For most retired Americans, many of whom retired as long ago as the last century, guaranteed income still covers more than half of their total monthly spending.

Source: Retirees relying on 401(k) income face retirement challenges

(Also see the two posts on over saving for retirement, in the right most column of this page.)

But those retiring more recently did not have access to pensions – and have had to save for their own retirement.

This is a big change – pensions gave way to IRA and 401(k) retirement savings programs. Newer retirees must now manage their resources carefully to live out their lives.

Whether you have a pension – or did not – also influences your approach to life well before retirement. As someone without future pension or health care coverage, I became an excessive saver and investor, did my own car and home repairs and rarely went out to eat at a restaurant (as a few examples).

By comparison, I know some who had guaranteed future pensions who viewed “money is for spending” and did not do intensive saving. Instead, they enjoyed life because their future retirement included hefty pension payments and partially funded health care in retirement. They did not need to save for the future with the intensity of many others.

More than a decade ago, a newspaper in my state compared public sector employment with private sector employment. The major difference between the two was that public sector workers had pension programs and most private sector workers do not have pension programs.

They said the value of the public sector pension for the “average” worker (and this is more than a decade ago) was equal to a private sector worker having saved about $1.6 million at time of retirement.

(I tried to find that old news report but was unable to locate it.)