More Frightening Than Death: Fear & Loathing in Retirement

Many people fear one thing more than death, and it’s something almost all of us will have to face.

Retirement.

Turns out the shine is wearing off the golden years before they’ve even begun.

We surveyed 800+ Americans to explore their feelings about retirement and what preparations they’re making.

First up, our headline finding. For many, the fear factor of retirement trumps death itself.

  • 40% of respondents who feared retirement agreed it scared them more than death
  • Men are more likely than women to be more scared of retirement, 44% vs 36%.
  • Only 33% of our respondents aged 39+ were more scared of retirement, but for those younger than 39 the figure was 52%.

But what factors make it so terrifying? And what are people doing to prepare for it?

Losing income and medical insurance are the two biggest concerns. 

But the fear of slowing down is important too. 71% had concerns about being less mentally active, and 64% about being less physically active. 

Next we moved on to how people are preparing for retirement. First taking a look at our respondents’ views about Social Security.

Starting with the minimum retirement age, 45% said they’d like to keep working after reaching it. And 40% said they’d like to retire.

But there was also an unfortunate 15% who said they’d like to retire but will be forced to keep working.

Most people, 68%, still trust the government will deliver them retirement benefits. But, the majority also believe that those benefits won’t be as generous in the future.

So just how much do people think they’ll receive?

Worryingly, 40% of people said they don’t know how much they’ll receive.

But for those who did know the biggest group of answers was in the $1000–$2000 per month range, 36% chose this option.

And a lucky 9% said they’d get more than $3000 a month.

But—

It’s been calculated that the average salary earner needs $3,400 a month to maintain their lifestyle in retirement. So people are going to need more than just Social Security.

Despite this, 53% of our respondents have no access to other pensions, and even more worryingly, 25% said they won’t claim Social Security

Then of those with no Social Security or other pensions, 40% said they won’t have any other sources of income to fall back on. 

20% of our respondents in total fell into this group. A full 1 in 5 say they have nothing at all in place for retirement.

But for those who are making preparations, here’s a look at what they’re doing.

  • 71% will rely on cash savings, closely followed by 62% who have stock market investments.
  • One in five had cryptocurrency investments.
  • And a trusting 15% said they’d rely on support from their family.

When it comes to retirement, people are scared and unprepared. Our advice is to take action now, start planning and get advice. Face those fears and make preparations, so your golden years will be as comfortable as possible.

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