun. The survey asks respondents what they would do with a $1,000 bonus from their employer, and 36% said they would use the cash to pay down debt; 26% said they would put it into their retirement savings. Only 8% would blow it on a treat for themselves.

Clearly, Americans are anxious about their retirements -- it's almost like many see the handwriting on the wall and they don't like the message it's sending.

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