It seems Americans are stressing over retirement – and many are losing sleep over it, according to new surveys.
- One by Ramsey Solutions says 56 percent of Americans are losing sleep over retirement. And that includes both those who are saving and those who aren’t.
- A second survey, from Schwab Retirement Plan Services says that saving enough for retirement is the top source of financial stress, even for millennials.
First, the Ramsey survey. It says that eight in 10 Americans who feel guilty or embarrassed about retirement lose sleep thinking about their future. The better people feel about retirement, the more sleep they get, according to Ramsey.
Americans who work with a financial adviser are nearly twice as likely as those who don’t to say they are “very confident” that they will have enough money to retire, the report says. They are also more likely to have a six-figure nest egg.
Meanwhile, the Schwab survey of 1,000 401(k) participants, said that having enough money for a comfortable retirement is the most common cause of stress for people of all ages. The most common stress inducers:
- Building adequate retirement savings (40 percent)
- Job security (24 percent)
- Paying of credit card debt (21 percent)
- Keeping up with monthly expenses (21 percent)
Millennials, despite having more time to save, still named saving for retirement as a major source of financial stress (38 percent). Other causes of financial stress for millennials: monthly expenses, 29 percent; credit card debt (26 percent) and student loans (24 percent).
“With so many competing obligations and priorities, it’s natural for people to worry about whether they’re saving enough for retirement,” said Steve Anderson, president of Schwab Retirement Plan Services. “Roughly nine of 10 respondents told us they are relying mostly on themselves to finance retirement.”
Nearly half of those surveyed said it is impossible to save enough in their 401(k) for a comfortable retirement.
Question of the week: Are you stressed about your retirement? What is you biggest worry? Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line put “Stressed about Retirement.”
Last week’s question: What are your biggest regrets about retirement and retirement planning?
Don and Michele Behan of Gettysburg, Pa., wrote:
My husband had to retire early due to a layoff and various health problems, including lung cancer, which fortunately was caught very early and is currently in remission. Our biggest regret was the lack of knowledge about when to liquidate his 401(k)s to help with our costs of living once his income was lost. We knew that because he was over age 55, but not yet 59 1/2 when he left his last job, that he could take out his 401(k) without early withdrawal penalty.
However, we mistakenly assumed that rule held for all his 401(k)s, not just the one at his present job. So we cashed out a $47,500 401(k) from a job he had held 10 years prior. It wasn’t until we got a notice from the IRS informing us that we owed taxes on that withdrawal that we learned the rule about cashing in a 401(k) after the age of 55 due to a job loss (without incurring an early withdrawal penalty) only applied to the company of last employment.
So we now owe the IRS the 10% penalty of $4,750, which we are paying through an installment plan.
I now advise all our friends that it’s best to roll over any old 401(k)s into a new company of employment, so if an early job loss ever occurs after the age of 55, those funds are protected from early withdrawal penalty. I wish we had known this ourselves!
Anthony Greszler of St. Augustine, Fla.:
I retired from full time employment in December, 2015, at age 65. I had saved in 401(k) plans and an IRA for nearly 40 years and even after a divorce 7 years ago, I retained over $1.5 million in retirement funds and considerable amounts in real estate assets. My new wife and I retired to Florida and rented out the home she owned in Bethesda, Md. I found enough consulting work that added to rental income, such that we delayed my Social Security, although we will start hers along with spousal for me on our 66th birthdays this year.
Seems like we did everything right. What do I regret? We decided to build a new home in Florida and have enough assets to self fund, but to avoid very high withdrawals from the IRA and associated high tax rates, we sought to secure a bank loan for approximately half the cost of the house. Much to our surprise, banks were unwilling to loan based on our assets but required a steady income stream to cover the loan payments and our other mortgage. My self-employment income did not count since they required two years of records. Rental income did not count for the same reason. Social Security or potential Social Security did not count, since we were not yet taking it. It would have been easy to secure the loan when I was still full-time employed. The lesson: If you are planning to build or buy a new home (or other expensive asset) in retirement, secure the financing while you are still employed. This is a bit of advice, I have never seen anywhere.
Paul Morgan of Brookhaven, Miss.:
Although I am still a few years away from retirement and feel certain that I will have an 80% income amount, I still regret having started and stopped earlier putting away for retirement and emptying a 401(k), I had with a previous employer, though I was in college at the time. I had returned to college at the age of 26 and graduated prior to turning 30. But as they say “If ‘if’ were a skiff we would all go a rowing.”
My most recent retirement columns:
Michelle Singletary’s Color of Money Columns
Write Brooks at The Washington Post, 1301 K St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071, or email@example.com. On Twitter @Perfiguy. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read more, go to washingtonpost.com/business