Out of Control: Good Luck Saving for Retirement

Americans are feeling distinctly out of control when it comes to their efforts to maintain or build retirement savings.

Americans are feeling distinctly out of control when it comes to their efforts to maintain or build retirement savings, according to a Gallup poll. However, they’re feeling a little better than they were in September 2011, just after the peak of the debt ceiling crisis.

According to the survey, 57% of investors feel they have little or no control over their efforts to build and maintain retirement savings in the current environment. Broken down, 46% say they have a little control, while 11% believe they have no control at all. On the opposite side, only 13% think they have a great deal of control, while 30% said they have quite a lot of control.

The top reasons for why control over investments decreased over the last six months were cite unemployment and a weak economy; extreme volatility on Wall Street; a lack of national leadership; and the confrontational political stalemate in the nation’s capital.

However, the percent citing unemployment and a weak economy as a major factor has dropped significantly to 69% from February’s survey when 82% said it.

According to Gallup, investor optimism has declined from February to May 2012, driven by increased pessimism about the future course of the overall economy. However, 37% of investors do believe they are better off financially now than they were prior to the last presidential election. However, a close 35% say they are worse off.

The Gallup survey was taken at the beginning of May, when the May swoon on Wall Street was just getting underway, so investor sentiment might actually be worse than it was when the survey was taken. Also, the European financial crisis has probably risen in investor worries, according to Gallup.

But, overall, in order to gain a little more control, investors should develop a financial plan that also has contingencies, in addition to goals and targets.

“Among investors with a written financial plan having specific goals or targets, the poll shows 80% of non-retirees and 88% of retirees say their plan gives them confidence they can achieve their future financial goals,” according to Gallup. “Quality financial planning is even more important when the investment environment is as chaotic as it has been in recent weeks and months.”

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