The Shape of Your Retirement


People who aren't yet retired don't intend to dial back completely once it's their turn. And they don't plan to keep working just because they need the money -- although a large majority say the value of their savings for retirement has decreased over the past two years.

Those are some of the results of our July 12 Reader Survey. Some 750 readers responded, over 500 of whom are still working at their regular jobs. About two-thirds of those who haven't yet retired said they intend to stay active in the workplace even after they leave their regular jobs -- primarily because they want to stay challenged and stimulated. Still, more than one-third of the active workers -- about 130 people -- said they'll continue to work at one job or another because they'll need the money.

Indeed, some 330 people said they expect to earn up to half their pre-retirement income from a post-retirement job. Perhaps that's because only 57% of all the readers who responded -- including those who are already retired -- are either very or somewhat confident of having enough income in retirement. About 40% are either somewhat worried or very worried that they won't have enough.

WORKING LONGER. In order, the three events that both retirees and active workers fear could leave them with too little retirement income are catastrophic medical expenses, simply outliving their savings, or a stock market crash. These fears exist even though 70% of those who responded said they have a net worth of $200,000 or more -- and 17% claimed a net worth of $1 million-plus.

Generally, the active workers who responded to the survey intend to retire at a later age than the respondents who are already retired -- though sizable chunks of both groups chose 55 to 60 as their preferred retirement age. And each group either already does or intends to rely primarily on employer-sponsored pension plans and their own savings for retirement income -- not on Social Security.

This Reader Survey, an unscientific poll since anyone who wanted could respond, was based on a Harris Interactive Inc. poll that's included in the July 29, 2002, issue's Retirement Guide.

Here are the complete results:

Are you currently:

Option

Total

%

Employed in your primary career

534

71.58 %

Looking for a job in that career

22

2.95 %

Retired from your primary career

166

22.25 %

Other

24

3.22 %

If you're retired, at what age did you do so?

Option

Total

%

55-60

94

15.02 %

61-62

22

3.51 %

63-65

30

4.79 %

66-67

11

1.76 %

67-plus

19

3.04 %

I'm not retired

450

71.88 %

If you aren't retired, at what age do you plan to do so?

Option

Total

%

55-60

203

30.71 %

61-62

105

15.89 %

63-65

131

19.82 %

66-67

60

9.08 %

67-plus

57

8.62 %

Other

26

3.93 %

I'm retired

79

11.95 %

If you're retired, what best describes your status?

Option

Total

%

Not working for pay

102

16.89 %

Working at my former occupation at reduced hours and pay

17

2.81 %

Work full-time in a different occupation

13

2.15 %

Work part-time in a different occupation

14

2.32 %

Do consulting in my former industry

22

3.64 %

Do consulting in a different industry

3

0.50 %

Have started a new business

7

1.16 %

Other

18

2.98 %

I'm not retired

408

67.55 %

If you're retired and you continue to work, why?

Option

Total

%

I need the money

30

5.40 %

I want to stay challenged and stimulated

57

10.25 %

I want to stay close to friends and associates from work

3

0.54 %

Other

11

1.98 %

I'm not retired

369

66.37 %

I'm retired but don't work

86

15.47 %

If you're retired and work, approximately what percentage of your pre-retirement income do you earn from work now?

Option

Total

%

Less than 25%

30

5.40 %

25% to 49%

18

3.24 %

50% to 74%

18

3.24 %

75% to 100%

9

1.62 %

100%-plus

9

1.62 %

I'm not retired

390

70.14 %

I'm retired but don't work

82

14.75 %

If you're retired, what are your primary sources of income (i.e., those that account for more than 10% of your total income)?

Option

Total

%

Social Security

26

4.37 %

Employer-sponsored pension

61

10.25 %

Employer stock program, including stock options

3

0.50 %

Personal savings and investments

74

12.44 %

Inheritances

1

0.17 %

Earnings from continued employment

13

2.18 %

Other

7

1.18 %

I'm not retired

410

68.91 %

If you're still working, what are you most likely to do after you retire?

Option

Total

%

Not work for pay

183

26.68 %

Continue to work in my current occupation, for reduced pay

40

5.83 %

Work full-time in a different occupation

26

3.79 %

Work part-time in a different occupation

194

28.28 %

Do consulting within my current industry

107

15.6 %

Do consulting in a different industry

7

1.02 %

Start a new business

42

6.12 %

I'm already retired

87

12.68 %

If you're still working, what's the primary reason you'll keep working after retirement?

Option

Total

%

I'll need the money

138

20.78 %

I'll want to stay challenged and stimulated

317

47.74 %

I'll want to stay close to friends and associates from work

9

1.36 %

I'm already retired

65

9.79 %

I don't plan to work after retirement

135

20.33 %

If you're still working, what percentage of your pre-retirement income do you expect to earn from work after you retire?

Option

Total

%

Less than 25%

167

25.46 %

25% to 49%

175

26.68 %

50% to 74%

90

13.72 %

75% to 100%

36

5.49 %

100%-plus

19

2.90 %

I don't plan to work after retirement

169

25.76 %

If you're still working, what do you expect your primary sources of income to be after you retire (i.e., those that account for more than 10%)?

Option

Total

%

Social Security

65

9.70 %

Employer-sponsored pension

187

27.91 %

Employer stock program, including stock options

22

3.28 %

Personal savings and investments

275

41.04 %

Inheritances

7

1.04 %

Earnings from continued employment

40

5.97 %

Other

10

1.49 %

I'm already retired

64

9.55 %

How confident are you that your retirement income is -- or will be -- sufficient?

Option

Total

%

Very confident

115

15.65 %

Somewhat confident

308

41.9 %

Somewhat worried

217

29.52 %

Very worried

80

10.88 %

Not sure

15

2.04 %

What do you consider the biggest single threat to you financial security in retirement?

Option

Total

%

Catastrophic medical expenses

253

34.47 %

Outliving your savings

209

28.47 %

Losing your post-retirement job

11

1.50 %

Becoming disabled

55

7.49 %

Stock market crash

176

23.98 %

Supporting your children

18

2.45 %

Supporting your aging parents

12

1.63 %

Over the past two years, has the value of your savings for retirement (not including your home):

Option

Total

%

Increased

186

25.07 %

Decreased

460

61.99 %

Remained the same

76

10.24 %

Not sure

20

2.70 %

What is your total net worth?

Option

Total

%

Less than $200,000

189

25.61 %

$200,000 to $400,000

144

19.51 %

$400,001 to $600,000

107

14.5 %

$600,001 to $800,000

79

10.7 %

$800,001 to $1 million

53

7.18 %

$1 million-plus

129

17.48 %

Not sure

37

5.01 %


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