Forty-four percent of retired Americans admit to supporting at least one individual financially, according to a new survey by Charles Schwab.

Children (53 percent) and grandchildren (37 percent) top the list of such dependents. An additional 12 percent are contributing to their parents’ finances.

“Whether it’s their children, grandchildren or their own parents, more and more retirees are finding themselves supporting family members and, simultaneously, witnessing portions of their hard-earned savings disappear,” said Schwab vice president Mark Jamison in a statement.

Forty-four percent of retired respondents reported that an unsteady economy has made them more frugal with their spending in the past six months. Those still working have an eye on this approach too. Approximately one third (37 percent) of Americans who have yet to retire predict that they will be spending more conservatively during their retirement than they originally planned, as a result of the economy’s fragile state.

Six million more women than men (44 million versus 38 million) are planning to become more mindful of their spending during their retirement than they might have been before encountering today’s unstable economy. The difference extends to current retirement savings. According to the survey, on average, men have secured more funds for their golden years than women ($247,000 vs. $180,000).

Another strategy to cope with tight purse strings is to simply stay in the workforce longer. Close to four in ten (35 percent) Americans who haven’t retired yet plan to delay their retirement. Similarly, some of those who have already retired say they wish they hadn’t stopped working so early. Nearly one in five (17 percent) retired Americans are considering returning to work, at least part-time, due to the economy.

The survey findings also show a consistent lack of savings among pre-retirees. The average amount of money respondents have put away for retirement is $219,000, far less than Schwab recommends they save.

President Obama proposed a series of changes over the weekend that would encourage more Americans to take advantage of retirement plans, including making it easier for small businesses to automatically enroll employees in 401(k) plans and increase the contribution levels in automatic enrollments (see Obama Aims to Increase Retirement Savings). The Treasury and the IRS have issued a summary of the retirement and savings initiatives, along with the relevant guidance. For more information, visit http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/se0909.pdf.

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