So how do Americans really feel about retirement saving and investing?

According to a new Franklin Templeton Investments survey, 73% of respondents report they find thinking about retirement saving and investing causes them stress and anxiety.

And retirement stress is only on the rise, the 2013 Franklin Templeton Retirement Income Strategies and Expectations survey reveals. Over a third, or 37%, of respondents say they are more concerned about outliving their assets or having to make major sacrifices to their retirement plans today than 12 months ago. In response, 67% indicated they would make financial sacrifices now in order to live better in retirement.

But survey respondents’ solutions to insufficient income in retirement are troublesome. To resolve such a situation, 62% of respondents say they would delay retirement, and 45% that they would increase sources of income, i.e. work part-time. Also, 74% of pre-retirees anticipates taking Social Security benefits at their “full” retirement age (ages 66 or 67) or later.

However, given that one-third of current retirees reported they were forced to retire due to circumstances beyond their control, such as health issues and company downsizing, working longer may not be a realistic option. Also, 63% of current retirees were forced to tap into benefits early, sacrificing their benefit amount by as much as 25%.

Contrary to expectation, older adults also lack in savings: 68% of adults aged 45 to 54 and half of those aged 55 to 64 have $100,000 or less in retirement savings.

In addition, 47% of respondents lack confidence in their knowledge of how much of their current income will be replaced by Social Security. A comparable number, 44%, are similarly unsure concerning their defined contribution retirement plan. Finally, 62% do not know how much they can expect to withdraw from their savings annually during retirement.

Meanwhile, 58% of investors who have worked with an adviser to develop a written retirement income strategy are confident about how much of their income will be replaced by Social Security, and 55% are confident about how much of their income will be replaced by their employer-sponsored retirement plan.

Survey respondents reported that the topic of highest concern for them was health care (48%), followed by living (24% housing, 3% food) and lifestyle (12%). 93% of pre-retirees expect their retirement expenses to be similar or less than pre-retirement spending. They may be more or less correct on this, as only 15% of those retired indicated that their actual retirement spending was more than expected.

Irene Park writes for Financial Planning, a SourceMedia publication.

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