Retirement’s Biggest Enemy? Procrastination

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
Abraham Lincoln

I thought some words of wisdom from our 16th president were in order given the following article from The Street about our inability to overcome the procrastination bug when it comes to retirement. The telling statistic – while 59% set the goal to save for retirement in 2015, less than a third of those people achieved it.

A great cure for the procrastination bug is planning. In fact, as we learned in last week’s post, people with a plan are 50% more likely to say they are saving enough for retirement.

Bottom line, as the old saying goes – don’t delay, start today!


By Brian O’Connell

When it comes to retirement savings, way too many Americans can't overcome the hurdle of procrastination.

It's all about setting goals and not meeting them, retirement savings-wise, and that credibility gap is going to take a big financial toll on kick-the-can-down-the-road long- term savers.

A majority (59%) of Americans set a 2015 goal to save for retirement, but so far this year, less than one-third (31%) achieved that goal, according to a new survey released today by Bank of America and Merrill Edge.

As usual, the primary challenge for U.S. retirement savers is their own questionable tactics for managing their household assets and steering those assets towards long-term savings.

According to the latest Merrill Edge Report, a survey of more than 1,000 Americans with investable assets of $50,000 to $250,000, just flat-out bad money decisions are leaving Americans short-handed on retirement savings. "External economic pressures and debt they deem worthwhile, such as home or car debt, may be to blame for derailing financial goals, and that people with the most time to save seem to be the most impacted," the report states.

That's just for starters; there's plenty more bad news across the board on the U.S. retirement front:

- Throughout 2015, only 27% of Millennials have been able to save for retirement.

- Americans "admit" their finances could have been in better shape recently, as 36% of respondents state "they wish they had stuck more to a budget in the last five years."

-Just 38% of Americans have paid down debt thus far in 2015, despite 51% of them setting a goal to do so.

"Year over year, we continue to see financial regrets surrounding extraneous spending, particularly with the youngest generations, and it's visibly impacting their ability to pursue long-term financial goals," notes Aron Levine, head of Merrill Edge at Bank of America. "The good news is we're seeing increased optimism heading into 2016 with a focus on saving and investing, including a decrease in overall spending and an increasing reluctance to borrow from retirement funds."

Your best move to make up ground after procrastinating on retirement savings is to consult with a financial professional, save money, steer those savings into your long-term savings fund and take full advantage of tax-advantaged retirement funds like IRAs and 401(k)s. Do that, and your situation will improve.