NEW YORK - Only half the affluent retirees Bank of America Merrill Lynch surveyed in December would save more, given the chance to prepare all over again, according to results released Thursday.
Just 49 percent of 1,000 people surveyed with $250,000 or more in investable assets would have given up more luxuries to boost their retirement savings, according to Merrill's Affluent Insights quarterly survey.
The rest said the opposite, that they would have focused less on how much they were saving and more on how their lifestyle goals and what it would cost to reach them.
Slightly more than half of respondents — 53 percent — are concerned they won't have enough money to last through retirement. But 56 percent saw positive aspects of the economic downturn, including an increased focus on the things like family and friends that matter the most.
The survey found the recession has led people to think more about the trade-offs their lifestyle choices require, said Any Seig, the bank's head of retirement and philanthropic services.
"The focus is less on the numbers and more around the qualitative aspects of things," Seig said.
Individuals who weren't ready to make trade-offs are doing it now, cutting luxuries, vacations and recreational activities, even reducing spending on energy, according to the survey.
Seig said fewer people expect to stop work completely once they reach retirement age.
"That's as modern as the leisure suit," he quipped.
While 95 percent were worried about the economy in Merrill's October survey, 84 percent remain highly concerned. For 56 percent, rising health care costs is the top issue.
"Affluent households are saying loud and clear that health care costs are a primary concern," said Seig.