Boomers' Catch-22: Optimistic about Retirement but Not Well-Prepared -- Thrivent Financial report reveals gap between expectations and retirement readiness

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Over the next 20 years, 76 million baby boomers are set to retire. And while they are generally optimistic about retirement, their lack of financial preparedness suggests a possible future not necessarily as bright as they hope.

And the planning process will likely uncover some obvious solutions -- saving more and possibly working longer.

    In the report Baby Boomers and Retirement: A Generation's Catch-22, which is based on Thrivent Financial's nationwide survey of 2,500 baby boomers, several paradoxical themes emerged:

-- While boomers are generally optimistic about retirement, only 20 percent believe they will worry less about money than their parents.

-- Seventy-one percent of boomers cite a lack of money as the single greatest issue that might prevent them from accomplishing their envisioned retirement, yet most (59 percent) have not done any formal retirement planning.

-- While 86 percent stated they would advise younger generations to start saving for retirement as soon as possible, nearly a quarter have not taken action toward saving for their own retirement.

The report found 56 percent believe they will have the same or better standard of living in retirement than their parents, which is similar to findings in the 2007 Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Mathew Greenwald & Associates. That survey found Americans generally confident they will live comfortably throughout their retirement years.

Retirement readiness lacking

The reality of boomers' retirement preparedness is quite different. The Thrivent Financial report found only 16 percent had started the retirement planning process with an advisor. One in four (24 percent) hadn't begun saving for retirement, and one in five (19 percent) didn't start until they were at least 45 years old. While lack of money was boomers' single greatest concern at 71 percent, the second-highest concern -- health problems -- garnered only 13 percent.

Similar conclusions are found in other research. The 2006 National Retirement Risk Index, developed by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, found almost 45 percent of working-age households are "at risk" of being unable to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living.

While the challenges are formidable, a comfortable retirement is not out of reach. "Planning is key," said Pam Moret, Thrivent Financial executive vice president of marketing and products. "And the planning process will likely uncover some obvious solutions -- saving more and possibly working longer."

About the Thrivent Financial Retirement Survey

Data for this survey were collected by the Harris Interactive Service Bureau (HISB) on behalf of Action Marketing Research. HISB was responsible for collection of the online data and demographic weighting only. Action Marketing Research was responsible for the survey design and was solely responsible for data analysis. HISB collected data September 26 to October 7, 2006 among a nationwide cross section of 2,500 U.S. adults age 45 to 64 of whom 1,213 were men and 1,287 were women.

About Thrivent Financial for Lutherans

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is a Fortune 500 financial services membership organization helping nearly 3 million members achieve their financial goals and give back to their communities. Thrivent Financial and its affiliates offer a broad range of financial products and services including life insurance, annuities, mutual funds, disability income insurance, bank products and more. As a not-for-profit organization, Thrivent Financial sponsors national outreach programs and activities that support congregations, schools, charitable organizations and individuals in need. For more information, visit http://www.thrivent.com.

Securities are offered through Thrivent Investment Management Inc., 625 Fourth Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55415-1665, 800-THRIVENT (800-847-4836) a wholly owned subsidiary of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Member NASD. Member SIPC.

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Brant Skogrand
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