Retirement planning is a stressful process, but not all workers are equally concerned about preparing for their later years.
In fact, one particular group of Americans is far more fearful about their inadequate retirement savings than the population as a whole.
Which Americans are most concerned about their retirement savings?
Surprisingly, it's not near-retirees who are most concerned about preparing for their golden years -- it's young people.
A recent survey from E*Trade (NASDAQ:ETFC) found that 51% of workers under the age of 34 are worried about their lack of retirement savings. This is a much higher percentage than the population as a whole, as just 32% of all respondents indicated they were worried they wouldn't have enough saved for their later years.
Young workers aren't just more likely to be concerned about saving enough; it's also their top worry above all others. In fact, the same survey found that young investors were actually more worried about their retirement readiness during the COVID-19 crisis than they were about the possibility of losing a loved one.
It's no surprise that young workers are so fearful about the future. Members of this generation are significantly more likely than their older counterparts to list high costs of housing and education as major obstacles to retirement savings. A full 67% of young investors said housing expenses were a barrier to investing, compared with 44% of the population as a whole. Education came in close second, with 64% of young investors listing it as a reason they can't save compared with 34% of the entire population.
It's clear that far too many people under 34 are burdened with student loans and unaffordable housing prices. They are also now faced with a recession that could affect their job prospects and only make things worse.
Young workers are also significantly more likely than members of other generations to have taken an early withdrawal from their retirement accounts. Early withdrawals can negatively impact retirement readiness, as this money won't earn returns to help build a large nest egg. While COVID-19 relief legislation has temporarily suspended penalties for coronavirus-related withdrawals, normally taking money out of retirement accounts before age 59 1/2 can result in a 10% penalty.
How can you overcome your worries?
The best way to overcome your fears about your financial security in retirement is to set a savings goal and stick to it.
You can estimate the amount you'll need by calculating 10 times the salary you expect to earn before retirement. Online calculators make it easy to break that big goal down into small ones so you'll know how much to save each month and you can set up automated contributions to a 401(k) or IRA.
Of course, finding the spare cash to hit these goals can be a challenge, especially if high housing prices or student loans eat up most of your spare cash. But there are solutions, including refinancing at today's low rates, living with roommates, or opting for income-driven repayment for student loans.
While it may take some effort to find extra money to hit your goals, these steps can make retirement saving worry-free. You'll know you're saving enough and your contributions will be on autopilot so you don't miss a month. The sacrifice will be worth it as you see your account balance rise and your fears about your future retirement fall away.