A new study released this week by the Employee Benefit Research Institute shows retirement confidence remains at a record low, more than five years after the start of the recession.
The study says a record percentage of Americans remain worried they won't be able to afford retirement when the time comes.
Sixty-nine-year-old Tyler resident Susan Frazier started working more than 20 years ago after she raised her kids, and says there's no way she and her husband could retire now and live comfortably.
"Money-wise, oh yeah, I would feel the pinch. And more and more of my friends talk about that, that you know, it's really more difficult today. I mean, things have gone up so much," said Frazier, who works as the Activity Director at the Azalea Trails Assisted Living Center in Tyler.
Frazier's not alone.
According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute's 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey, only 13 percent of workers surveyed feel they will be able to retire comfortably - while 49 percent said they are not too or not at all confident.
"There are twice as many people who are scared about their retirement today as there were in 2007," said Dr. Harold Doty, the Dean of the College of Business and Technology at UT Tyler. "And I've got to tell you, I'm one of those people who's lost confidence or who have less confidence today than I did a few years ago."
And the survey says a sizeable percentage of workers have little to no money in savings and investments, with 57 percent reporting the value of their savings and investments is less than $25,000.
Dr. Doty says the economy is recovering and that low retirement confidence is the result of five years of a down-economy.
"Despite the fact that things are good today, I mean, the economy appears to be recovering, we haven't made up all of the damage that happened over the last five to seven years, and that's going to take awhile," he said.
"How long?" I asked Doty. "I can't answer that question," he said.
And for many people near retirement age, unknown expenses like medical care may force them to keep working.
"My meds are very expensive every month. My husband and I probably spend $600 extra on meds," said Frazier. "And that gets expensive."
Doty recommends that people who have plenty of time to think about retirement do so, by giving up the luxuries and saving more, earlier and at a higher rate.
"There aren't comfortable solutions," Doty said. "Unfortunately, the solutions are the same things we've been told for a long time: you need to work harder and save more."
As for Frazier, well, she's decided she may just never retire.
"The Bible doesn't tell us to retire, you know? We're supposed to work until He comes, and I just think that working is a good thing for senior people," said Frazier. "I think it keeps me active."
The 2013 retirement confidence study was made up of 1,254 Americans ages 25 and older. That included 251 retirees.
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