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51% of Americans Think They Will Be Financially Comfortable in Retirement

51 percent of americans enough money retire well

The latest is in on how many people think they will be financially comfortable in retirement.

Nearly half of non-retired Americans said they foresaw an uncomfortable retirement, according to new findings from Gallup. Meanwhile, 51% predicted they would have enough money for comfortable living in the golden years.

What’s the verdict for after retirement? Good news on that front, as the numbers go up. Almost 8 in 10 retirees (78%) reported that they were financially comfortable.

It’s a trend that has been pretty consistent since Gallup started tracking the data in 2002. In past years, 72% and 83%, respectively, were the lowest and highest measures of retired Americans reporting financial retirement comfort.

What Else Did Gallup Uncover?

While many Americans expect discomfort in their financial futures, there may be good news ahead. Financial optimism tends to pick up as people age.

51 percent retire comfortably

Analysis from Gallup showed that people generally become more positive about their financial well-being once they retire.

In 2002-2004, 54% of 50- to 64-year-old non-retired adults said they would have enough money to live comfortably once retired. Fast-forward a decade-and-a-half later, and Gallup interviewed retirees roughly in the same cohort, now ages 65 to 80.

Here, the share of Americans reporting financial comfort, albeit now in retirement, swelled to 77%. That supports Gallup’s other finding, that people generally find themselves better off in retirement.

How much income people had also greatly determined whether or not they lived comfortably. Among retirees making less than $30,000 per year, 54% reported financial discomfort. In that same group, 45% of retirees said they had enough money for a comfortable lifestyle.

Meanwhile, higher levels of income were a strong determiner of financial comfort. Among retirees making $30,000-$74,999, 83% said they had enough money to live comfortably whereas 17% said they didn’t.

Having enough money for a comfortable retirement was prominent among retirees bringing in $75,000 or more per year. Almost all (98%) said they had a financially comfortable retirement lifestyle, while 2% said they didn’t.

Financial Concerns Linger, Medical Costs and Retirement Top List

Everyone in the survey had some measure of financial worries, from covering medical costs of an accident or serious illness to maintaining their standard of living. Overall, Americans reported moderate or high concern over:

  • Not being able to pay medical costs in the event of a serious illness or accident (58%)
  • Not having enough money for retirement (58%)
  • Not being able to pay medical costs for normal healthcare (44%)
  • Not being able to maintain the standard of living you enjoy (43%)
  • Not having enough money to pay for your children's college (37%)
  • Not having enough to pay your normal monthly bills (34%)
  • Not being able to pay your rent, mortgage or other housing costs (30%)
  • Not being able to make the minimum payments on your credit cards (18%)


People's retirement status was a determining factor in what concerns they held. These differences can be seen in the table below, courtesy of Gallup

financial concerns gallup survey

How Did We Get Here?

So.... why do pre-retirees feel this way about their futures? In an article by Annie Nova of CNBC, Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport served up some food for thought.

Even though retiree financial optimism was high, Newport pointed out that there was still an unsettling amount of retirees who weren't confident. One in five retired Americans reported financial discomfort. "That's disturbing," as Newport explained the finding to Nova.

And what accounts for the gap between people's retirement expectations and where they actually end up? Newport presented a few theories.

Worries over the future of Social Security, along with an ever-constant flow of headlines about an impending retirement readiness crisis, are a couple of possibilities. Newport also explained that personal definitions of "comfortable" may change with age.

"When you're non-retired you may say, 'I have to get that Porsche Cayenne my neighbor has,'" he said. "But when you're retired you just say 'To heck with it—I'll just drive my old Mercury.'"

Takeaways from the Survey 

The trend of rising financial optimism in retirement is certainly good news. But other findings from the Gallup survey help to back a universal truth: Things tend to go smoother when you have a financial gameplan. 

In its brief, Gallup noted that its findings lined up with data from a survey it conducted with Wells Fargo, the Index of Investor Optimism. That collaboration found that retired adults with $100,000 or more in assets were much more positive about being able to maintain their preferred lifestyle than those with lower asset holdings.

These findings reinforce the importance of planning ahead for retirement income as well as other post-retirement goals. And for those interested in seeing what additional steps they can take toward greater confidence, working with a financial professional can make a real difference.

Need Help with Your Retirement Income Planning?

As you consider your own future, you may seek personal assistance to achieve your retirement income goals. When you are ready for guidance, financial professionals at SafeMoney.com stand ready to help you. 

You can request a personal, no-obligation appointment by connecting directly with someone in our "Find a Financial Professional" section. Should you need a personal referral, call us at 877.476.9723.

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