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Do Millennials & Gen Z’ers Even Think About Retirement At All? | If So, How Different is Their Version?

[Did you know that 1 in 3 Americans has saved $0 for Retirement?]

Let’s face it, with company pensions practically extinct, this is not your father’s retirement landscape.

Though aimed at Millennials, these tips will help Genration X’ers, Z’ers, and Millennials plan effectively for their future and/or soon-to-be Retirement.


Saving for retirement is not an area of financial strength for Americans. Too often, meeting the financial demands of today means delaying, diminishing or simply never starting to save for tomorrow.

“There are plenty of obstacles Americans claim are in their way when it comes to saving for retirement: credit card debt, student loan debt, low wages, the need to save for a child’s college education, and the list goes on,” said Cameron Huddleston, Life + Money columnist for GoBankingRates. “Although all of these things can put a strain on our budgets, they don’t necessarily make it impossible to save for retirement.”

GoBankingRates asked Americans how much money they have saved for retirement and found that most people are behind on their retirement savings. These survey findings also provide a helpful benchmark against which readers can compare their own retirement savings balances and progress.

Survey: How Much Americans Have Saved for Retirement

The GoBankingRates survey was conducted as three Google Consumer Surveys, each targeted at one of three age groups: millennials, Generation Xers, and baby boomers and seniors. Each age group was asked the same question, “By your best estimate, how much money do you have saved for retirement?” Respondents could select one of the options as displayed below:

  • Less than $10K
  • $10K to $49K
  • $50K to $99K
  • $100K to $199K
  • $200 to $299K
  • $300K or more
  • I don’t have retirement savings.

GoBankingRates analyzed the survey results to reveal key insights into how Americans of all ages are saving for retirement. Whether due to various economic factors or not correctly prioritizing finances, many people are not on track to have enough money to cover their expenses during retirement.

56% of Americans Have Less Than $10,000 Saved for Retirement

Most Americans are falling short of the amount of savings required for a comfortable retirement ― if they are saving at all. The most common responses to the question of what people have saved for retirement across all age groups are “I don’t have retirement savings” and “less than $10K,” breaking down as follows:

  • One-third of Americans report they have no retirement savings.
  • 23% have less than $10,000 saved.
1 in 3 Americans Saved 0 for Retirement 1

This lack of savings indicates that just getting started on retirement planning is a significant obstacle for many people. This difficulty can be due to a lack of education on the importance of retirement savings, said Kristen Bonner, the GoBankingRates research lead for this survey. “Americans might also be feeling as though their employer match ― or lack of ― is not enough to make it worth it to open an account, as well the growing trend of changing jobs every couple years and not wanting to deal with rolling over funds from one account to another,” Bonner said.

It’s not all bad news, however:

  • After “less than $10K,” the most common balance Americans have saved for retirement is “$300K or more.”
  • A significant 13% of Americans’ retirement savings balances are in the top bracket.

Retirement Savings Correlate Closely to Age

Retirement savings are closely tied to savers’ stages of life. For young people just starting their careers, simply saving at all could be a sufficient goal, while those nearing retirement will likely want to have at least a few hundred thousands of dollars in their retirement accounts.

GoBankingRates conducted this survey in three different parts aimed at specific generational age ranges ― millennials ages 18 to 34, Gen Xers ages 35 to 54, and baby boomers and seniors ages 55 and over ― to get an accurate picture of how Americans’ savings differ by life stage:

  • Millennials are 40% more likely to not have retirement savings than Gen Xers and 50% more likely than people age 55 and over.
  • About half of Gen X is making a significant effort to save for retirement ― 48.2 percent have saved over $10,000, including 26.7 percent who have saved $100,000 or more.
  • Boomers and seniors are 85% more likely than Gen Xers to have $300,000 or more in retirement accounts and 4.6 times more likely than millennials to have saved this amount.
How Much Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials Saved For Retirement Chart

3 of 5 Millennials Have Started a Retirement Fund

As the youngest group surveyed, millennials are the least likely to have substantial retirement savings. Three in four (72%) of millennials have saved less than $10,000 or nothing at all.


Additional findings show how millennials’ retirement savings reflect their life stage:

  • 42% of millennials indicated they have no retirement savings.
  • The number of millennials with no retirement savings yet is 52% for younger millennials ages 18 to 24 but a more reasonable 36% for older millennials ages 25 to 34.
  • The most common balances that younger millennials have saved are “less than $10K,” at 30%, and “$10K to $49K,” at 11%.
  • Older millennials are twice as likely as younger millennials to have saved $10,000 to $49,000, at 14% versus 7%, respectively.

