Debt Impeding Retirement Savings

A new survey found that 43% of non-retirees said debt affects their ability to save for a comfortable retirement “a great deal,″ while 32% of non-retirees said debt forced them to cut back their retirement savings.

A Securian Retirement news release about the survey reported that more than half of retirees (52%) acknowledged they were in debt when they retired. Those with the heaviest debt loads were also the most likely to pronounce themselves financially insecure.

According to the news release, more than half of retirees surveyed retired with non-mortgage debt, and 23% said their debt equaled or surpassed their savings and investments at retirement. Twenty-six percent of Boomers and 33% of Silents (born 1925-1945) expected to carry non-mortgage debt into retirement.

Respondents indicated their top two financial goals are paying off debt and saving for retirement (or, for retirees, ensuring a comfortable retirement for the rest of their lives). While seven in 10 respondents said disposing of debt is a high priority, only four in 10 actually paid down more debt than they added during a 12-month period.

“It’s understood that Americans have debt, but what’s surprising is the impact of debt on their ability to prepare financially for retirement,” said Kerry Geurkink, director, Annuity Marketing for Securian Retirement, in the release. “Finding the right balance between today’s living and tomorrow’s security becomes more challenging when consumers either don’t acknowledge or simply don’t understand the extent of their debt.”

“Debt – The Blind Spot on America’s Road to Retirement’ is a multigenerational study conducted for Securian by Washington D.C.-based Mathew Greenwald & Associates. Respondents came from Generations X and Y, plus Baby Boomers and members of the Silent Generation and included more than 2,000 working and retired Americans.