Most Americans falling short of affording basic expenses in retirement: Fidelity
Retirement preparedness dropped below pre-pandemic levels as inflation chews away savings
Americans' retirement preparedness has dropped and a majority of U.S. adults are now projected to not be able to pay for basic essentials like housing and groceries in their golden years, according to the latest study from Fidelity Investments.
The investment giant's 2023 Retirement Savings Assessment released Tuesday shows the retirement score for the average American household has dropped into the "fair" range, with more than half of those surveyed, 52%, falling short of having enough savings to cover everyday essentials when they leave the workforce.
Fidelity found that more than a third of Americans, or 34%, will need to make "significant adjustments" in order to afford retirement, while 18% presently require moderate changes to save enough for the basics.
Another 16% are projected to be able to cover essential expenses, but not discretionary spending on items such as travel or entertainment.
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Some 32% of Americans today say they are on track to retire comfortably, down from 37% three years ago.
The score of 78 on Fidelity's retirement scale this year is a five-point drop from the study's record high of 83 reached in 2020. Looking back further, the score sat at 74 in 2013, rose to 76 in 2016 and hit 80 in 2018.
Rita Assaf, vice president of retirement at Fidelity, told FOX Business, "Encouragingly, even with this year’s dip, retirement preparedness has dramatically improved since the first study was conducted in 2006, when the score was 62."
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The data from the 2020 study was gathered prior to COVID-19 hitting, just before Americans bolstered their savings with pandemic-era cash from the federal government.
But since then, sky-high inflation has chewed away at Americans' nest eggs and made it more difficult to pay their bills, leading them into record credit card debt. With more savers focused on survival than retirement, long-term planning has taken a back seat.
"The reasons behind this drop in retirement preparedness vary with each unique situation, but it can largely be boiled down to two primary factors: people are investing more conservatively, and many Americans are actually saving less," Assaf explained.
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Fidelity's research indicates people can significantly improve their retirement readiness by doing just one of three things: Saving as much as possible, examining their asset mix, and re-evaluating their retirement plan.