Competing with our peers is instinctive. [Hint: If you are a fellow Lutheran, "coveting" is a ninth and tenth Commandment issue.]
If the neighbors have an expensive car, we want a more expensive car. If the neighbors just went on a luxurious vacation, we want to go on a more luxurious vacation. And, according to a new survey from ING Retirement Research Institute, if the neighbors have a healthy retirement savings, we want a healthier retirement savings.
This new survey shows people not only upgrade cars and vacations to keep up with peers, they also increase retirement savings to compete with the savings of their peers. In fact, more than half of the survey participants said they would save more for retirement if their current savings wasn't on par with those of their peers. What's more, the survey revealed that folks used the size of their retirement savings more so than material possessions and salary when gauging themselves against others.
Perhaps because it's not exactly polite to ask your neighbor how much he has saved for retirement, websites like INGCompareMe.com and ING State of Savings Map offer interactive tools that let consumers compare their retirement savings, debt levels and spending habits to their peers to gauge where they stand.
For a more detailed analysis of the survey, see "ING U.S. Study Sheds Light on Peer Comparison and the Retirement ‘State of Savings’ in America" or review the "Shedding Light on Retirement" White Paper released by the ING Retirement Research Institute here.
Reference: ING (December 5, 2012) "ING U.S. Study Sheds Light on Peer Comparison and the Retirement ‘State of Savings’ in America"