With inflation as high as it is, you may be having a hard time saving any money for retirement. You're not alone, nor is this a new problem. Even many seniors who are already retired don't have a lot of savings. In fact, you may not have to save as much as you think to beat the average retiree's nest egg.
We'll look at what that is below, as well as ways to step up your savings and improve your financial security for retirement.
The average retiree's retirement savings won't go far
The exact amount you need to retire will depend on several factors, including how long you expect your retirement will last and how you plan to spend it. But it's safe to say that most people will need hundreds of thousands of dollars to retire comfortably, and some may need $2 million or more.
Yet most people's savings fall far short of this. Three in 10 retirees don't have any retirement savings, according to a recent Clever Real Estate survey, and another 27% say they have less than $50,000 saved.
These individuals may have additional income streams, like Social Security or other government benefits, but Social Security was never intended to be a senior's sole means of financial support in retirement. It was only ever designed to cover about 40% of the average worker's pre-retirement income. And with the program headed for a shortfall in a little over a decade, it may not even go that far in the future.
That's why having a substantial amount of personal savings you can draw upon is critical. If you've got $50,000 or more saved, you're off to an excellent start, but now's not the time to let off the gas.
How to step up your retirement savings
If you're worried you're not saving enough for retirement and you have extra cash lying around, all you have to do is increase your contributions to your 401(k), IRA, or other retirement account. But many aren't able to save as much as they'd like due to financial constraints. This is a more challenging problem, but there are still things you can try.
First, make sure you're not missing any easy opportunities to claim more money for retirement. For example, if your employer offers a 401(k) match, you should put all your retirement savings here at least until you've claimed the full match every year.
You should also pay attention to what you invest in and any expenses associated with it. Whenever possible, try to stick to low-cost investments, like index funds. Paying less in fees will help you to hang onto more of your money in the long term.
Look for ways to boost your income as well. You could try working overtime at your current job, negotiating a pay raise, or finding a better-paying job elsewhere. Or you could pick up a side job that you do just when it's convenient for you. Put the extra money you make directly into a retirement account.
If you're already retired or close to it and you know you don't have enough saved, it might be wise to consider delaying retirement or transitioning to retirement slowly. Perhaps you could drop to part-time work for a while before retiring completely. Or you could find a retirement job that's more in line with your interests.
Keep an eye out for other benefits that might help you cover your costs, like supplemental security income (SSI), supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) benefits, and more. These may not cover all your bills, but they can ease the strain on your wallet, helping your existing savings to go further.