Just five years after the onset of the financial crisis, Americans’ confidence about retirement is rising with the strengthening economy. According to the New Retirement Mindscape® 2013 City Pulse index, two in five (42%) Americans feel on track for retirement. This is more than last year (37%), and more than any other year since the index began in 2010.

Yet, the lack of action people are taking to prepare financially for retirement has remained relatively unchanged over the past few years. While nearly three in four (72%) have taken some action to prepare for retirement, this number is smaller than in 2011 and 2010 when the economic recovery was still unstable.

The annual New Retirement Mindscape City Pulse index examines the 30 U.S. Metropolitan areas. The index serves as a barometer for national and local retirement trends.

According to the index, nearly half (45%) of Americans think that healthcare expenses during retirement will be one of the most challenging financial issues. Likewise, two-thirds (68%) of Americans express concern about the pending changes due to the Affordable Care Act, and half (51%) of those concerned say that their top worry is that they will end up paying more for healthcare.

Of the 30 largest U.S. metro areas, San Francisco–Oakland–San Jose (#1), Detroit (#2) and Hartford-New Haven (#3) were the most confident and prepared. There are a few things that set these cities apart. If you’re preparing for retirement, take note of the following factors:

  • Contribute to retirement accounts beyond a workplace-sponsored plan. More residents than average in the top three cities contribute to IRAs or other personal investment accounts (other than or in addition to workplace-sponsored plans). Making regular financial contributions to these types of accounts and maintaining a diversified portfolio will likely make you feel more confident about life after you leave the workforce. You may also have more control over your personal accounts as you do in an employer-sponsored plan, and withdrawals typically carry fewer penalties — though it’s important to avoid withdrawing from you retirement savings accounts if possible.
  • Maintain positive feelings about retirement. Although the financial market fluctuates, you have control over how you respond to its ups and downs. Respondents in two of the top three cities were far more likely than the national average to say that thinking about retirement makes them feel empowered. Thinking positively about the future — and acting on those feelings by taking proactive steps to prepare — is key to helping build retirement confidence.
  • Consider working with a financial professional. Residents in two of the three most retirement-ready cities were more likely to work with a financial advisor. The national survey results uncovered that only one in four (23%) Americans say they have determined the amount of money they need to save for retirement and even fewer (11%) report having a written financial plan. A financial advisor can help you define and work toward your retirement goals.

Michael W. K. Yee at (808) 952-1222 ext. 1240

Michael W K Yee, CFP®, CFS®, CRPC®, is a Financial Advisor and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER practitioner™ with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. in Honolulu, HI. He specializes in fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been in practice for 25 years. To contact him, michael.w.yee@ampf.com, 808.952.1222 ext 1240, 1585 Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 1100 Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96814.
Advisor is licensed/registered to do business with U.S. residents only in the states of Honolulu, Hawai‘i.
1 The Money Across Generations IISM study was commissioned by Ameriprise Financial, Inc. and conducted by telephone by GfK in December 2011 among 1,006 affluent baby boomers (those with $100,000 or more in investable assets); 300 parents of baby boomers; and 300 children of baby boomers at least 18 years old. The margin of error is +/- three percentage points for the affluent boomers segment and +/- six percentage points for the parents and children of boomers segments.
2 United States Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, Family and Medical Leave Act http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/
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