A Maddening 401k Financial Wellness Contradiction

Retirement was the most commonly cited savings priority

401k participant behavior can be somewhat frustrating.401k participant behavior can be somewhat frustrating.

How’s this for a point of 401k frustration? More Americans are anxiety-ridden about retirement, and plan to do absolutely nothing about it.

A new end-of-year survey from NerdWallet finds retirement was the most commonly cited savings priority, but less than a third of Americans report feeling confident they saved enough in 2016, and another one in three are not currently saving for retirement at all.

The New Year might not see much improvement, according to NerdWallet’s Arielle O’Shea: Of those who have a workplace retirement plan, only 32 percent plan to increase their contribution next year.

Among the key survey findings:

  • Skipping retirement saving: 30 percent of Americans report they are currently not saving for retirement at all, including 43 percent of millennials ages 18 to 34.
  • Financial anxiety runs high: Three out of four have some type of financial worry. The top financial concerns are health care bills and expenses, lack of emergency savings, lack of retirement savings and credit card debt.
  • Deeper concern from older Americans: Those ages 45 to 54 are most likely to report concern about their lack of retirement savings (40 percent), and only 20 percent are confident they saved enough this year.
  • Missed tax advantages: Of those who are saving for retirement, 55 percent report doing so in a regular savings account, compared with 50 percent who report using a workplace retirement plan like a 401(k) and 39 percent who are using an individual retirement account like a traditional or Roth IRA. (Respondents were able to select more than one account.)

Americans at least seem to know the importance of saving for retirement, putting that goal at the top of their list of savings priorities, O’Shea writes.

“Yet as we near the end of the year, less than a third (29 percent) of those who are currently saving for retirement say they feel confident they have saved enough this year, and only 15 percent intend to max out their employer-sponsored retirement plan for 2016.”

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