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Your Happy Retirement Is Probably About $250,000 Short

Tickers in this article: AMP

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Do you have a good grip on your retirement?

Be honest -- a really good grip?

Ameriprise Financial (AMP) , the Minneapolis-based financial services giant, doesn't think so. In fact, Ameriprise says there may be a significant "emotional disconnect" between your retirement goals and retirement reality.

The firm based its analysis on its Retirement Check-In Survey of 1,000 U.S. employees ages 50-70.

At first blush, Ameriprise says America has a good, healthy, positive mindset toward retirement. The firm says 78% of Americans expect to be "extremely happy." Ameriprise's data cite the belief among workers that they can look forward to ample free time with loved ones, the ability to travel the globe or spend quality time with favorite hobbies.

This is where that "disconnect" enters the picture. Ameriprise says that, on average, most Americans have a gap of $250,000 before they can retire in the relatively cushy lifestyle described above. Furthermore, 68% of U.S. workers say they plan on working in retirement.

"There seems to be a significant disconnect between the expectations that Americans have for their lifestyle in retirement and the financial steps they're taking -- or not taking -- to make those expectations a reality," says Suzanna de Baca, vice president of wealth strategies at Ameriprise Financial. "The good news is there are several things that most people are doing right, and there are steps that everyone can take to help build their financial readiness for retirement."

Does that disconnect apply to you? In large degrees, Ameriprise seems to think so. Let's take a look at the survey data to see where you might fit into the retirement picture and whether you're experiencing a "disconnect" too:

  • 46% believe they'll be able to pay for "essential" expenses in retirement, including housing, utilities and health care costs.
  • 36% believe they'll have enough money in retirement for travel and hobbies. (Compare that with the 78% who say they'll be "very happy" in retirement and the disconnect theory really begins to make sense.)
  • About 38% say they don't have an "accurate" understanding of expected retirement costs (i.e., basic living expenses and travel and hobby budgets). Common sense says that if you haven't broken out the calculator and hammered out a rough blueprint of expected living expenses after you leave the workforce, you just may have a retirement disconnect. ( has a great retirement planning calculator. Find it here.
  • Despite the vast majority of survey respondents who say they expect a pleasant, comfortable retirement, only 32% of workers believe they are saving enough for it. Ameriprise calls this uncertainty "troubling" for tens of millions of Americans.
  • Americans say they need almost $1 million saved for retirement, but most say they are nowhere that. On average, U.S. workers say they need to save another $250,000 for retirement, but, aside from counting on their home equity, have no idea how they'll save the money. Ameriprise calls that "surprising" given the anxious state of the U.S. housing market.