Retirement is a topic that regularly makes headlines, and not all of them are encouraging. It seems that at least once a week a new study or survey is released that emphasizes how woefully unprepared for retirement many Americans are. At the same time other research suggests that the retirement outlook may not be as bleak as it seems.
So what’s the truth about retirement in America? Looking at the retirement statistics can give you perspective, along with some peace of mind about whether you’re on course to meet your own retirement goals.
Gauging Retirement Readiness
Measuring how prepared workers are for retirement begins with looking at how much they have saved. It’s also important to take their own perceptions of how ready they are into account. Consider these numbers to see how you compare.
- The mean retirement savings of working households aged 32 to 61 is $95,776, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
- Thirty-five percent of workers have $100,000 or more saved for retirement. Thirty-eight percent have less than $10,000 saved.
- Fifty-six percent of workers are currently saving money for their later years. That means nearly half of all Americans have yet to begin planning for retirement.
- Six out of 10 workers say they feel confident or somewhat confident about being able to enjoy the kind of retirement they want.
- Fifty-seven percent of workers say saving for retirement is their top financial priority.
- The median age workers plan to live to is 86. Thirty-nine percent of workers plan to reach age 90 or older, while 16 percent anticipate living to 100.
- Fifty-nine percent of workers expect their standard of living to stay the same or increase in retirement.
- Twenty-four percent of pre-retirees say they’ll need $1 million or more to have a secure retirement.
- Fifty-four percent of pre-retirees say they have no clue how much money they’ll need when they retire.
- Twenty percent of workers say they’ll never be able to retire.
- Overall, Americans give themselves a “C” grade for retirement readiness.
Where Americans Are Saving for Retirement
If you’re saving for retirement, you probably know that you’ve got more than one option for investing your dollars and cents. Here’s where Americans are stashing their retirement dollars.
- Fifty-seven percent of workers have a retirement plan available to them through their job.
- Ninety-one percent of workers who have access to a workplace retirement plan are using it to save.
- Middle-income households with access to a 401(k) have 30 times as much in retirement savings compared to workers who don’t have a plan through their employer.
- The average 401(k) balance reached $97,700 in the second quarter of 2017.
- Twenty-one percent of workers still don’t contribute enough to their employer’s plan to get the company matching contribution.
- Over 43 million households owned an individual retirement account in 2016.
- Thirty-five percent of households contributed to traditional IRAs, while 36 percent contributed to Roth IRAs. Twenty percent contributed to more than one type of IRA, while nine percent contributed to a SEP or SIMPLE IRA.
- The average IRA balance reached $100,200 in the second quarter of 2017.
- Twenty-one percent of savers who have an IRA make maxing out the annual contribution limit to their plan a priority.
- Fifty-five percent of Americans save for retirement with a regular savings account. Sixty-three percent of millennials prefer cash to stocks or mutual funds for retirement savings.
Getting Your Retirement Savings on Track
Depending on how much progress you’ve made toward your own retirement goals, you may be feeling better—or worse—about where you stand. If you’re not quite as close to your target as you’d like to be, taking a second look at your retirement plan can help you pinpoint the gaps.
Start by determining just how much you’ll need for retirement, based on your current spending and the standard of living you expect to maintain in retirement. Then look at your savings balances and how much you’re saving regularly. Are you maxing out your employer’s plan if you have one, or, at the very least, saving enough to get the company match? If not, you’ll need to think about increasing your contributions.
If you don’t have a plan through your job, or you’re fortunate enough to max out your plan each year, you can supplement your savings with an IRA. As of 2017 you could save up to $5,500 in an IRA, with an extra $1,000 in savings allowed if you’re 50 or older. If you’re eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA, you could withdraw that money tax free in retirement. A traditional IRA, by comparison, would offer tax-deductible contributions. Talking with a financial professional can help you decide which type of IRA is best and what steps you need to take next to achieve the kind of retirement savings you’re after.