Americans Would Rather Take a Vacation Than Save for Retirement

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Americans are seizing the day but sacrificing tomorrow. In what may the bleakest picture painted yet of retirement readiness, a Wells Fargo survey of middle class respondents reveals many are not making retirement savings a priority – and facing perhaps drastic consequences.

Nearly half (48%) of middle-class Americans in their 50s say they won’t have enough money to “survive” on in retirement – and yet 41% are still not saving for the future. Those surveyed had a median household income of $63,000.

It’s often said that the thought of running out of money in retirement is Americans’ greatest fear, and one-quarter of those surveyed admitted they “get depressed” thinking about what their financial situation will be like during life after work. It’s even worse for respondents in their 40s and 50s – one-third of which have a dreary outlook for retirement.

Shockingly, 22% said they would rather “die early” than not have enough money to live comfortably in retirement.


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Inexplicably, that fear is not motivating action. Only 38% said that they would forgo a vacation in order to save more for retirement. But there are some cuts the middle class is willing to make “tomorrow.” More than half (56%) said they would partake in fewer indulgences such as spa treatments or jewelry. A nearly equal number (55%) were agreeable to eating out “less often,” and 51% said they would put off a major purchase, such as a car or home renovation.

Believing they’ll need about $250,000 to fund their retirement, middle class Americans have saved only a median of $20,000. That breaks down to a nest egg of $40,000 for respondents in their 40s, $20,000 for those in their 50s and $25,000 for those in the age range of 60 to 75. Survey respondents between the ages of 30 and 49 said they were saving a median amount of $200 each month – but those between the ages of 50 and 59 are setting aside only $78 each month for retirement.

And 80 seems to be the new 65. One-third of all the middle class participants surveyed said they would need to work until they were “at least 80 years old” to cover their financial shortfall; that belief grows to half of the respondents in their 50s. One-quarter of all middle class households taking the poll said they would work into their 80s – even if it wasn’t a financial necessity.

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet

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