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Not Making the Grade: 2013 Survey Of Financial Decisions Among Washington State Adults Ages 45-64

Washington state boomers are anxious about their retirement years. Many are ill-prepared and struggling to make the grade. Washington State boomers (age 45-64) are worried about their financial future. 

Key findings include:

  • Over half of respondents (56%) are very or somewhat anxious when thinking about their finances in the future. Women are more anxious (64%) than men (48%).
  • A quarter of respondents (24%) or approximately 462,000 Washingtonians between 45-64, have less than $25,000 in savings.
  • Most respondents (81%) wish they would have saved more for their retirement years. 
  • More than half (52%) gave themselves a “C” or lower grade when asked to grade how well they are preparing for their retirement years. 
  • Only half (51%) of respondents have completed a calculation to determine a specific amount of money they will need to save for retirement. 
  • The majority (80%) of respondents who wish they had saved more say the lack of extra money is the top reason for not saving for retirement. Respondents report having a hard time cutting their spending and many have experienced aggressive marketplace practices that promote spending. 
  • The majority of respondents tried very (35%) or somewhat (40%) hard to cut spending. Of those who tried very hard, less than half (44%) cut their spending a great deal. 
  • The majority of respondents (84%) have received an offer with incentives to buy products and services in the past six months. Just under one-third (29%) accepted at least one offer. About three-quarters (76%) of those who accepted an incentive offer to spend would accept it again. The majority of respondents report having to exercise willpower daily, which research has shown can lead to poor decision making.
  • Most respondents (80%) had to exercise willpower in the last 24 hours for at least one of the six situations asked about in the survey. The most common situations were resisting unhealthy food and drinks (47%), resisting putting off doing an unpleasant ask (42%), followed by having to make a number of decisions in a short period of time (35%). 
  • Respondents underestimated the time each day they spent resisting some sort of unwanted temptation. On average, they estimated spending 16 minutes resisting unwanted temptations daily; some research suggests that the average person spends as many as 3 hours a day resisting some sort of unwanted temptation. 

The AARP Financial Decisions Survey was conducted as a telephone survey among 45-64 year old residents in the state of Washington. The interviews were conducted in English by Precision Opinion from February 4 to February 9, 2013. For more information about this survey, please contact Brittne Nelson at 202.434.6307 or e-mail