Retirement Plagued by Fear of the Golden Years

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Uncertain markets, lack of once-reliable retirement income and questions about savings have many fearing outliving their money in their golden years — even more than death.

That's according to a new survey by the Allianz Life Insurance Company, which found 61% of those surveyed said they were more scared of outliving their assets than they were of dying. The numbers got even higher when looking at those between the ages of 44 and 49, where 77% said they feared outliving their retirement money more, and that number rose to 82% for those in their late 40s who had dependents.

"Planning is key," said Katie Libbe, vice president of consumer insight at Allianz. Libbe said two out of five people retire before they had planned, leaving many short. She said those planning to keep the same lifestyle in retirement must carefully watch savings and investments, and appropriately managing risk when necessary.

"It can be difficult," she said. "You want to manage your downside, but you don't want to limit your upside too much."

Libbe said a good rule of thumb is to stress upside more when you're younger — as you can ride out a bad market if one hits. However, when you are between five and 10 years away from retirement, you want to start to limit your risk.

"I think a lot of people learned a lot from 2008," Libbe said. "At 40 you should be aggressive, but come 50 or 55, you have to start protecting around your assets."

The research found the economic downturn that started in 2008 did indeed cause a major shift in the financial behaviors of many Americans. More than half of those who responded said their net worth dropped significantly in a very short period of time, with 43% saying their home value dropped and 41% saying they realized they were not as "in control" of their financial future as they had thought.