No. of Recommendations: 1
Published by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), the 2004 survey points out that a significant number of people are off track with their retirement saving. In fact, 4 in 10 surveyed said they are not currently saving for retirement at all. And those who have saved cite low levels of savings and investments.

For more insight about the survey's findings, we spoke with Dallas L. Salisbury, president and CEO of the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Q: Are people aware of the increasing necessity to save for retirement?

DLS: Since nearly 60% have not done a calculation of how much they need to save for retirement, and a large proportion of those who did do a calculation don't know what number they got, the answer has to be no: most people are flying blind and hoping things just work out. A similar ratio of workers (7 in 10) said they plan to work during retirement.

Q: 47% of those surveyed haven't saved for retirement, yet they remain confident about their retirement prospects, with one-third saying they believe they will have money from an employer. What explains this attitude?

DLS: We are clearly a nation of optimists, and people believe that they can just keep working if they need money. The survey finds that for retirees the primary source of income is Social Security. Most workers say that will not be the case for them, but if they don't start saving soon it will be.

Q: We can't ignore the fact that, as a nation, we lack fiscal discipline. In fact, many Americans overspend throughout their lives. How can we expect people's attitudes to change when it comes to saving for retirement?

DLS: We are in our seventh year of running ChoosetoSave® public service announcements around the nation on radio and television. Tens of thousands have run. Competing against those announcements are the large number of ads that tell you how you can buy with credit and focus on just the monthly payment, not the full cost. Zero down mortgages are another example. We practically beg people to build debt and to spend more than they can truly afford. As long as that is the approach the nation takes, it is hard to blame individuals for not saving enough.

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