Americans Split on Biggest Concern in Retirement: Running out of Time vs. Running out Money

New TIAA survey identifies roadblocks and potential solutions

NEW YORK, October 27, 2021 – Nearly half of working Americans worry about running out of money in retirement (45%), while the rest (55%) say running out of time to do what they want in retirement is a bigger concern, according to TIAA's 2021 Lifetime Income SurveyOpens pdf.

"Retirement can evoke many conflicting emotions," said Doug Chittenden, head of Client Relationships at TIAA. "Feelings of excitement and celebrating a successful career can be married with the genuine anxiety of outliving your savings or concern about not having enough time to do everything you've dreamed about. Creating a retirement plan that includes guaranteed lifetime income can offer the freedom to enjoy retirement and give you peace of mind."

The 2021 TIAA Lifetime Income Survey was fielded using an online survey of 1,001 working American Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers. Additional findings are available hereOpens pdf.

Achieving financial confidence in retirement

While a little more than half of working Americans think they are on track with their savings to retire when they want, only 42% are highly confident they will have enough in retirement savings to fund a 20-year retirement. This falls to 32% when looking at a retirement of 30 or more years.

The survey found that those who have guaranteed lifetime income through an annuity feel they will be financially secure in retirement (83%). They are also significantly more confident that their savings will last: 64% of those with guaranteed lifetime income are confident that their savings will last through a 30+ year retirement.

About 7 in 10 believe having guaranteed lifetime income provides certainty around essential expenses, allows for spending flexibility, and makes knowing how much to save easier. Six in 10 agree it is difficult to know how much income they will earn from the stock market, and two-thirds believe that guaranteed lifetime income can protect against this volatility.

Roadblocks to readiness and simple fixes

Contributing a portion of your savings to TIAA Traditional consistently over a working career can significantly increase payments in retirement vs. contributing a lump sum at the point of retirement.1 However, the survey identified numerous roadblocks to saving more for retirement, such as the 30% of respondents who said the pandemic had harmed their financial health.

Almost half of workers (45%), and 66% of Millennials, believe if they simply had help creating and managing a budget, they could save more for retirement.

Meeting with a financial advisor is a great first step to tackle goals to help achieve financial confidence. A financial advisor can help create a budget while also focusing on long-term goals like retirement planning.

Along with matching a portion of an employee’s contributions into a retirement plan, employers also often offer financial planning and education through third parties.

About TIAA

TIAA is a leading provider of secure retirements and outcome-focused investment solutions to millions of people and thousands of institutions. It is the #1 not-for-profit retirement market provider,2 paid more than $3.6 billion to retired clients in 2020 and has $1.3 trillion in assets under management (as of 6/30/2021).3

Press contact

Elizabeth Anderson
media@tiaa.orgOpens Email

Source: TIAA Annuity Center of Excellence, based on a study that compared the amount of initial lifetime income that would have been received by two hypothetical participants beginning lifetime income, for each of the 334 months from January 1, 1994, through October 1, 2021. The two hypothetical participants are the same age (age 67) and they select a single-life annuity with a 10-year guarantee period using TIAA's standard payout annuity. The career contributor made level monthly contributions to TIAA Traditional under the Retirement Annuity Contract over a 30-year career prior to their retirement date. The new contributor transferred the same final accumulation as the career contributor to TIAA Traditional shortly before selecting lifetime income. Over the study period, the career contributor’s initial lifetime income exceeded that of the new contributor in 324 of the 334 retirement months, with an average lifetime income advantage of 14.5%. Their biggest advantage was 29.8% and their smallest advantage was -2.9% (i.e,. a disadvantage). Over the study's most recent decade, the career contributor's initial lifetime income exceeded that of the new contributor in all 120 retirement months, with an average lifetime income advantage of 22.4%. Their biggest advantage was 29.8% and their smallest advantage was 12.8%. In the study’s most recent month, the career contributor's initial lifetime income exceeded that of the new contributor by 17.6%.

Based on data from 56 providers in PLANSPONSOR magazine's 2019 DC Recordkeeping Survey, combined 457, 403(b) and money purchase plan data as of December 31, 2018.

Based on approximately $1.3 trillion of assets under management across Nuveen affiliates and TIAA investment management teams as of 6/30/2021.

This material is for informational or educational purposes only and does not constitute fiduciary investment advice under ERISA, a securities recommendation under all securities laws, or an insurance product recommendation under state insurance laws or regulations. This material does not take into account any specific objectives or circumstances of any particular investor, or suggest any specific course of action. Investment decisions should be made based on the investor's own objectives and circumstances.

Annuity account options are available through contracts issued by TIAA or CREF. These contracts are designed for retirement or other long-term goals, and offer a variety of income options, including lifetime income. Payments from the variable annuity accounts are not guaranteed and will rise or fall based on investment performance.

You should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing. Please call 877-518-9161 or go to for current product and fund prospectuses that contain this and other information. Please read the prospectuses carefully before investing.

Investment, insurance and annuity products are not FDIC insured, are not bank guaranteed, are not deposits, are not insured by any federal government agency, are not a condition to any banking service or activity, and may lose value.

Any guarantees under annuities issued by TIAA are subject to TIAA's claims-paying ability.

TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, Member FINRA, distributes securities products. Annuity contracts and certificates are issued by Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) and College Retirement Equities Fund (CREF), New York, NY. Each is solely responsible for its own financial condition and contractual obligations.

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