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Will You Retire Broke? Reasons Why Your Retirement May Be in Jeopardy

More than 42% of Americans will retire broke, according to a 2022 survey taken by GOBanking Rates. For the fifth year in a row, thousands of individuals were polled to ascertain how much the average American has set aside for retirement, and the results may shock you.

The Bad News

The survey found that 42% of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, which means that 42% will be broke at the time of their retirement. The average retired American, aged 65 and older, spends $46,000 per year. Those polled in the survey included around 1,000 individuals from three generations: baby boomers, Generation Xers, and millennials.

In general, Americans find it difficult to save for retirement. Blame it on overspending. Blame it on increasing healthcare and education costs, or blame it on the fact that wage gains have not increased over the past decade. Americans are working well into their 80s, and that’s not necessarily because of a deep affection for their professions. Take a look at this retirement nest egg crisis.

Age Matters

According to a CNBC report from April 2018, retirement preparedness varies by age, which comes as no big surprise. The Economic Policy Institute defines working-age families as those households whose income-earners are between 32 and 61 years old and declares that the median retirement savings for these families are a meager $5,000. Here is how much each generation has saved:

  • Millennials: CNN Money reports that 66% of millennials between 21 and 32 have absolutely nothing saved for retirement. Douglas Boneparth, a certified financial planner and author, says, “In practice, a lot of us are putting retirement down the goal priority list in favor of paying off student debt or buying homes. Many are not overspending or living a frivolous lifestyle yet still can’t afford to put money toward all their competing priorities.”
  • Generation Xers: Despite being closer to retirement than millennials, Generation X in the age range of 38-53 have saved the same amount for retirement: an average of $35,000, according to Gen Xers also have more credit card debt than any other generation and have the highest debt levels overall. Federal Reserve data states that Gen X’s debt is around $152,000 per household, compared to $82,000 for those under 35.
  • Baby boomers: According to a CBS News report, drawing on data from the Stanford Center on Longevity (SCL), 30% of baby boomers, individuals between 55 and 75, have nothing saved for retirement. For those who do have savings, the average balance hovers around $250,000. This number may sound reasonable and manageable for a retirement nest egg. Still, it boils down to only about $11,900 in an annual allotment, rendering these numbers significantly lower than expected and recommended.

The SECURE Act and RESA: Making It Easier to Save for Retirement?

On April 2nd, 2019, the House considered a bill introduced into Congress as the “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act,” or the SECURE Act. On April 1st, 2019, the Senate Finance Committee introduced the “Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act,” or RESA. Take a look at how these bills may help Americans save for retirement.


House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) said in an article by Yahoo Finance that this bill is “providing more and easier ways to save” by “allowing workers to actively plan for their futures and avoid falling into poverty later in life.” It has many facets to it including

  • allowing parents to use 529 savings accounts to cover the costs of up to $10,000 in student loan repayments,
  • allowing parents to use 529 savings for homeschooling and apprenticeships,
  • giving parents the ability to make withdrawals from retirement plans without penalties in the instances of a birth or adoption,
  • encouraging employers to automatically enroll their employees in retirement plans
  • raising the age of the required distribution allotment to 72 years from 70.5, and
  • allowing part-time workers to participate in 401(k) plans.

Because of the SECURE Act, students’ parents are encouraged to save for future education endeavors. The Act will make it easier and cheaper to do so. Additionally, it will allow part-time employees to participate in 401(k) plans, meaning more individuals can save for retirement.

The Retirement and Savings Act

Headed by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (R-TX,) the proposed Senate bill, “The Retirement and Savings Act,” the anticipated approach to bettering retirement finances, will focus on helping Americans save more money during their prime working years. The bill will encourage them not to delay saving for retirement. RESA will ensure that those retirement nest eggs last well into retirement and are not depleted while the retiree is still alive.

RESA, much like SECURE, will improve small business retirement plans. Under the Act, employers will be able to join forces to offer and support retirement plans for their workers. Currently, many small businesses are unable to offer retirement plans or, if they can offer them, struggle to keep them afloat. What’s more, the legislation lifts the ban on IRA contributions made after an employee turns 70.5 years old. This means that 1.5 million, or 1 out of 5 Americans, still working at the age of 70.5, may continue to make their IRA contributions.

The Good News

Fortunately, saving for retirement news is not all doom and gloom. There is good news for all ages. Older individuals spend less than their younger counterparts for a variety of reasons, so the costs of living tend to shrink. Resources like healthcare and social security will continue to be available to those approaching retirement and will continue to be improved upon. And, now more than ever, if the wanna-be retiree absolutely needs to work past the age he intended to retire, there are more jobs available to older Americans.

Even though the average retirement age has risen over two decades, many Americans can retire before they had planned to. And some end up staying on the job or returning to work because they find working more personally fulfilling than retirement.

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[Editors’ Note: To learn more about this and related topics, you may want to attend the following on-demand webinars (which you can view at your leisure, and each includes a comprehensive customer PowerPoint about the topic):

  1. ESOPs 101
  2. Investing in Residential and Multi-Family Real Estate
  3. Turning an Idea or a Product Into a Business

This is an edited version of an article originally published on June 7, 2019. It was edited by Maryan Pelland ]

©2022. DailyDACTM, LLC d/b/a/ Financial PoiseTM. This article is subject to the disclaimers found here.

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