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Retirement planning is an evolving art

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP - Managing Editor
For many people, experiencing a comfortable retirement is a lifelong goal. We save and save so that one day we can spend our time fishing, golfing or just sitting around on our front porches. Funding our retirements has changed a lot over the years as social security benefits are no longer enough for the job. Unfortunately for many seniors, the reality of retirement isn't living a life of leisure, but instead one of part-time jobs and struggling to get by.
Lately Americans have had even more anxiety related to their retirement savings as 401Ks, IRAs and other means of saving have taken a hit as the stock market struggled. A recent survey has shown that retirement anxiety has continued to grow and that some baby boomers have decided to postpone their own retirements.
According to the 13th annual Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, American Savings Education Council (ASEC) and Mathew, Greenwald &Associates, Americans' overall confidence in their ability to retire comfortably has decreased only slightly from last year, yet there are strong indications of growing anxiety because of stock market losses and continuing economic turmoil.
The survey also points to three main factors that may explain why workers' confidence remains relatively high, even after three years of substantial stock market decline.
Specifically, the 2003 RCS shows that 21 percent of workers feel very confident about having enough money to live comfortably in retirement and 45 percent feel somewhat confident. However, nearly a quarter (24 percent) of workers age 45 or older this year say that they plan to postpone their retirement age, up 9 percentage points from 2002 (15 percent), mainly due to financial or economic concerns. In addition, there is a 6 percentage-point increase in the share of workers not at all confident that they will have enough money saved for retirement, up from 10 percent in 2002 to 16 percent in 2003.
Here are some other findings from the survey:
There is no doubt that saving for retirement is an ever-changing art. Many workers have accepted the idea that they will have to work past the age of 65. No matter when we plan to retire, there are a lot of factors to consider and they are changing all the time.
robert.blankenship@brewtonstandard.com