web analytics

AARP States That Lower Income Americans Are Nervous About Retirement??

September 27, 2010 · 104 comments

in Personal Finance

I was perusing Kiplinger News the other night when I came across an article discussing how the economic downturn has really hit the retirement security of lower income individuals. I found this paragraph interesting:

According to AARP, the Washington-based organization that lobbies in the interests of older people, more than half of Americans over the age of 45 who earn less than $25,000 per year are “not at all” or “not too” confident they will be able to make ends meet in retirement.

I guess what I find the most interesting about that ‘statistic’ is that only half of these lower income people don’t feel confident about retirement.  I would think the number would be closer to 90 or 100 percent of people that make less than $25,000/year would feel ‘insecure’ about their retirement prospects. Perhaps many of the people surveyed that felt secure about retirement are counting on Social Security to care for them in their elder years?  Maybe some have pensions?  Perhaps the low income earners are not aware of how much money it truly takes to retire?  Or, are they thinking of working forever, and just being retired for a few years? Think of how little $25,000 really is.  The people in this study were already over the age of 45.  Therefore, I assume that their ability to save in their younger years was minimal, as their salary was (probably) even less then.  Who can think of setting money aside for retirement when you have a house payment and need to put food on the table? What worries me is that possibly people feel overconfident because of a lack of knowledge.  I know from dealing with family members that  have Medicare and supplemental insurance that medical/prescriptions costs can still be very high.  Not to mention the regular bills that still need to be paid such as taxes, utilities, car payments, food, etc.  How can Social Security cover all of that?  Not to mention that nobody knows how solvent Social Security will be when these people retire in 20 or so years. So, are you surprised that more of the lower income people surveyed were NOT more worried about financing retirement?  Do you think it is a lack of education, having unrealistic expectations, or do you agree that they should be just fine?

If you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment or subscribe to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Thanks for visiting!!!

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

The Biz of Life September 27, 2010 at 7:42 am

I would expect 100% of people making $25K a year to be worried about retirement. Odds are they have little savings and are counting on Social Security to fund their retirements. The state that Social Security is in, and the financial condition of the US government makes me very nervous that they can meet their obligations without destroying the dollar by printing money.


Kris September 27, 2010 at 2:41 pm

I agree with you Biz. I am nervous about retirement myself, and we have saved the max just about each year. Perhaps people have different expectations. Maybe I need my head examined. Either way, I wonder if those surveyed just plan to work forever?


Nicole September 27, 2010 at 8:25 am

The social security replacement rate is a lot higher for low earners, so more of their income will be replaced. If they’re making it on 25K now, they might be able to do it later too.

I haven’t seen this particular AARP survey, but it’s important to know who these 25K earners are. Is it part-time stay at home moms whose husbands earn more? Are they immigrants from families depending on children to take care of them after retirement? Are they folks whose parents dropped dead at age 50, and thus don’t expect to make it much past retirement?


Kris September 27, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Nicole, it is a good point that they did not provide any info on the people they surveyed, other than their income. If it is a second income, they I can understand not being worried. If it is a primary income, then I would be terrified.

You are right that if they are used to living on so little, they may be ok. Medicaid may help with medical bills and such if they have a medical emergency. However,I would still be nervous!


Sandy L September 27, 2010 at 11:42 am

People in that income range qualify for a lot of free things. One of my mom’s tenants was a second generation welfare recipient and she knew all the places to go to get food donations, subsidized housing, new Xmas gifts for her kids, etc.

My theory is that the people who aren’t worried have someone else taking care of them on some level…either government agencies and/or friends/family. If you have a big enough support system, you’ll always have a roof over your head and food in your belly.


Kris September 27, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Sandy, you are right in that there are many programs out there for those that are struggling. However, not all families are willing to take in their elderly relatives. (Unfortunately). Or, perhaps they cannot.

I wonder if those who are not worried have a good support system, or just haven’t really thought about it realistically. I save like a crazy person and I don’t feel safe. But then again, maybe I am just crazy.


Money Reasons September 27, 2010 at 12:23 pm

I think a lot of folks (including some from the higher income segment), have poor financial acumen. Many from this group will be a financial burden on their children (actually in some cultures, this is expected) whether they realize it or not.

Personally, I want my children to live the best life possible for as long as possible. So I’ll take the appropriate steps to try to advance both myself and them.


Kris September 27, 2010 at 2:45 pm

MR – I agree, many probably do not have the financial acumen to really realize how hard it may actually be. Or they just avoid it and figure things will work out somehow.


Money Reasons September 27, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Failing to plan is planning to fail 🙂

If anyone out there is as Kris describes above, start taking drastic actions now if possible! Many people assume that they will continue to work, but then an injury happens and they are bummin!

Nice stats Kris, I was somewhat surprised by the percentage of people that think it will be just fine…


Roshawn @ Watson Inc September 27, 2010 at 12:37 pm

My suspicion is that people some of these respondents who were not concerned are so use to surviving on less than $25,000 that the thought of retiring with more than SS and minimal savings probably never seemed like a possibility. If you perceive that you cannot change the situation, then why fret? It is very sad, and I wish the study would have provided a better description of who the respondents were.


Kris September 27, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Roshawn, the article definitely needed to provides some demographics in terms of who they surveyed. I can only assume that it is a household income, and not a second income.

Some of these families may be taking care of social programs already, and figure those programs will still care for them when they are older. However, I would hate to rely on government decisions to take care of me.


Jolyn@Budgets are the New Black September 27, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Unfortunately I think it can attributed to the mentality that there will always be some program to bail them out, and that many of them believe that from experience. Perhaps a small, small percentage of them aren’t worried b/c they live quite contentedly on their relatively small income…


Suba @ Wealth Informatics September 27, 2010 at 8:49 pm

I would have thought 100% of them would worry about retirement. BUT I think there are a few things going for them –

1) They already live with $25000 so they probably have very modest needs (no travel, entertainment) already. So they might be able to do it with very little.
2) SS will be a work better for the low income folks than the high income (though I won’t feel “secure” with just SS)
3) They might not even know how much they need for retirement and such. Ignorance is bliss in this case?
4) They might be thinking there will be enough government love to take them through their retirement.


Ken @Spruce Up Your Finances September 27, 2010 at 9:44 pm

I really would expect that 100% of people making just $25,000 for retirement should be worried. You are right on that lack of knowledge by a lot of people in that category causes that percentage to be around 50%. $25,000 nowadays is nothing if you factor in all the living expenses such as rent, food, medical care. However, it could work out if they have a decent standard of living or if they can get additional support from the government in the form of welfare.


Crystal @ BFS September 29, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Yeah, I’m surprised that the other 50% are just fine living off of others in their later years…that’s just a little creepy in my opinion…


Sarah Renaud April 7, 2011 at 8:27 pm

What a bunch of pompous asses ! I am one of the low income people and have NEVER taken a govt handout in my life.I am a 52 year old divorced medical secretary and have worked full time since I was 20. I only have 2 years of college, but I am not lazy , nor am I unintelligent.I made just under 30k last year, and as every year, I owe the govt money this tax season.I am not afraid of retiring, fear is an unproductive state of mind, so the day the money runs out , I will do like the old natives and walk into the desert and disappear. I will NEVER be a burden to my govt or fellow taxpayers, I promise you. I’m sure there is a high percentage of people like me that don’t fit in the narrow minded box you have created for low income people like me.


Leave a Comment

{ 6 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: