While few people enjoy reviewing their retirement plan, it's not the most dreaded task someone can undertake.
But apparently it's getting close.
More than a third of people — 37% — would rather wait in line at the DMV than review their retirement plan, according to a recent Voya Financial study. In addition, an amazing 80% of people said they had not taken the time to review or revise their retirement plan within the last twelve months.
"Americans who hate reviewing their retirement do so, because it's a reminder of their failure to consistently contribute over the years and ultimately achieve a solid, sizable nest egg," said Andy Bush, a financial advisor with Horizon Wealth Management. "What is sad is that many people actually need to be coached and encouraged when it comes to reviewing retirement planning progress. It's easy to focus on the negative part, rather than the positive progress."
Bush said he believes part of the problem is many Americans just don't understand what they are investing in and how retirement works.
"So they stick their head in the sand…they avoid it like the plague," Bush said. "At least when you wait at the DMV, you know what you are waiting for…as painful as the wait may be."
Robert Johnson, president and CEO of The American College of Financial Services, agreed the stats are not surprising — it simply being a case of "out of sight, out of mind."
"It is painful for most Americans to think about the financial ramifications of retirement because they are so unprepared," Johnson said.
Johnson said a natural defense of many people is to simply ignore things that make them uneasy or cause them pain — and retirement income planning is at the top of the list when it comes to things that make people uneasy.
"The retirement income crisis in the US is arguably the biggest financial crisis facing the U.S. today," he said. "56% of Americans have saved less than $1,000 for retirement. In 2013, the median retirement savings for a head of household between 55 and 64 — those approaching retirement — is $104,000."
He adds the crisis of retirement savings gets even worse when both demographic and capital market headwinds are added into the equation.
"Demographics are about longevity," Johnson said. "Longevity is increasing — people are living longer." He pointed out that by 2030, the number of Americans age 65 or older will surpass the number of children under 15 years old — putting even greater pressure on Social Security.
While not addressing the issue is the easiest way to deal with retirement, the best way to handle the issue is to just start, according to Jim Poolman, executive director of the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council and former North Dakota's Insurance Commissioner. Poolman said use the simple three-step process of knowing what you will need, setting a budget and then diversifying.
"Calm the fear of the unknown by knowing what your end goal is," he said. "Take into account the lifestyle you want to have in retirement as well as basic necessities and health care costs."
Poolman then said a person must figure out what type of retirement he wants and set a plan to save toward that each and every month. Finally, a person needs to create balance in his retirement savings, he adds.
"Look for diversity of products to create balance and help ensure you reach your goals." Poolman said. "Check whether your employer offers savings options like a 401(k) and if they're willing to match it. Plus, any money you get from your employer match could be considered free money. At first you might want that extra money in your paycheck, but saving it will add up."
Those steps could help lead people to look forward to talks with their advisor more than waiting in line to register their car.