Americans may be in trouble when it comes to retirement savings. The median retirement account balance is very low, putting workers at risk of having too little money in their later years. 

Are you in jeopardy of falling short when it comes to your retirement nest egg? It's worth looking at how your investment account balance compares to the median to see where you stand. 

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Here's what the typical American has saved for retirement

According to a recent report from the TransAmerica Center for Retirement Research, the median amount workers have saved for retirement is just $93,000. But even this shockingly low number doesn't tell the whole story. TransAmerica found that:

  • The median among full-time workers is $104,000.
  • The median among part-time workers is $48,000.
  • Eighteen percent of workers have less than $10,000 saved in retirement accounts.
  • Seven percent of workers have saved nothing at all for retirement, including 6% of full-time employees and 12% of people who work part-time.

A retirement savings account balance of $93,000 would produce around $3,720 in annual income if you maintained a safe withdrawal rate by taking out 4% of your money in your first year of retirement and then raised your withdrawal amount each year to account for inflation.

This is far below what most people will need to supplement their Social Security retirement benefits and maintain their quality of life after leaving the workforce. 

Why is the median retirement account balance so low?

The median account balance is low for a lot of reasons.

Obviously some young people haven't had time to save much for retirement. They have very little money in their accounts and their low balances affect the median. But the sad reality is that this factor alone doesn't explain the shockingly low balance.  

The simple fact is that millions of Americans simply aren't saving enough to support themselves. Pressing financial obligations often get in the way for many, while others assume Social Security will be sufficient to cover their costs so they don't prioritize retirement savings. That's a grave mistake, as retirement benefits aren't designed to provide sufficient funds for basic life necessities without other income. 

How does your savings compare?

If your savings is below or around the median, this may not be a problem if you're very young and have many years left to work and invest. But it could put you in serious financial jeopardy if you're in your 60s and don't have much time left before you need to rely on savings.  

The bottom line is that pretty much everyone needs much more than $93,000 saved by the time they retire -- although the specific amount you should have will be determined by your pre-retirement income and whether you have other sources of funds besides savings and Social Security (such as a pension). 

To see how much you should invest for your future, try out one of the easy techniques for setting savings goals such as multiplying your expected final salary by 10. Calculators on can then help you assess whether you're investing enough. It's best to do these calculations ASAP, as the sooner you set savings goals and start working toward them, the more likely it is you'll beat the median account balance and end up with enough money for your later years.