Are you already thinking about what job you want when you retire?
Not to sound pessimistic, but in Personal Capital’s latest survey of 772 retirees and near-retirees over 40, it was found that almost one-quarter of respondents (23.9%) have pushed back their retirement parties — and just as many (23.9%) plan on continuing to work part time once they leave their careers.
Paradoxically, the majority of the people in our survey (68%) said their investments performed well in 2020 and their overall net worth has increased moderately, despite a volatile stock market last year. Meanwhile, another 13.7% said their portfolio investments increased significantly.
Perhaps the boost wasn’t significant enough to cancel out the fear of rising costs, though: According to the survey, 77.1% of people expressed they were somewhat/very concerned about future inflation (even more so than the strength of Social Security and the cost of healthcare).
So what makes a person feel ready to retire when it comes to personal finances? Ahead, we take a look at the data and compare retirement-ready investment portfolios with those of people who expect some delays.
As you can see, the minimum net worth of survey respondents was $100,000. Here’s the spread:
- $100,000-$199,000: 0%
- $300,000-$399,999: 6%
- $400,000-$499,999: 0%
- $500,000-$999,999: 1%
- $1,000,000-$1,999,999: 2%
- $2,000,000-$2,999,999: 5%
- $3,000,000 or more: 4%
The largest sample group was people with a net worth between $100,000 and $199,000. That’s a little surprising given that you’d need $2 million in savings to live an $80,000-per-year lifestyle.
Learn more about how much you should save for retirement.
Most respondents will make incomes between $50,000 and $200,000 before taxes in 2021. Here’s a breakdown:
- Less than $50,000: 7%
- $50,000-$99,999: 6%
- $700,000-$799,999: 0.7%
- $1,000,000 or more:7%
Asset allocation refers to what kinds of securities and assets investors have in their retirement portfolio — stocks, bonds, cash, or other investments — and how much of each.
On average, the asset allocation of investors remains conservative — meaning people own more bonds and cash compared to stocks, which tend to be more volatile. Our survey respondents reported on average the following asset allocation making up their retirement savings:
- Stocks: 35%
- Bonds: 15%
- Cash: 26%
- Real estate investments: 9%
- Other: 15%
(Figures are medians unless otherwise indicated.)
When asked if the brief bear market and new stock market highs of 2020 affected their investing outlook, most people in the survey said there was no impact. Meanwhile, almost one-fourth (21.6%) became more risk averse. Just 13.3% said they became more bullish.
- It made me more bullish and more comfortable about investing in stocks: 3%
- It made me more risk averse after seeing how quickly the market can change: 6%
- It had no impact on my investing outlook: 0%
- Other: 1%
When it came to updating their asset allocation, most people (68.5%) kept their ratio of stocks, bonds, and cash the same. Just 13.3% added more stocks (the same people who reported becoming more bullish), 9.3% added more bonds, and 8.8% added to cash savings and cash-like investments.
Higher-income investors ($200,000+) were almost three times more likely than less-affluent investors to report becoming more bullish and adding more stocks to their portfolio in 2020. They were also more likely to report a “significant” increase in the value of their portfolio during the pandemic compared with investors who have lower income.
Federal stimulus money
The majority of survey respondents received federal stimulus funds during the pandemic. Just 13.6% did not, compared to 86.4% who did.
Most people who reported getting stimulus checks used them to pay bills, pay down debt, or add to their savings. Only a small amount of people (8.6%) invested their stimulus money, compared to 47.4% who put it into a savings account.
Social security retirement benefits
While the net worth of most survey respondents is considerably low given expert advice regarding how much to save for retirement, the majority of respondents who are currently retired also live on Social Security benefits in addition to their retirement investments. In our survey, 77.1% of respondents were already collecting Social Security.
Almost half stated they began collecting at age 62:
At what age did you start collecting Social Security retirement benefits?
- 62, the earliest age possible: 3%
- Later than 62, but before my full retirement age (66-67): 6%
- At full retirement age (66-67): 3%
- After my full retirement age (66-67) but before 70: 3%
- Age 70: 4%
It’s easy to make saving for retirement an afterthought when you’re decades away from your 60s, but the data shows there are clear benefits to having more money invested as you age. Retirees and near-retirees with higher net worths were better able to capitalize on the gains of 2020’s bullish market by adding a few higher-risk investments to their portfolio. And while social security is a good starting point, the average monthly benefit is just $1,544.
Getting started on your retirement savings today can help you weather another economic downturn in the future without putting off your retirement or having to take a part-time job. And if you’re already facing these choices, sign up for Personal Capital’s free guide with 65 tips for a smart retirement.
Author is not a client of Personal Capital Advisors Corporation and is compensated for the content contained in this article.
The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. Compensation not to exceed $500. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose money. Any reference to the advisory services refers to Personal Capital Advisors Corporation, a subsidiary of Personal Capital. Personal Capital Advisors Corporation is an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training nor does it imply endorsement by the SEC.