Stock Groups

Are you saving enough for retirement? Odds are, probably not.


Getty Images| Photodisc | Getty Images

Do you have enough money saved for retirement? There’s a good chance you aren’t.

According to the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances 2019, $65,000 was the average amount of retirement savings for Americans. The nest egg is not enough to provide you with an easy retirement.

However, this figure applies to all Americans. When broken down by age groups, Americans between the age of 55 and 64 held a median savings amount of $134,000 — still far from ensuring a long, happy retirement — but significantly better. Americans below 35 years old, who have plenty of time to improve their saving habits, had an average savings amount of $13,000 That would be enough to buy a quality used car.

Learn more about Life Changes

We have other stories that offer a financial perspective on life’s important milestones.

Angie Chen of Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research stated that “About half of Americans will not be able to sustain their pre-retirement standard or living standards after they retire.”

There are a huge number of factors that impact planning for retirement — many of them like life expectancy, market returns and long-term inflation rates, are highly uncertain. Many guidelines can help you determine how much assets are needed to comfortably retire.

So-called Rule of 25 recommends saving 25 percent of your anticipated annual expenses for retirement. You can withdraw 4% annually from these savings over a 30-year period.

Chen stated that people shouldn’t target a specific number more than a savings rate. The best thing for people is to start saving early and continue to save.

Chen’s organisation uses data from the Federal Reserve survey to establish the income replacement rates households will require in retirement. It also calculates the savings rate they must adopt to meet those targets.

Income replacement rates are higher for lower-income households (80%) than those of higher income (67%). Social Security offers a greater benefit for lower income households than it does for higher-income ones. This means that they need to save less of their retirement income.

For a person starting saving when they are 25 years old and retiring at age 62, the rate required for reaching targets was 11%. This is compared to 15% for those with middle income and 16% for those who have high-income. Rates that are higher for those who wait until the last minute to save must apply if they don’t begin saving sooner.

If a medium-earning person wants to replace 70% pre-retirement income, they must save 24% (if they begin at 35) and 44% (44% if starting at 45). These savings rates fall dramatically if you delay retirement. An individual aged 35 can retire with 15% savings at 65 or 12% when he is 67.

Aiming at big, impossible goals is better than taking smaller steps to get there.

Jude Boudreaux

The Planning Center senior financial planner

You should take these numbers very seriously. Jude Boudreaux is a certified financial planner and says that the goal of focusing on numbers, or savings rates, can prove counter-productive.

Boudreaux said that “when it comes to behavior change, well-meaning guidance is often not very effective in application.” He merged Upperline Financial Planning, his New Orleans-based advisory firm, with The Planning Center in 2017, and serves as senior financial planner at The Planning Center. There are two types of rules: the general and those that are specific to each individual.

My wife and me didn’t reach our retirement savings goals because we were building our advisory practice.

Problem with setting goals is that they can have a negative impact on your behavior if you miss them. A person who fails to meet a target often ends up doing nothing.

Boudreaux explained that setting big goals you don’t achieve is more detrimental than taking small steps to get there. I advise clients to think bigger when saving for retirement.

If you can save 5% on your income, how about 6%? This way, you will continue to increase your potential savings.

Boudreaux advises people to start tracking their savings and spending in their 30s so they can understand the effects of their decisions on future finances. Like all financial advisors, he suggests that if you participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan with a contribution-matching program, take full advantage of it. Free money is the best way to build a nest egg.

Do not panic about your future savings if you don’t feel ahead of your time. You should delay retirement, and/or cut back on your spending. It will stretch your savings and could allow you to delay claiming Social Security for a larger benefit later — further reducing the need for personal savings.

He said, “Don’t risk more to compensate for your lost time.” You could find yourself in an even worse position.”