Struggle to Keep Up Trumps Retirement Savings Worry

For the first time since 2004, respondents to the Mercer Workplace Survey said they are more worried about keeping up with monthly expenses than saving for retirement.

Although retirement was the number one savings objective for seven in 10 respondents, only 15% said saving for retirement is their biggest financial worry, compared to 21% who designated the struggle just to keep up with their monthly expenses as the top worry, Mercer said in a news release. However, respondents still said they have responsibility for funding their own retirement, but indicated they look more to their employers and 401(k) plan administrators for help with retirement savings strategies.

The need to focus on near-term finances is affecting the retirement confidence of respondents. Six in ten indicated they expect to work at least part time in retirement and four in ten expect to reduce their standard of living in retirement, the news release said. In addition, concerns about health care costs continue to contribute to a sense of financial uncertainty.

When asked what they would do differently in the past year of their retirement savings and investing life, almost half (48%) said they wished they had saved more pay in their 401(k). Four in ten indicated they would have increased their contributions to the tax-deferred maximum and nearly one third said they would have paid closer attention to their accounts, both significant increases compared to previous year survey results.

Respondents ranked “employers” and “the company that administers my 401(k)’ as their top two sources of information on investing, ahead of independent research, friends and family, newspapers, and magazines.

Additionally, the survey found 53% of participants indicated they would be absolutely certain/very likely to increase the amount they contribute to their retirement account in the next 12 months if their employers increased company match contributions. Forty-nine percent said they would do so if they received a boost in income, and 35% indicated they would increase their contributions if their current health care expenses were lower.

“We see a significant opportunity for employers and plan administrators to help their employees save more for retirement in truly meaningful ways,’ said Jeff Miller, President of Mercer’s outsourcing business, in the news release. “Employers and administrators should not only enhance and simplify their plan design, but they need to respond to the issues identified by participants through integrated education campaigns and decision support tools that address the full spectrum of retirement savings concerns, including paying for health care and providing for income in retirement, to keep participants actively engaged in achieving their retirement goals.’