Saving for retirement is one of the most important financial decisions a working adult can make. But a new study by Anytime Estimate shows that many people aren’t saving nearly enough — and that the pandemic derailed the retirement plans of millions of Americans.
A lot of financial wisdom is common sense; getting a cash rebate when you buy a house, or trying to lower the amount of real estate commission you’re paying. But when it comes to retirement, there are precise formulas — experts have calculated you’ll need 80% of your pre-retirement income each year of your retirement. In 2020, a worker making the median salary of $35,800 would need around $573,000 for retirement. Unfortunately, over a quarter of Americans have less than $50,000 in retirement savings, and 16% have nothing at all saved.
That’s a shame because whether you’re a house flipper, a house painter, or a house DJ, you’re going to need a nest egg to fund your golden years. Let’s look at some of the other findings from the study about the retirement savings habits of Americans in 2022!
1. More Than One-Third of Working Americans Are No Longer Saving for Retirement
Before the pandemic, 93% of working adults were saving for retirement. Since then, that number has fallen to only 63%, as Americans struggle with inflation, an expensive housing market, and the prospect of a recession.
2. Nearly Two-Thirds of Americans Tapped Their Retirement Fund During the Pandemic
62% of Americans withdrew some of their retirement savings during the pandemic, likely because of job loss, medical expenses, or to fund a relocation.
3. Many Americans Who Tapped Their Retirement Spent a Lot of Money
Of the 62% of Americans who spent some of their retirement savings during the pandemic, one in six (16%) withdrew $15,000 or more from their retirement accounts. Looking at the housing boom of the last few years, many people who withdrew a lot of money from their retirement fund likely used it on a new house. Hopefully, they got a good real estate agent — or at least a reputable discount agent.
4. Some of Those People Are Saving More Now to Make Up Lost Ground
In 2022, 68% of American adults are saving 15% or more of their annual income for retirement, per expert recommendations. That’s an increase over the 61% in March 2020 who were saving that much. Some of these people are likely saving more now to make up for their pandemic withdrawals, and some have likely seen wage gains during the strong job market of the past two years.
5. Over a Third of Americans Aren’t Saving for Retirement—and Many Have Saved Nothing
A significant portion of U.S. adults (37%) aren’t putting anything at all away for their golden years right now, and many have either never saved any money for retirement, or have since spent their entire retirement savings — of people who aren’t presently saving for retirement, 39% have absolutely nothing in their retirement accounts.
6. For Many Americans, the Pandemic Derailed Their Retirement Plan
Of the 37% of Americans who aren’t presently saving for retirement, 83% were putting money away for retirement before March 2020 but have since stopped.
7. Many of the People Who Have Stopped Saving Are the Ones Facing Imminent Retirement
While Gen Z has the largest share of members who aren’t saving for retirement (44%), the second-largest share of non-savers (38%) belongs to the baby boomer generation, many of whom are on the cusp of retirement age. This is especially concerning when you consider that many boomers didn’t start saving until very late in their careers.
8. Almost a Quarter of Baby Boomers Didn’t Start Saving Until Age 50
The power of retirement savings is that, if you start saving early in your career, compound interest will grow your money exponentially, especially in later years. But adults who don’t start saving until later in life miss out on the steepest part of the growth curve — and, unfortunately, 23% of baby boomers didn’t start to save for retirement until age 50 or later. That’s going to have an adverse impact on their retirement years, which are fast approaching — or may already be here.
9. The Average Baby Boomer Has Saved Less Than Half the Recommended Amount for Retirement
Financial experts recommend that adults should have 8 times their annual income saved before age 60, which means the average baby boomer, making the median annual income, should have $296,400 in retirement savings. Unfortunately, the median amount saved by baby boomers is only $112,000, or 39% of the recommended amount.
10. About Half of Americans Who Are Saving for Retirement Started Saving Before Age 30
52% of Americans who are putting money away for retirement began saving in their 20s, which is when experts recommend you start saving to tap into the full potential of retirement account growth.
11. Millennials Are Better at Saving for Retirement Than Baby Boomers Were
Right now, over a quarter of millennials (29%) are saving for retirement, and started doing so when they were between 25 and 29 years old. Only 14% of baby boomers started saving for retirement at that age, and are now facing the consequences of their late start.
12. Many Millennials Started Saving for Retirement Extremely Early
Nearly a fifth of millennials (18%) started saving for retirement between the ages of 20-24, compared to just 9% of boomers who started saving at that age. For all the news reports about Millennials being financially irresponsible, a good portion of this generation appears to be unusually financially well-prepared.
13. Millennials Are Right On Track for Retirement
Financial experts suggest that you save 3 times your annual income before the age of 40; for adults earning the median U.S. income, that comes to around $107,000. Millennials have saved $70,000, on average, for retirement, putting them more or less on pace to hit that target. But for millennials putting money away for retirement at an early age, it may be less about being extra comfortable in their golden years than it is about getting there as fast as possible.
14. Young Americans Are Aiming at an Early Retirement
Overall, a quarter of Americans think they’ll be able to retire before the age of 60. But young people are even more optimistic that they’ll be able to afford an early exit from the workforce; Gen Z is 206% more optimistic about early retirement than boomers. Keep in mind, though, that studies have shown that Gen Z workers dramatically overestimate their early- and mid-career earnings, so their back-of-the-envelope retirement projections may be similarly unrealistic.
