The 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey that the Employee Benefit Research Institute released this week underscores the need for retirement planning. Sixty-seven percent of workers surveyed said that they are a little or a lot behind schedule in planning for their senior years. Although this percentage is unchanged from 2011, it is 12 percentage points higher than the 55 percent of workers in 2005 who felt their efforts were lagging.
One advantage 21st century workers have in managing their finances and planning for their retirement is ever evolving technology that gives them access to more resources and information. Are they taking advantage? According the EBRI study, 53 percent of workers, but just one-quarter of retirees (26 percent) report they use a desktop or laptop with a direct Internet connection to help manager their finances.
Almost as many workers and retirees (46 percent and 18 percent, respectively) use a desktop or laptop with a wireless Internet connection. Smartphones, smartphone apps and tablet computers are used by a much smaller percentage. The study found that the likelihood of using each of these devices increases sharply with household income and education. Workers under 45 are also more likely than older workers to report adapting these devices, except a tablet computer.
EBRI found that a minority of workers and retirees are at a point where they feel comfortable using online technologies to manage their finances. Just over a third (34 percent) of workers and 23 percent of retirees said they are at ease obtaining information about financial products online.
Forty-one percent of workers and 34 percent of retirees said they feel very comfortable transferring money from one account or investment to another online, while 37 percent of workers and just 19 percent of retirees feel very comfortable using calculators online to assist them financial decisions.
Even fewer workers and retirees (19 percent and 14 percent, respectively) say they are very comfortable purchasing financial products online or obtaining advice from professionals online (10 percent and 7 percent).
Again, EBRI found that facility with technology and performing financial management tasks online is higher for young people and those with college degrees.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.