Saturday, August 18, 2001

Older Kentuckians not saving

Retirement survey follows national trend

The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — Nearly a third of Kentuckians 45 and older have less than $5,000 in savings for retirement, a study shows.

        The Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center, the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging and the UK Survey Research Center conducted the survey. Researchers sent out 2,500 surveys and received 962 responses.

        An estimated 18 percent of those surveyed said they had no retirement savings. Another 10 percent said they had less than $5,000 saved, and another 7 percent said they didn't know how much money they had saved.

        Michael Childress, executive director of the Long-Term Policy Research Center, said a number of factors can explain why older Kentuckians aren't saving enough.

        “One is that people don't have a clear idea of how much they'll get from Social Security,” he said. “And a lot of people don't have the resources to save large sums of money because of competing needs and demands.”

        The results reflect a national trend, said Robert Cole, a certified financial planner and president of Financial Architects, a Louisville-based planning firm.

        “Studies have shown that baby boomers are woefully unprepared,” Mr. Cole said. “I'd say about 60 percent of people don't have adequate retirement savings. People expect to retire at 55 with no reduction in standard of living, yet with only 50 percent of the money they'll need. They're in denial.”

        Last year's census figures showed that about 500,000 Kentuckians — about 12.5 percent of the state's total population — are 65 or older. Demographers at the University of Louisville say that figure will rise to about 17 percent by 2020.

        Among those surveyed, only about half said they were confident that they will have enough money for retirement.

        The study also found that 44 percent of retirees say Social Security is their most important source of retirement income. Among respondents who were not yet retired, 31 percent said it will be their most important source.

        Pensions were second-most important — 39 percent among retirees and 33 percent for those still working.

        Only 4 percent of retirees said their most important source of income was other personal savings, and even fewer cited work-sponsored retirement plans like 401(k)s.

        “The first step is to maximize tax-deferred retirement plans, such as 401(k)s or individual retirement accounts,” Mr. Cole said.

        Congress has made it easier to contribute to such plans with tax-cut legislation President Bush signed in June.


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