Retirement (false) Confidence

Retirement (false) Confidence

July 29, 2022

“Yes, I plan on doing that soon.”  Or “I’ve been meaning to do that, just been really busy lately…but I’ll get to it.”  Have you ever heard someone say those words before? Maybe even someone you know – intimately?  Human nature tells us that we all have good intentions, but when it comes to planning – and specifically to this little essay –retirement planning, good intentions do not get the average worker to a comfortable retirement.  Said another way - what we say and what we do, can be worlds apart.

Now, before you send me your “thoughts” on this statement - let me explain, because unlike many financial journalists – I have facts to back it up.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) provides the longest running study on Retirement Readiness in America – it is called Retirement Confidence Survey, which is now in its thirty-second (32) year. So, what does the survey provide? 

Below is from its site – the Institute’s words, not mine:

The Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) gauges the views and attitudes of working-age and retired Americans regarding retirement, their preparations for retirement, their confidence with regard to various aspects of retirement, and related issues. The RCS is the longest-running survey of its kind and is conducted annually by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and the independent research firm Greenwald & Associates.  The 2022 survey of 2,677 Americans was conducted online January 4 through January 26, 2022. All respondents were age 25 or older. The survey included 1,545 workers and 1,132 retirees.

Now that we have that out of the way, the data in the survey I will address specifically is called Preparing for Retirement in America.  Although I am not going to get into the weeds on all of Human Nature’s behavioral shortcuts that continue to plague the average investor (you can read these in detail in my book, Unpack Your Financial Baggage – yes, shameless plug), there are two sayings that sum up what I will reveal:

  1. A rising tide lifts all ships…and
  2. When the tide goes out, you find out who was swimming without shorts.

First – what they say.  According to the survey, when asked, nearly three-quarters (73%) of American workers feel confident in their ability to live comfortably in retirement.  Did you pick up the two critical words here – “feel confident?”  In addition, sixty-nine (69) percent feel confident they are doing a good job preparing for retirement.  This directly relates to the first saying above, as over time during the survey’s history, this confidence level rises when markets/economy are on the upswing.

Second – what they do.  The survey continues with another question- have you figured out how much you will need? Less than half the workers (46%) report they and/or their spouse have tried to calculate how much money they will need to have saved so that they can live comfortably in retirement.  Yes, you read that correctly, re-read it again and let it sink in.  This relates to the second saying above, as you delve into the details there is not an actual plan to get them to where they feel they are confidently headed, which is a retirement of lifetime bliss.

I can go on like this with more proof from the study, but I think I have proven my point and will spare you from more false confidence of the average worker in America. So, what is my primary message of this essay - not just to sarcastically point out the flaws in human nature?

Whether you are planning for your business’s growth or personal growth for your family’s longer-term lifetime income, confidence is critical but only if backed up by data-driven written plan.  Everything else is just false confidence.

Important Information


Advisory services are offered through Melone Private Wealth, LLC (“Melone Private Wealth”). Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Melone Private Wealth and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. For additional information, please visit our website at

The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute investment advice and it should not be relied on as such. It should not be considered a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell a security. It does not take into account any investor's particular investment objectives, strategies, tax status or investment horizon. You should consult your attorney or tax advisor.

Sources:  Employee Benefit Research Institute - 2022 Retirement Confidence Survey