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Survey: What is New Jersey residents' biggest fear?

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Watch out, weight gain. New Jerseyans have even bigger fears than expanding waistlines, according to a recent Merrill Edge survey. Being affluent doesn't keep New Jersey residents from having concerns, either, a survey found — and the biggest one is tied to their retirement.

Merrill Edge asked New Jerseyans and other Americans who have between $50,000 and $250,000 in total household investable assets about their fears. The No. 1 answer? Two-thirds of New Jersey residents are most concerned with running out of money in retirement. While that was Americans’ top fear, as well, New Jersey exceeded the national average by 12 percentage points, 67 to 55 percent.

“We are all living a lot longer in retirement, so we all have to plan for that long life that we have,” said Ernesto Marques, financial solutions advisor with Merrill Edge in New Jersey. Marques said retirees need to consider that they may live 25 to 30 years after they stop working — a comparatively long time to have to fund. “The report shed light on the fact that New Jersey residents are a little bit more concerned about retirement and not having enough money.”

An interesting finding, however, is that New Jerseyans are doing a lot more than their fellow Americans to alleviate their concerns. The report found that 62 percent of Garden State residents are prioritizing saving for the future, compared with just 48 percent nationwide.

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Marques said those surveyed are weighing “conflicting responses” such as retirement planning versus children’s college tuition or even helping parents save for retirement.

“It all comes down to setting a plan in place so they figure out for themselves what is more important for them,” he said. “And then, when they identify those priorities, trying to put it down on paper.”

Starting to save early can be one key to success, and that is something Merrill Edge found is occurring more often.

“One of the surprises I found in the report is that people are starting a lot younger putting money aside for retirement,” Marques said. He added that millennials — ages 18 to 34 —  are responding to the increased availability of retirement plans such as 401(k)s and beginning their planning sooner than previous generations.


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