Retirement & Financial Planning Report

Deferred Retirement

Six-tenths of TSP account holders are confident that they are on track to have enough income to support a comfortable lifestyle in retirement, a survey has found, while the remainder were about evenly split between those not confident and those who are neutral.

The 61 percent who are confident is lower than the 69 percent in a comparable national survey, although those in the TSP poll who actually are retired were more positive, with 76 percent confident and only 10 percent not confident, said a summary of the results released at a meeting of the TSP’s governing board last week.


Retirees also were the most optimistic regarding their overall financial condition, with 72 percent positive compared with 65 percent of those separated but still working and 52 percent of active employees; all three were above a benchmark of 43 percent in a nationwide poll. Among active employees confidence increased with each successively older age group.

The survey involved TSP account holders currently under FERS or who separated from the government and kept their accounts open, some of whom are fully retired and some still working but elsewhere. Among current employees, the survey further divided respondents into early, middle and late career categories—below age 35, 35-49 and 50 and above.

While the TSP has conducted other participant surveys, the polling conducted last fall was the first specifically focused on financial and retirement wellness, the summary said. Other key findings included:

* Of those not confident in their retirement security, the main reason was that they were not confident they were saving enough, followed by having too much debt/living expenses being too high, and concern that they will outlive their savings.

* Mortgages/rents were the greatest barrier to retirement savings overall, followed by personal debt, student loans and child/elder care costs. Among early career workers student loan debt was the top reason.

* Only 48 percent have an idea of how much money they will need to retire comfortably, ranging from just 29 percent of early career employees to 60 percent of late career employees. Those with such an idea most commonly think in terms of monthly or annual income needed, although nearly half think in terms of a dollar amount needed at retirement.

* Having an emergency savings fund is strongly linked to retirement confidence. Eighty-one percent had such a fund and of those, half said they have at least $5,000 in the fund.


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