Retirement and health care costs top the list of the most pressing financial concerns, according to a February survey of affluent households conducted by Millionaire Corner.
Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they are most concerned about having adequate retirement savings. This concern is most keenly felt by baby boomers ages 51-60 (31 percent), followed by those between 4-50 (21.5 percent).
The Employee Benefit Research Institute’s 2011 Retirement Confidence Survey found a distressing lack of it. The percentage of workers not at all confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement rose five percentage points to 27 percent, the highest level measured in the 21 years of the survey. At the same time, the survey found, the percentage who said they were very confident in being able to afford a comfortable retirement shrunk to 13 percent, a low first measured in 2009.
With Americans living longer (an estimated 600,000 Americans will live to be 100 by 2050, according to the Census Bureau), it is not surprising that health care costs were cited by 21 percent of respondents as their biggest financial concern. Health costs, among the most significant drains on retirement savings, are especially worrisome to respondents ages 51 and up (24 percent).
Health costs ranked higher on a new Merill Lynch Global Wealth Management study released this week. For the third year in a row, affluent Americans polled in the survey cited health costs as their biggest financial worry. A third of respondents said they were more worried about the financial strain of a significant health problem, like chronic illness, than they were about how it might affect their quality of life.
Stretching retirement savings goes hand in hand with concerns about having adequate retirement savings to live comfortably. Worries about inflation and living expenses were cited by 17 percent of respondents to the Millionaire Corner survey. This was of the greatest concern to those over 60 (26 percent) and those under 40 (11 percent).
Wealth is a key factor in concern about other issues weighing on investors. For example, 18 percent who have a net worth of less than $100,000 said they were concerned about job security for themselves or a spouse compared with just 3 percent of Millionaire households. Similarly, 25 percent of those who earn less than $100,000 cite reducing their personal debt as their biggest financial worry, more than twice as much as surveyed investors overall. Sixteen percent of this wealth segment worry about being able to save for the future, more than twice as many as respondents overall.
As those with less wealth tend to be younger, it is not surprising that those under 40 are also most concerned than their older counterparts about job security and reducing debt (20 percent) and having adequate retirement savings (17 percent).
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.