Myth # 6: Retirement shortfall warning bells are waking up Americans.
Studies and reports regarding doomsday scenarios for Americans in retirement abound, most warning that we are not saving enough and need to make up for lost time. According to the Plan Sponsor Council of America, the country as a whole saved more in their 401(k)s last year—6.8 percent of their salary vs. 6.4 percent in 2011. Yet according to Wells Fargo, only 52 percent of Americans are confident they will have enough saved to retire.
More and more workers are aware of the grim outlook when it comes to actually attaining the "American retirement dream" of golfing in Florida and finally taking those once-in-a-lifetime trips abroad. So how come more Americans are not stepping up their game?
For one, the country is still emerging from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. But there is a psychological factor that plays a big part in retirement-saving complacency.
"The present feels much more real and important than projecting a potential problem in an uncertain future." said Dr. Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center. The repeated phrase of "not saving enough" has little effect, because it does not translate into something that has been experienced, Rutledge said.
Take the antismoking campaign that began in the early '80s. The ads and commercial spots had little effect. It wasn't until smoking-related deaths became more prevalent that folks began to take action.
There is also a habit-changing component to saving. "Change is hard. Saving money, when you haven't been saving means making a change," Rutledge said. Saving more requires you to break a habit, which is an upset to your normal flow, and making even small changes—like upping your contributions by a small percentage—can be a challenge for some.
Yet it's not a myth that if you make little changes, the rewards could end up being great. Changes often lead to positive results and reinforcement. "In behavior change, small changes create small victories that lead to larger and more frequent changes," Rutledge said.
—By Anthony Volastro, Segment Producer, CNBC