15. Older Americans Are Less Optimistic About Early Retirement—or More Realistic
More than a third of Americans (38%), including 42% of boomers, believe they’ll retire in their 60s, near the average retirement age.
16. One in Ten Americans Is Very Pessimistic About Their Retirement Prospects
Ten percent of Americans don’t believe they’ll ever be able to retire, and women are 71% more likely than men to believe this. This disparity is likely the result of a combination of the gender pay gap, career interruptions to care for children, and other factors.
17. A Large Majority of Americans Are Worried Their Quality of Life Will Decline in Retirement
Nearly 4 in 5 Americans (79%) are worried they’ll be forced to lower their standard of living for financial reasons in retirement.
18. Facing Imminent Retirement, Boomers Are Especially Worried
Boomers far outpace other generations when it comes to worrying about their golden years. 86% of boomers fret about their quality of life in retirement, with nearly half (47%) saying they’re “very” concerned. Boomers are 38% more likely than Gen Z and 15% more likely than millennials to be “very” worried about their retirement standard of living, which makes sense — unlike the younger generations, boomers don’t have much more time to put money away.
19. Nearly Half of Americans Have Delayed Retirement to Save More Money
Faced with the possibility of a lowered quality of life in retirement, 40% of Americans have decided to delay retirement and keep working until they make up their losses from the pandemic.
20. The Pandemic Dampened People’s Confidence In Their Retirement Plans
A worrying 40% of U.S. adults are less confident now, compared to pre-pandemic, that they’ll have enough money saved for retirement — a number that suggests the broad economic damage inflicted over the past two years, even though the economy seems, by many measures, to have recovered.
21. A Huge Majority of Adults Don’t Believe Their Retirement Savings Will Stretch as Far
According to the study, 83% of Americans are worried their retirement savings won’t stretch as far as they need them to, likely a reflection of the elevated rate of inflation in 2022.
22. More Than Half of Americans Think They’ll Run Out of Money in Retirement
A concerning 56% of adults believe they’ll outlive their retirement savings — whether this is pessimism, or if this belief is rooted in economic reality is an open question. However, the data does suggest this is a strong possibility for many Americans, especially ones who started saving late or never started saving at all.
23. Men Are More Confident—and More Pessimistic—About Their Retirement
Men are 5% more likely than women to believe they’ll outlive their savings, though they’re also more confident than women that they’ll be able to retire early.
24. Most Americans Are Worried About an Economic Downturn
A whopping 81% of Americans are worried that some segment of the economy will crash in 2022, and 45% fear a general market crash. This overall market pessimism is likely a big factor in respondents’ pessimism about their retirement prospects — meaning that, if the U.S. economy does avoid a recession, their retirement prospects could brighten considerably.
25. The #1 Reason Americans Don’t Save for Retirement? They Don’t Have the Money
The top reason cited by respondents for not saving for retirement was that they don’t make enough money (37%).
The second-most cited reason was “unemployment” (26%), followed by “too young to start saving for retirement” (21%), “prioritizing other investments” (19%), “too much debt” (18%), and “don’t know how to save for retirement” (15%).
26. Women Are More Likely Than Men to Say They Don’t Make Enough to Save
Women are a whopping 32% more likely than men to say they don’t earn enough income to save for retirement — a reminder that the gender pay gap is very real. On average, women have saved about 70% of what men have saved for retirement, and receive less in Social Security.
27. Half of Workers Say Their Employers Didn’t Help Enough with Retirement
A full 50% of workers place significant blame on their employers for not contributing enough to their retirement — and many of them have a valid point. Nearly a third of recent retirees (31%) said their former employers didn’t even offer a pension or 401(k) plan.
28. Younger Generations Are Making More Money—and Have Better Retirement Benefits
Survey results found that millennials are 31% more likely than boomers to say they earn a high enough salary to put money away for money for retirement and are 46% more likely to say their benefits package includes employer retirement contributions that are adequate.
29. A Majority of Working Adults Believe Social Security Will Run Out Before They Retire
Over half of Americans of working age (55%) think Social Security is going to run out of money before they get to retire. 47%, on the other hand, expect it’ll still be around when they reach their golden years.
It’s interesting to consider how these beliefs in the solvency of Social Security inform individual retirement strategies.
30. Younger Generations Are Much More Pessimistic About Social Security Than Older Generations
Boomers feel pretty good about Social Security. 59% of them are planning on making Social Security a big part of their retirement. Less than half of millennials (46%) are as confident that Social Security will be viable when they reach retirement age. Most of that confidence evaporates by the time we get to Gen Z, nearly two-thirds of whom (64%) think Social Security will go broke before they retire.
31. Younger Generations Have Adjusted Their Retirement Savings Strategies to Account for Low Confidence in Social Security
Nearly half of millennials (46%) said they would rely on personal savings and investments (IRA, Roth IRA, and 401(k) accounts) for retirement security over Social Security.
32. A Quarter of Americans Have Included Cryptocurrency in Their Retirement Plans
One in four Americans, and 30% of millennials, reported that they’d invested in cryptocurrency as part of their retirement savings. Financial experts advise caution regarding cryptocurrency, as the market is extremely volatile. Investing in crypto is far riskier than ventures like buying off-market real estate and flipping it, or rehabbing distressed properties.