Data and Research

Setting Goals Improves Retirement Savings

Research finds that participants who set goals are more likely to save more for retirement and more likely to feel confident about retirement—even in the face of competing priorities.

By Rebecca Moore editors@strategic-i.com | October 16, 2017

Lincoln Financial Group asked retirement plan participants how much they would need to save to be on track for retirement and compared that figure to the amount they are actually saving. The result: 60% of participants aren’t saving as much as they think they need to save.

Among participants who are saving less than they think they need, the top two reasons they aren’t saving more are “can’t afford to save more” and “have other financial goals that are more important,” according to Lincoln’s Retirement Power Participant Study. These findings highlight a need for broader goal setting to address how much to save (which many participants already understand) and how to save more, while meeting other financial responsibilities and priorities, the firm says.

The research finds that participants who set goals are more likely to save more for retirement and more likely to feel confident about retirement—even in the face of competing priorities. The median deferral rate for participants who set a specific goal for how much they want to save for retirement this year is 12%, which is twice as high as the deferral rate among participants who have no goal for how much they want to save for retirement this year (6%).

Even when participants set a goal for one of their competing priorities, the study still finds a connection between goal-setting and higher retirement savings rates. Among participants who set a specific goal for how much debt they want to pay off this year, the median retirement savings rate is 10%, compared to 7% among those with no goal for how much debt they want to pay off this year.

In the spirit of National Retirement Security Week (October 15 to 21), Lincoln is encouraging participants to set a goal.