Overall, fewer millennials are saving for retirement than should be, but many millennials’ retirement savings are actually on track, especially among the those ages 25 to 34. For this group, saving now and saving regularly will make all the difference.

“The earlier you start saving, the easier it is ― really,” Huddleston said. “Thanks to the power of compounding, if you start regularly setting aside even small amounts as soon as you start working, you could easily have enough for a comfortable retirement.”

Saving as little as 5% of your income can make a big difference long term, Bonner added. “Make sure to always take advantage of any employer matches, and automatically transfer funds from your paycheck to your retirement fund so that you do not even think of that money as disposable income,” she said.

Here’s What Millennials’ Retirement Dreams Look Like … and How They Can Get There:

Over the last decade Millennials have gotten a lot of attention (good and bad) for their “slacktivism,” job hopping, mountains of student debt and FOMO culture. But Millennials are growing up, and many of them are prioritizing financial independence and thinking seriously about their path to retirement. Perhaps unsurprisingly, and in contrast to the generations before them, they have different ideas about what that path and the ultimate destination will look like.

According to a new Schwab study, Millennials are more likely to prioritize travel over homeownership in retirement. They want the freedom to use their savings to pursue their desired lifestyle and passions more than chase financial stability. They want flexibility and new experiences more than traditional retirement pursuits.

The Millennial Road to Retirement

As for the path to reach these non-traditional goals, Millennials are looking for flexibility on that front too. They are less focused on a specific retirement savings amount. Instead, they see the accumulation process as more of a continuum, and they want to pursue their passions along the way toward retirement – not just in retirement. Additionally, they are less interested in preserving their wealth in retirement and will not spend as much time managing their investments as Boomers.

Some of these Millennial preferences may seem out of line with responsible retirement goals, but this is a generation of action. Millennials, to their credit, are already starting to save much earlier than their predecessors and over the course of the pandemic, many have stepped up their engagement and focus on financial planning.

It’s also worth noting that Millennials aren’t simply re-writing the script for retirement because they can. Major economic and societal shifts are driving these changes in how younger people approach money, careers and life. They have encountered challenges that are different from the generations before them. The cost of homeownership has risen, pensions plans have dwindled, student debt has risen dramatically – just to name a few. 

Tips to Help Millennials on Their Path

The road to retirement has only gotten more challenging over the course of Millennials’ lifetimes. The good news is that many timeless financial planning strategies can be readily adapted to fit their needs.

Here are the top tips I share with Millennials for reaching the retirement of their dreams:

  • Stash some cash: The first step to planning for the rest of one’s financial future is creating a financial cushion to fall back on in preparation for the inevitable disruptions life will bring. A few months’ worth of savings is a good place to start an emergency fund.
  • Focus on your financial state, not your retirement date: Don’t think of retirement as an arbitrary date when a switch is flipped and retirement begins. Instead, target a financial state that would provide for the flexibility to make work optional. That could look like saving enough by the time you are 60 to be able to stop working if you needed to, but with the idea that you will continue working and saving until you are emotionally ready to retire. It is important to crunch the numbers to figure out how much will be needed to feel comfortable. From there, adjust your savings accordingly to grow that nest egg.
  • Grow it and protect it: We all want to grow our savings and investments to sustain us through our lifetimes. But don’t lose sight of protecting what’s already in place. There’s no such thing as a “sure thing,” and that means that diversification is important to potential growth along with stability. Don’t risk more than you can afford and be ready to re-evaluate your risk tolerance over the course of your investing journey. Also consider diversifying & protecting your retirement savings via precious metals gold IRA accounts.


  • Don’t be derailed by FOMO: Hot new investment trends can be very enticing, but getting caught up in the rush toward shiny possibilities can lead to setbacks that limit future potential. Remember that investing is about helping grow money over time to reach your goals and not speculating or chasing fads.
  • Think long and short: Retirement planning is a long process that requires time and patience. It also requires flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. No one can predict all the challenges that lie ahead, or if their future self might look at things a bit differently than their present self. Create a plan and revisit it at least once a year, knowing that there will be changes along the way.

The Bottom Line

Just like Boomers and Gen X’ers, Millennials have distinct generational characteristics that set them apart, but at the same time they are not a monolith. Millennials will take many different approaches and paths to retirement. Their personal lives will take unexpected twists and turns that may change some of their goals along the way.

Sound financial planning that begins early is the key to success no matter the desired destination. That much never changes.

-Via Excerpts From 2 Sources:

Millennials Want a Different Kind of Retirement

1 in 3 Americans Has Saved $0 for Retirement




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