Even Americans with only modest retirement funds may be shocked to learn how many people are in dire straits: as in, they have no nest egg at all.
A new Federal Reserve study shows that one in four Americans (including the 27% who consider themselves retired) have saved absolutely nothing.
And even if you have something hidden, it might not be enough – although it’s something you can change even late in the game.
According to the Institute for Social Benefits Research, Americans are an estimated $3.68 trillion behind in retirement savings. While this includes everyone between the ages of 35 and 64, those in their 60s still don’t fare very well.
Here’s how your savings stack up and what you can do if you’re falling behind.
What is the average?
A Vanguard study found that people between the ages of 55 and 64 held an average of about $256,000. But that includes high-income earners; breaking down the numbers, it boils down to a median of about $90,000.
Interestingly, a lot has changed even in the short time since 2021, the source of Vanguard’s study figures. Last year, Vanguard noted that retirement savings had actually increased, thanks to the strong performance of the stock market.
But of course, since then, Wall Street’s woes have lingered for much of this year, as even otherwise strong stocks have taken a severe beating.
Which means the 2023 numbers could drop significantly – although with dollar costs averaging, people who hold on and keep investing will be rewarded if the market returns to full strength.
Is there a magic retirement number?
So how much should are you 60?
Retirement calculators like this can help you get answers. But the best thing Americans can do is go to a financial advisor who can help them achieve their goals.
If you want a broader view, Fidelity has ways to identify the right numbers for you. Generally speaking, Americans should aim for the equivalent of their salary at age 30, three times at age 40, six times at age 50 and eight times at age 60.
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So if you’re 60 and earning $50,000 a year, that means you should have $400,000 saved in your retirement account. As you can see, neither the average neither the median pension amount is even closer.
That said, the “should” amount does not take into account a multitude of variables. Consider, for example, how much you will be able to reduce your expenses in retirement, the money you can take out of Social Security, the assets you can offload, or the sale of a house.
How can you balance the numbers?
First and foremost, speak with a financial advisor. If you don’t have one, talk to friends who have done well with their advisor or ask someone you trust for recommendations.
The advisor will need to assess your overall financial situation. Do you have children you need to take care of your studies or a marriage? What is your home worth and do you plan to move? What sources of assets have you possibly overlooked?
Remember, it’s never too late to start saving money. Even 5% of each paycheck adds another $96 every two weeks, or $2,500 at the end of the year, which can then get worse.
And that’s far better than the zero bar that applies to 25% of Americans: all of whom deserve better than withdrawing their savings efforts before they begin.
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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.