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A new survey says most Americans recognize they are responsible for funding their own retirement, but they need more help from their employers: better education, stronger incentives and help with other financial issues.

The report also says that people are falling short of their own retirement savings goals.

The Natixis 2016 Retirement Plan Participant Study polled 951 workers of all ages across the U.S. who have access to a retirement plan at their jobs. Those surveyed said on average they need $878,206 to fund their retirement in order to live 22 years in retirement, but, so far they have saved only $208,333, or 24 percent of that goal. Those totals include money in current retirement plans and other retirement accounts, including IRAs, rollover IRAs and taxable accounts.

By generation:

  • Baby boomers say they will need $934,677, but have saved only $313,981 or 34 percent of their goal.
  • Gen X-ers say they will need $810,387 but have saved only $190,998 or 24 percent of their goal
  • Millennials say they will need $869,622, and have saved $69,570, or 8 percent of their goal.

Other results:

  • 69 percent of millennials compared to 55 percent of baby boomers believe people should be required to contribute towards their retirement savings.
  • 82 percent of millennials vs. 77 percent of Gen X-ers say that employers should be required to offer retirement plans.
  • 76 percent of millennials compared to 66 percent of baby boomers say businesses should be required to provide matching funds in retirement accounts.

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Question of the week: We got such a huge response from last week’s question, we’ll ask it again:

Some financial planners say expenses in retirement are only 80 percent of what they are when you are working. Others say your expenses don’t go down at all. What is you experience? Send comments to rodney.brooks@washpost.com. Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line put “Retirement Expenses.”

Libby Anderson of Harrisburg, Pa.:

Husband retired last July. Our expenses have reduced somewhat, but we are in the unusual position of having a child still in college. We will be about 84 percent of our pre-retirement budget with just eliminating the mortgage and her allowance. Expect once she graduates we will be down to 80 percent.

Dale Burks of New Port Richey, Fla.:

I agree in large part with the examples put forth in your recent article but would like to contribute further.
I have told all my kids that expenses in retirement will be 100% of your working expenses IF you continue to live in roughly the same style as when working.  Since you will have much more time when retired you may wish to travel more extensively and “vacation” traveling is really a rich person’s sport.  Air travel can be pricey and a better level of clothing will be required.

The government sets its cost of living components with items you will probably need far less often (housing, car etc).  As a result, your purchases will consume a higher percentage of your monthly expenses than before and items considered almost a necessity while working (internet, cable) may have a lower priority but if needed, take that higher percentage again.

While one has to start somewhere to budget retirement, the truth is the two environments can be wildly different so you should load your savings accounts as heavily as possible so that retirement becomes a fun time not one perpetually short of funds.
Joel Dunn of Chapel Hill, N.C.:

I retired at the end of 2013 at age 56; my wife retired a couple of years before me. I’m fortunate to have an excellent, stable pension. I have worked about 1/2-time since retirement (as an exec in a small software firm). I’ve also taught as an adjunct at a local university. My income is slightly higher post-retirement than before. We have not withdrawn any IRA/401K funds due to age, and because we’ve not needed them. I provide this context for my answer to your question in The Post about the direction of expense trajectory.

My youngest child finished college right when I retired; after eight years of college expenses we traded those education expenses for travel. With more time to spend, I find my budget essentially the same. No commuting expenses and no neckties to buy, but lots of opportunity to spend on hobbies. I’ve taken up HAM radio, not an inexpensive hobby. I was already a fly fisherman. You get the picture. I know I’m not typical, but then your readership is skewed toward professionals like myself.

The net? I have more time and spend the repurposed dollars easily. I think that 100 percent is right for planning, especially for relatively young retirees like myself. My wife tells me if I want to cut my hours to curtail spending.
Leslie Linfante:
I have been retired for 14 years.
My expenses have gone down for the following reasons:
1)  Don’t need to save for retirement.
2)  Don’t have the same car and clothing expenses.
3)  Eat out less and prepare meals at home for a large savings.
4)  Have time to make hard cider, and we’re enjoying that instead of buying wine.
5)  Social Security is not taken out of my pension.
6)  Have time and energy to be creative with gifts, so they tend to cost less.

The only expenses that have gone up:
Pre-Medicare, health insurance was through the roof (taking my entire pension).
With Medicare, it is manageable.
Travel budget is somewhat higher, but with the reduced stress of not being employed, we seem to need to “get away” less.  (We both traveled extensively as young people, so we have less need to see the world than some may.)

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