SEATTLE - The economy is changing the way people in middle age think of retirement - including whether they think retirement is even possible. That's the finding of a new survey
from AARP that labels 50- to 64-year-olds the "most politically and economically anxious voters."
Seventy-two percent say they probably will have to delay retirement, and 59 percent fear they will have to rely more heavily on Social Security and Medicare. Ingrid McDonald, advocacy director for AARP Washington, says they are likely to take out their frustrations at the ballot box.
"We know from a lot of data that older voters vote in higher numbers than younger folks. And one of the key criteria in terms of evaluating our candidates for Congress, as well as the presidential candidates, is what they'll do about the future of Medicare and Social Security."
The survey, called the "Anxiety Index," canvassed 1,852 people. Only one-third of those over age 50 are concerned about finding or creating jobs. Instead, their top worries center around other aspects of financial security, such as inflation, taxes and health care costs.
Sixty-five percent say they doubt they will be able to live comfortably in retirement. Seattle retirement educator and author Andy Landis says if that is really the case, one way to make it less stressful is to face it head-on.
"If you've got anxiety about retirement money, first of all, let's get clarity. Sit down with one of those simulators or with a financial planner and let's see where we stand. How far apart are we from the numbers we need to make ends meet?"
Working even just a few more years can make a big difference in savings and benefits, says Landis. He also suggests trying to live for one year on your estimated retirement income.
"If you can live on less money now, it's just going to make your retirement that much more comfortable later. A huge strategy is not just to increase your work years, but cut your expenses now. You might have to in retirement anyway - if you do it now, retirement will be better."
Landis reminds clients in his "Thinking Retirement" workshops that even in the darkest financial times, people have still managed to retire.
The survey is online at www.aarp.org