(iStock)

Slightly more than half, or 52 percent, of savers feel like they might actually have enough money to live comfortably in retirement.

That’s not a striking vote of confidence. But it’s an improvement from last year, when 47 percent of people surveyed said they thought they would have enough income in retirement, according to a study released Tuesday by Spectrem Group, a market research firm specializing in retirement and investing.

People are generally feeling better about their finances — including retirement — as they watch the unemployment rate drop, the stock market climb and the economy generally improve, says George Walper, president of Spectrem Group. Many people are seeing their 401(k) balances increase, which can make them feel more prepared overall, he says.

Savers still had plenty to worry about, however, especially when it came to retirement. Savers concerned about running out of money cited health-care costs as their No. 1 fear, more than spending too much or losing savings to high tax bills.


(Spectrem Group)

The findings show that people are worried about how expenses that are difficult to predict, such as health care, might hurt their finances, Walper said. But two of the biggest factors affecting their retirement readiness — how much people spend and save — are very much in their control, he says.

Indeed, a separate report on retirement readiness from the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that people’s confidence levels were directly related to whether they were saving.

Workers who had an Individual Retirement Account or were participating in a retirement plan through their job were more than twice as likely to be “very confident” of their chances of having enough money in retirement than those without a plan. (Confidence jumped to 28 percent for those with a retirement plan from 12 percent from those without one, according to the institute.)

Of course, some people want to save more for retirement but feel they can’t afford to. About 50 percent of workers said they weren’t saving more because they were struggling to keep up with day-to-day expenses, according to the institute.

The good news is that many of the people with dismal views about retirement have some time before they need to start freaking out. About two-thirds of the savers surveyed by Spectrem were 10 years or more from retirement.

Most people feel like they can spare to save a little more, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. About 70 percent of workers said they could probably save about $25 more a week than they are currently saving for retirement.

Even those small steps can add up, financial advisers say. People who aren’t saving as much as they want to can consider signing up for auto-escalation, which increases the contribution rates to their retirement accounts by one or two percentage points each year.

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