In general, Americans haven't done a great job of saving for retirement. While there are many people who have done a good job, and the early indication is that the younger generations are doing a better job than older generations did, the overall picture of retirement savings in America doesn't look too good. With that in mind, here are 12 statistics that show where we stand.
1. One in three Americans has nothing saved for retirement.
According to a survey from GOBBankingRates.com, one out of every three Americans has absolutely nothing saved for retirement, 56% have less than $10,000 saved, and just 18% have $200,000 or more in retirement savings.
2. The average 50-year-old has $60,000 saved for retirement.
This is a little scary. It's not that big of a problem when a 30-year-old has no significant retirement savings, as they still have time to fix the problem. However, 50-year-olds aren't so fortunate. The average 50-year-old's retirement savings of $60,000 is nowhere near enough to provide enough income to live on, even assuming it grows significantly between now and retirement.
3. Only 18% of workers say they're "very" confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement; 24% are "not at all" confident.
Given the statistics stated earlier, this shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. After all, if we're not saving money, how can we expect to live a comfortable life once we're no longer working and earning a paycheck?
4. The U.S. retirement savings gap is estimated to be between $6.8 trillion and $14 trillion.
Research from the National Institute on Retirement Security found that the difference between what Americans have saved and what they should have saved is in the trillions of dollars. Even with the broadest definition of "savings" including things like home equity, the savings gap is at least $6.8 trillion.
5. Only 25% of people say they don't plan to work in retirement.
According to a survey by Bankrate.com, most Americans plan to work during retirement, and just one-fourth say they have no plans to do so. To be fair, this includes people who plan to work because they like to work or because work keeps them busy and motivated. However, 62% of those who plan to work after retirement cited a financial motivation.
6. $30,000 in student loan debt can mean $325,000 less in retirement savings.
This statistic should be on the minds of millennials as they decide on a student loan repayment plan. A recent report found that millennials who have $30,000 in student loan debt at the start of their careers, on average, can expect to have $325,000 less in retirement savings, when compared to peers who start with no debt. Of course, this can still work out in your favor if your degree significantly improves your earnings potential, but it's worth considering.
7. One-fourth of employees are refusing free money.
Americans are missing out on $24 billion every year in matching contributions from their employers. Why? Millions of people are not saving enough in their 401(k) to take full advantage of their employer's matching contribution. These employees are losing out on $1,336 per year, on average, in free money.
8. Millions more aren't aware of the Saver's Credit.
The Saver's Credit, formally known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit, is one of the best tax benefits available to low- and moderate-income taxpayers. Here's a full description, but in a nutshell, the credit can be worth up to $2,000 per couple in free money, just for saving for retirement. Only 25% of American workers who would qualify based on income are even aware of this credit.
9. The average Social Security check for a retired worker is $1,355 per month, as of Nov. 2016.
This translates to an income of $16,260 per year. Sure, it's nice to have this guaranteed, inflation-protected income stream. However, could you imagine living on just this amount of money?
10. 47% of single seniors and 22% of married couples are almost completely dependent on Social Security.
Social Security is only meant to be one form of retirement savings. In fact, the Social Security Income says that Social Security is intended to replace 40% of the average retiree's income. However, far too many people are almost completely reliant on Social Security.
11. 55% of retirees stopped working earlier than expected.
If your retirement savings plan involves you working until 70 years old to build up a nest egg, you may want to come up with a backup plan. Mainly because of health reasons or job loss, 55% of retirees stopped working before they planned. The average retirement age is about 63 years old, so keep this in mind when crafting a savings plan.
12. A retired couple can expect to spend about $260,000 during retirement on healthcare alone.
The latest estimates from Fidelity found that the average 65-year-old couple retiring this year will need $260,000 to cover healthcare expenses in retirement. And this doesn't include nursing home care, if you end up needing it.
What you can do if your savings aren't what they should be
If you're one of the millions of Americans who haven't been doing a great job of saving for retirement, there's no better time to turn things around than right now. Take advantage of the retirement savings options available to you, such as IRAs and your employer's 401(k) and make it a priority to save as much as you can, as soon as you can. You may be surprised at the effect of a seemingly small contribution increase over the long run.