Without retirement savings, you risk struggling financially when your career comes to a close and the paycheck you once relied on disappears. But unfortunately, most Americans don't seem to have gotten that memo.

A whopping 64% of U.S. workers are expected to retire with less than $10,000 in dedicated retirement savings, according to a new survey by GOBankingRates. And when we dig into how that statistic breaks down, things look even bleaker. That's because 45% of respondents say they have no money set aside for retirement at all. Meanwhile, 19% expect to leave the workforce with less than $10,000, which is basically akin to retiring broke.

Man sitting at laptop, resting his chin on his fist and looking serious


The other 36% of Americans aren't necessarily in such great shape, either. A good 20% say they think they'll retire with somewhere between $10,000 and $100,000. But even the latter isn't a whole lot of money in the grand scheme of what could easily be a 20-year retirement or more. And while the fact that just over 12% of respondents think they'll retire with anywhere from $100,000 to just under $500,000 is more encouraging, that's a pretty wide gap, and those closer to the lower end of that spectrum are still in pretty big trouble.

All told, only about 4% of Americans expect to retire with $500,000 or more. If you're not one of them, and you've already been working for quite some time, then it means you have some serious catching up to do.

Building your nest egg

It's hard to set money aside for retirement when near-term expenses mount and debt payments eat up a chunk of your income. That's the reality for a large number of working Americans. But if you don't take steps to ramp up your savings, you're apt to regret it later on.

How can you do better? You can start by getting on a budget. That will give you a good sense of where your money goes month after month so you can identify potentially wasteful spending and put a stop to it.

At the same time, it pays to get yourself a second job to generate extra income that can be used to fund an IRA or 401(k). That side gig doesn't have to be something you can't stand doing -- you can turn a hobby into a little business if you're so inspired, or sign up to do work that actually interests you, whether it's blogging for a local company you support or taking care of other people's pets.

What sort of a difference might your efforts result in? Well, it depends on your age, and how many years you have left until retirement. But here's what your savings balance could look like if you were to sock away $300 a month over time, and score a 7% return on your investments, which is doable if you invest your savings heavily in stocks:

Start Saving $300 a Month at Age:

And You'll Have This Much by Age 67 (Assumes a 7% Average Annual Return):












Of course, if you're already past your late 40s, you'll need to set aside much more than $300 a month to build solid savings. In fact, the same holds true if you're already in your 40s and are starting out with nothing, because even $148,000 to $228,000 isn't a whole lot of money to retire with. If that's the case, you may need to take more drastic measures than working a gig on the side and cutting a few expenses. Rather, you may need to downsize your home, give up a costly vehicle, or completely rethink your approach to leisure spending (meaning, you can forget about dining out every few nights or taking expensive vacations). But if your goal is to retire comfortably, it's a sacrifice you'll need to make.

Retirement costs the average Americans $828,000, and while you'll likely get some money out of Social Security, those benefits will only replace about 40% of your former earnings if your income is on the average side. Most seniors, meanwhile, need about twice that much money to maintain a decent lifestyle. Saving independently is your best bet for bridging that gap, and the sooner you make an effort to ramp up your retirement plan contributions, the less likely you'll be to struggle financially when your career comes to an end.