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The Biggest Retirement Fear: Outliving My Money


The biggest retirement fear in Transamerica’s 2021 Retirement Survey is “outliving my savings and investments.” 

From the youngest to the oldest American workers – GenZ to Baby Boomers – their greatest fear about retirement is ‘’outliving my savings and investments.’’ That’s according to Transamerica’s 2021 Retirement Survey, where 42% of respondents picked that as their biggest worry, outweighing concerns about physical or mental decline.1Those closest to retirement, who are likely confronting the full cost of a long stretch outside of work, showed more concern about depleting their nest egg than younger workers. Nearly half of the GenX (age 41-56) and Baby Boomers generations – 46% – cited it as their greatest fear.

For younger workers, a lack of confidence in Social Security as a safety net helped fuel their fear of becoming destitute in retirement. 70% of GenZ and 77% of Millennials agreed that ‘’when I’m ready to retire, Social Security will not be there for me.’’ 

(related Big Numbers: Many GenXers Agree: It’ll Take a Miracle to Have a Secure Retirement, Americans Seek Advice Amid Social Security’s Financial Stress) 

A lack of investment knowledge can also be part of what makes the future scary. 62% of those surveyed said they had little to no understanding of asset allocation principles as it relates to investing for retirement.

The fear of outliving your money is a concern that resonates with Horizon Investments, a goals-based investment manager that creates strategies that aim to meet the needs and address the risks people face in the accumulation, preservation, and distribution stages of an investment journey.

(Read Horizon’s Redefining Risk paper to understand our goals-based investing philosophy)

Horizon has long identified the primary risk for retirees as longevity, given the twin pressures of people living longer and healthier lives, and the puny yields currently found in fixed-income markets.

Regrettably, the traditional financial advice to add more exposure to bonds as someone gets older may no longer be sufficient if the aim is to produce a financially secure retirement. 

(related Big Number: Are Glide Path Strategies Still a Good Option for Retirement?)

Horizon Investments believes inflation-adjusted, fixed-income returns will likely be meager in the years ahead. The starting level of yields on fixed-income have historically been a good predictor of future returns. After 40 years of falling yields, there is much less room for a continued decline. Simply put, today’s low yields are likely to limit the potential future returns of bonds. And even if the Federal Reserve decides to raise rates in 2022 or 2023, we believe those invested too heavily in fixed income could struggle to generate interest income if rates remain at historically low levels.

Related Big Number reports and research papers: 

Horizon Investments’ Real Spend® retirement income strategy was designed to address the fear of running out of money. It combines a spending reserve, a growth-seeking portfolio, and our Risk Assist® algorithm.

Real Spend® is designed to carry a greater exposure to equities than what is typically found in traditional retirement strategies with the aim of replenishing or growing a client’s assets over time.

Real Spend’s® equity allocation decisions, coupled with tactical risk mitigation, are designed with the goal of limiting a retiree’s investing risk in meeting their short- and long-term financial needs.

See our Real Spend® strategy and download our distribution stage brochure for further details about how advisors can help their clients tackle common retirement income challenges.

1Transamerica Retirement Survey,

This commentary is written by Horizon Investments’ asset management team. For additional commentary and media interviews, contact Chief Investment Officer Scott Ladner at 704-919-3602 or

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