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More Than Half of Americans Will Retire Broke, New Study Reveals

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It’s a topic we’ve written about on the AgingOptions Blog many times before: Americans, even baby boomers approaching retirement, are not saving anywhere near enough in their retirement accounts and other savings vehicles to meet their future needs. But it seems like every month or two we encounter a new research study that suggests the retirement savings trend line isn’t getting any better. So we pass this information along not to be depressing but rather as a cautionary tale.

As an excellent case in point, we offer this very detailed and very readable article from a website called GOBankingRates ( This article, published only in the last few weeks, carries the sobering title, “More Than Half of Americans Will Retire Broke.” It goes on to elaborate that an “alarming number” of people, even those approaching retirement age, are still far behind where they ought to be in saving for their so-called golden years. The article doesn’t deal only with boomers but includes some very well designed graphics showing that the failure to save for the future is a problem faced by Americans at every age group. As you read this article our hunch is that it will make for some excellent conversations with your adult kids, and even with older grandkids who might be in the millennial generation. It’s never too early to start saving for the future.

The GOBankingRates article shows the results of the group’s 2017 Retirement Saving survey. This is the second year in a row for this research project which polled 1,000 respondents in each of three age groups: millennials, Gen-Xers and baby boomers. The question these respondents were asked was simple: “By your best estimate, how much money do you have saved for retirement?” The survey offered six broad dollar ranges from a low of “less than $10,000” to a high of “$300,000 or more,” along with the selection that said, “I don’t have retirement savings.” In summarizing the results, the bleak assessment was that the findings were “not encouraging. In fact, these survey results could be signs that many people will retire broke.”

As we said, the article is filled with interesting data and well-designed charts showing survey results across all age groups. But we were most interested in results for those closest to retirement, the baby boomers, the oldest of whom are just entering their 70s. Surely these older adults will show better survey results than our younger counterparts, right? The answer is, yes, the results for boomers are better, but in our estimation (and in the assessment of those conducting the survey) the savings rate even for those on the threshold of retirement is nowhere near where it ought to be.

For example, the GOBankingRates survey showed that fully 29 percent of boomers (those 55 years old and older) said they had no retirement savings at all. This is barely better than the 32 percent of the Gen X age group (those 35-54) with zero saved for retirement. A dismal 15 percent of boomers report having saved $10,000 or less. That means 44% of baby boomers are heading toward retirement with a nest egg of no more than $10,000. Only one-quarter are at the opposite end of the spectrum with retirement savings of $300,000 or more.

There are no doubt several reasons for these troubling statistics. Some baby boomers, reports suggest, were caught up in the recession of the last decade – they lost their jobs and never recovered, being forced to deplete what savings they had while not adding anything to their retirement accounts. For others, the lack of an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan is a major impediment, since studies have shown the availability of these payroll deduction plans tends to increase savings rates significantly. Other boomers may be relying on pensions for their retirement, the article points out, but this group is declining rapidly: according to the Wall Street Journal, the percentage of American workers in the private sector who have a pension is now just 13 percent. In 1979 the figure was almost three times greater.

Then there’s Social Security, which will be the chief source of income – perhaps the only one – for millions of retirees. But these benefits can’t ensure the lifestyle that many future retirees say they hope to be able to enjoy once they stop working. One answer for many will be to delay that day for more and more years into the future, holding onto their jobs longer and longer if they can. Many say they doubt they will ever be able to truly “retire.”

With all this in mind, we have two recommendations for you. First, we suggest you read the GOBankingRates article and share some of the information with your loved ones in the millennial and Gen X age group. Show them the graphics and urge them, if they haven’t already done so, to start saving now. After all, if any of us had it to do over again, I suspect we would all save much more aggressively than we did in our younger years. The second recommendation is actually an invitation: get some professional advice and start planning. Even if you worry that your savings are far less than they should be, we at AgingOptions can help you with professional planning and guidance, showing you how to protect your assets and avoid becoming a burden to your loved ones. We offer a type of retirement planning called LifePlanning that takes a much more comprehensive view of the process than any other retirement plan we know of. It’s a revolutionary approach to the critical work of planning for your future as you age.

We invite you to come to one of our free LifePlanning Seminars and find out for yourself why so many retirees and those approaching retirement are facing the future with a new sense of confidence and purpose thanks to their AgingOptions LifePlan. These popular seminars are offered in locations throughout the area. For details and online registration, click here, or for assistance by phone call our office during the week. Let us replace your retirement fears with a sense of security and confidence, through the power of an AgingOptions LifePlan.

(originally reported at


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