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Encore
A blog about living in and planning for retirement

You vs. the Joneses: Site Shows How Your Nest Egg Measures Up

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We all like to see how we stack up.

If you’re wondering how the heck anyone in your boat – same income, age, and so forth – manages to save for retirement, go to INGCompareMe.com, an Internet tool into which you (anonymously) enter information about your household income, savings, mortgage payments and other financials, and find out how you’re doing versus people with the same profile.

More than 1 million visitors have gone to the site since ING U.S., part of Dutch financial giant ING Groep NV, launched it in early 2009, says spokesman Joseph Loparco.

First, you create a profile by entering your age, income, gender and marital status, then go on to add optional details if you like, such as hobbies and interests. From there, you answer personal-finance questions to find out instantly how you compare to your peers. You don’t type in any identification information, however.

When you start, you’ll see the precise number of people in your shoes. (For example, there were 325 people who were my age, in the same income bracket, female and married.)

The best way to describe this tool may be non-judgmental. It doesn’t tell you whether what you’re doing is good or bad, but it does give you a sense of whether you’re in line with other folks. In my case, it was encouraging to see that my husband and I are stellar retirement savers. But it was worrisome to see how much credit-card and car-loan debt is typical among our peers.

And it was depressing to see that a move to New York three years ago left us owing much more on our mortgage than other similarly situated families.

Finally, it was alarming to see how much less life insurance we have than all these people who have more debt. Whoops – time to fix that.

That’s exactly what the tool is designed to do – provide users an objective way to gauge their financial status, with the end goal of nudging them into action. If you find that you’re saving less in your workplace retirement plan than people like you, it might just prod you into saving more.

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About Encore

  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.