Americans appear to be getting smarter about their retirement savings, with more rolling their retirement funds into another tax-friendly plan when they leave their job rather than spending the cash.
About 43 percent of people who received a retirement-plan distribution from a workplace plan through 2003 rolled their money into another tax-qualified plan, such as an individual retirement account or another employer plan - thus avoiding an immediate tax hit - up from 19 percent who did so 10 years earlier, according to a new report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group.
Meanwhile, 15 percent of savers cashed out their lump sum to buy consumer goods such as a new car or to pay for everyday expenses, down from about 23 percent of savers who did that with their distributions through 1993, the study found.
It's likely that savers understand their retirement plans better, said Craig Copeland, a senior research associate with EBRI and author of the report. But companies have also gotten better at marketing rollover products, he noted.