What has young and middle-aged workers most worried about their retirement prospects? Essentially, everything, according to a recent survey from T. Rowe Price (TROW) and Harris Interactive.
The survey's results show a wide array of frets people have about their financial futures -- everything from health care costs to tax rates to being able to afford to pay for a roof overhead.
The Biggest Fear: Health Care
The survey found that among investors age 21 to 50, more than three-quarters were concerned about health-care costs, and 58 percent pointed specifically to the costs of long-term care.
Citing a report from the Employee Benefits Research Institute, T. Rowe Price senior financial planner Stuart Ritter noted that "health care costs are the second-biggest expense for those aged 65 and older, behind housing, and it's the only spending category that steadily increases with age."
With Medicare projected to run out of money long before many of today's younger workers retire, trying to save enough to cover rising health-care costs is a huge burden.
Although health care worries are paramount, plenty of other concerns are on workers' minds.
More than half cited higher taxes, inflation, running out of money, housing, and Social Security as major potential problems. Just one in six expects to get full Social Security benefits, with more than a third believing that they'll get absolutely nothing from Social Security when they retire.
What You Can Do
Obviously, the ideal solution to retirement worries is to set as much money aside as you can. Ritter notes that Social Security's fragile condition "underscores the need for people to save at least 15 percent of their salary on their own, and consider Social Security to be only a complementary piece of their retirement income."
But saving more is just part of the equation.
Using protective strategies like long-term care insurance and immediate annuities can provide financial resources to fight rising health-care costs and reduce the risk of outliving your money. Using tax-favored accounts like IRAs and 401(k) plans can help you cut your current tax liability and manage taxes even after rates rise.
Retirement challenges aren't going away anytime soon. Planning for them is your best defense against those worries that keep you up at night.
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