Five years after the peak of the recession, Americans still have considerable ground to cover in rebuilding their finances — especially when it comes to their retirement savings.
More than 58% of savers say they feel unprepared for retirement, according to the latest Retirement Mindscape report by Transamerica, which has been surveying the 30 largest metro areas in the country since 2010.
We could focus on the negative here, but that doesn’t necessarily help anyone. So we decided to flip the script and look at the 42% of Americans who ARE on track for retirement to find out what they’re doing right.
Transamerica rated each of the 30 metros based on a number of factors, such as whether workers use a financial advisor, how positive they feel about reaching their retirement goals, and how much savings they think they’ll need to live comfortably in their golden years.
2012 rank: #15
St. Louis may have earned a spot in the top 10 this year, but its residents aren't exactly A students when it comes to retirement planning.
A meager 7% of locals say they've developed a written financial plan -- the fewest number in the survey's four years. That's four points lower than the national average.
However, they are at least contributing toward their goals. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they're contributing to a retirement account and about half say they're on track for retirement.
2012 rank: #25
Call Baltimore the comeback kid. The city shot up 17 spots to break the top 10 for the first time since 2010.
The biggest difference has been in locals' confidence levels, even in spite of lackluster preparation levels. In 2012, the city fell to the bottom of the pack in preparation, but managed to work its way to the middle this year.
More Baltimore residents this year say they feel on track for retirement (48% vs. 35% in 2011 and 2010) and believe that they will achieve their goals in retirement (25% vs. 20% in 2012).
2012 rank: #2
San Diego may be No. 6 overall but the city claimed the highest scores for retirement preparedness this year.
Nearly 80% of locals say they've started planning for retirement and more than half contribute regularly to a retirement account either through work or on their own.
As a result, two-thirds say they're feeling pretty positive about their golden years.
2012 rank: #13
For what they lack in retirement preparation, Seattle residents make up for in sheer optimism.
The city earned the No. 5 spot this year with only 16% of residents saying they feel negatively about retirement and 10% who said they're anxious.
But just 31% of Seattle savers have figured out how much money they'll need saved for retirement and a meager 16% actually have a written financial plan.
2012 rank: #1
Though it was knocked off its throne this year, Hartford is still one of only two cities (San Diego shares the honour) to remain in the top 10 since the survey began in 2010. Considering its wealth of well-heeled residents, it's no surprise that Hartford is very financial advisor-friendly. A whopping 40% of locals have one, and nearly 80% say they've done at least some retirement planning.
But from the looks of the survey, they're going into planning a bit blind -- only 23% have done the maths to figure out how much monthly income they'll need in retirement, an 11% drop since 2010.
2012 rank: #17
You read that right. Detroit.
Though this survey was conducted just before the Motor City declared bankruptcy, residents may have taken their city's storied history of financial woes to heart and decided to batten down the hatches. As a whole, the city made quite the leap on this year's list, beating the nation in financial advisor use (38% vs. 29%) and contributions to retirement accounts outside of their 401(k) plans (56%).
The city is also one of the most optimistic about achieving retirement goals, with nearly three-quarters of respondents saying they're on track.
Still, the reality for many Detroit savers is that they're still struggling to recover losses from the recession. Half said their portfolios haven't bounced back from the market low in 2008 and one-in-five admitted to dipping into their 401(k)s to make ends meet.
2012 rank: #4
San Francisco may be one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. but its residents are clearly not letting that get in the way of their nest eggs.
More than three-quarters of Bay area residents say they've already started preparing for retirement, slightly higher than the national average. Since 2010, they've only gotten more optimistic about achieving their goals, with 35% of respondents saying they're confident now versus 20% then.
But it's not all rosy out West: 'One concerning trend in San Francisco is that residents, on average, estimate needing far less in savings to retire with confidence than average Americans (who estimate needing about $US500,000 (the median amount cited) to retire confidently),' the report says.
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