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New AARP Study Shows Working Onondaga County Residents are Worried about Retirement Savings

John Smith, WAER News

A new AARP survey of about 800 residents in Onondaga County shows there is a growing concern if they’ll have enough money on hand to live comfortably when they retire.  The sampling of local working residents who are registered voters shows that 16 percent of Gen Xers, and 23 percent of Boomers don’t have access to retirement savings.  Even worse, AARP State Director Beth Finkel says about 3.5 million New Yorkers employed by private industry don’t have a defined benefits package or a 401K.

“We know that 70 percent of Gen Xers have told us right here in Onondaga County that they are very worried about being able to retire. Well, it does you no good to just sit and worry. You’re gonna have to take some action. What we’re looking at is… what are the options? What can the state do to help these people who have good reason to worry?”

So, people don’t fall through the cracks, AARP wants the State to create a state-facilitated retirement plan that would kick-in when employers don’t offer them.

“I think the most important piece is that it’s tied to the workplace. That people would have to either opt-out or opt-in. But, they’d have that conversation with their HR (human resources) people and really be able to understand what the difference would be if they did not save.”

Finkel says two states, Illinois and Washington, recently passed their own state-facilitated retirement plans and 14 others states are in the process of working on their own versions.  Local Financial Planner Chip Doolittle of Fayetteville, NY says high school should include a mandated curriculum of financial education. It involves asking a lot of questions…

 “What does a credit card do to you, really, if you just keep paying the minimums and keep using that card? What are the total costs of that original purchase? How does savings rates work? How does the simple concepts of investing in the stock market or not?

 Doolittle adds the education could also extend to adults who need to determine how much they spend. The personal budget questions are one of the first he asks of new clients to fill in the blanks before he begins the process of working out a savings plan.  For more details about AARP’s local survey click here.