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What are your plans for retirement? Most likely, they contain indulgences that you've dreamed about and worked for all your life – but will you have the financial means to achieve them? A new Ipsos/USA Today survey finds that future retirees between the ages of 45 and 65 are taking a hard look at the likelihood of making their retirement dreams come true, and many are considering downsizing those dreams.

The Great Recession is partly to blame, as many in the survey group have not fully recovered from its effects. Unemployment and underemployment, limited wage increases, and reduced nest eggs left survey respondents questioning their retirement prospects. While the stock market has recovered from the recession, other economic aspects remain troublesome – such as taxes, insurance costs, and health care uncertainty.

The survey found gaps between retirement goals and expectations. While 53% of survey respondents want to allocate less than 20% of their retirement outlays to basic living expenses, only 37% expect to hit that goal. Well over half (57%) of respondents expect to allocate between 20% and 60% of their expenses to meet basic needs, leaving less room for indulgences.

Travel plans are in equal jeopardy. Many people plan on taking trips in retirement that they simply don't have time and resources for in the working years. The vast majority of respondents (98%) spend 20% or less of their budgets for trips, but one-quarter of respondents plan to devote 21% to 40% of their retirement budgets to travel. Approximately half of that group (13% of all respondents) expects to meet that travel goal.

How about entertainment and dining out? A similar gap exists, with 18% of survey respondents wanting to allocate 21% to 40% of their budgets toward entertainment but only 9% of respondents expecting to do so.

Housing costs are typically less of an issue in retirement, but the housing crisis changed that for many survey respondents. Currently, 46% of respondents devote 20% or less of their budgets to housing costs. While 62% expect to be in the 20%-or-less group upon retirement, 77% of respondents would prefer to spend that lower amount on housing.

It's wise for near-future retirees to re-evaluate their plans regularly, especially if current retirement funds are sparse. Consider that a previous Ipsos/USA Today survey found that almost half of Americans between the ages of 45 and 65 have less than $100,000 in total retirement savings and investments – and a shocking 27% have no retirement funds at all. Social Security benefits can cover basic needs, but it's not possible to achieve any sort of retirement indulgences on Social Security alone.

Do you know if you are financially on track to meet your retirement goals? April Lewis-Parks, Director of Education and Public Relations at Consolidated Credit, suggests using online financial calculators and apps to assess your retirement readiness, and see the effect of adding an extra 1% or other increment to your retirement fund. "Once people are aware of how little changes have a huge impact, then they will start to make those changes," says Lewis-Parks. By running different scenarios, you can see whether your retirement dreams are within reach and what adjustments it will take to achieve them.

You can adjust your pre-retirement savings and spending plans to meet your retirement goals, or adjust your goals downward to meet plans that aren't producing sufficient results. That's your decision – but don't simply leave your retirement plans up to chance. Assess and adjust, and you are more likely to meet your retirement dreams, whatever they are.

Let the free Retirement Planner by MoneyTips help you calculate when you can retire without jeopardizing your lifestyle.


Photo ©iStockphoto.com/gradyreese

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