This secure retirement index hits a 17-year high

Senior couple retirement

Despite recent market volatility, savers are feeling upbeat about their chances at a secure retirement.

Preliminary results show that this index, The University of Michigan’s “Change in the Likelihood of a Comfortable Retirement Compared with Five Years Ago,” hit a level of 109 in February.

January 2001 was the last time the index reached that level.

Supporting that positive outlook, a recent Fidelity Investments survey of more than 3,100 households showed that the typical saver is on track to have 80 percent of the income the financial services company estimates older Americans will need to cover expenses in retirement.

A combination of rising contribution rates and rising markets have buoyed investors’ sentiment and their balances.

The average 401(k) account at Fidelity hit $104,300 during the fourth quarter of 2017.

“For the average saver — regardless of age or income level — these findings demonstrate the positive impact of knowing where you stand and taking appropriate actions to get on the path to retirement readiness,” said Ken Hevert, senior vice president of retirement at Fidelity.

Keep at it

Enjoy this improvement in your retirement savings outlook, but don’t forget to keep on saving and investing.

The median savings rate in a retirement plan is now 8.8 percent of pay, up from 3.6 percent in 2006, according to Fidelity.

This is still far below Fidelity’s suggested savings rate of 15 percent of salary, including employer matches.

Though near-term market volatility may be enough to send investors to the exits, take the time to revisit your asset allocation and remind yourself of your long-term goals.

Avoid knee-jerk decisions when the market slips.

“If you have an investment allocation, you should design it to weather market conditions,” said Kate Stalter, president of Better Money Decisions in Sante Fe, New Mexico. “Volatility is a normal part of the market, and people forget it.”

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