Living more frugally and paying off debt has paid off for one in five retirees — but fewer are looking out to the future to estimate how long their assets will last in retirement.

This is according to a new report, “The Financial Recovery for Retirees Continues,” by the Society of Actuaries, LIMRA and the International Foundation for Retirement Education, based on a survey of 461 retirees.

Only 28% of retirees feel less financially secure than when they retired, down from 49% who held these fears in 2009. This is close to the level of confidence among retirees before the 2008 downturn, when only 20% of retirees reported feeling less financially secure than when they first retired.

Forty-six percent of the retirees surveyed said they have no debt, compared to 38% in 2009. However, 46% have not estimated how long their assets will last in retirement — a big jump from 38% in 2008.

 “We’re surprised by the number of retirees who have not considered how long their assets and investments might last, given the market volatility of recent years,” says actuary and retirement expert Anna Rappaport, chairman of the Society of Actuaries’ committee on post-retirement needs and risks.

The study finds that people who’ve calculated how long their money might last in retirement are more confident they have saved enough to live comfortably, than those who have not. And the 61% who are working with a financial professional are more likely to plan ahead for their lives. The research also reveals that retirees with financial advisers have larger portfolios than those without.

As far as the appetite for annuities among retirees struggling to meet basic living expenses is concerned, it has remained low, at 32% in 2011, up imperceptibly from 30% in 2008.

 “This research emphasizes the importance of retirees educating themselves on how to successfully plan for their retirement years, while understanding the value of partnering with a trusted financial adviser for guidance,” says Betty Meredith, director of education and research at InFRE.

This article first appeared on Money Management Executive, a Source Media publication.

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