When it comes to retirement savings, it’s “catch up” time in America. More than six out of 10 Americans—62%—report having fallen behind in their retirement savings and say they will likely need to ramp them up going forward, according to a recent survey.
Sobering as that news is, the generational breakdown of the respondents tells an even more interesting tale—with older respondents believing themselves far better positioned than younger ones for retirement, although a majority of them are still in need of some additional money.
Specifically, in the case of baby boomers, ages 55 to 73, slightly more than half, or 51%, said they would need to “catch up” on their retirement savings.
The situation is seemingly more problematic for millennials, ages 23 to 38. Nearly two thirds of them, or 66%, said they needed to increase the pace of their retirement savings or investments going forward.
Most worrisome is the case of the Generation X, ages 39 to 54. Almost three quarters of this middle group, or 73%, stated that they need to catch up on retirement savings. Perhaps this perceived shortfall is due to Gen X retirement accounts having been hammered by both the 2000-2002 dot-com collapse and the 2008-2009 financial crisis.
However, only relatively small percentages of each of the three demographic groups blame market volatility for their retirement outlooks. Just 12% of millennials and 15% each of boomers and Gen Xers cited “unstable markets” as a major reason for their retirement shortfalls.
Instead, 27% of baby boomers cited inadequate income for their iffy retirement prospects. That was followed by financial support they have provided to family members, health-care costs and starting their retirement savings efforts too late, each of which clocked in at 26% as major causes for their shortfalls according to respondents.
For Gen Xers, 31% cited inadequate income as a key reason for their retirement worries, followed by housing costs at 29%, and financial support for family members at 28%.
The millennials furnished the biggest surprise. Fully 37% of them cited housing costs as a reason for their retirement savings gap, followed by financial support for family members at 33%, and inadequate income and health-care costs, both at 26% each. Not surprisingly, student debt was also cited by millennials, with 21% flagging it as an important factor.
Overall, a majority of all three demographic groups, 58% on average, say that $1 million will be a sufficient retirement nest egg. And 68% responded that catching up is possible.
How will they cope? A large majority of all three demographic groups, 67% in total, responded that they would rather cut back on expenses during retirement than before. Overall, more than three quarters of those surveyed, 76%, would rather work part-time in retirement rather than push retirement back a few years.
What other kind of sacrifices will people consider to catch up? Exactly half, or 50%, said they are willing to take packed lunches to work instead of buying it there. Nearly the same percentage, 47%, said they are willing to brew their own coffee at home versus heading to the local coffee shop. And 39% are willing to reduce their housing expenses, the survey says.
Other targets for budget tightening included cutting back on vacations and reducing socializing with friends, which were both cited by 38% of respondents in the survey.
What are survey takers less likely to do to save more for retirement? Just 26% said they are willing to cut back on supporting family members. Only 14% said they would be willing to take public transportation instead of driving to work and paying to park.
And 13% said they would not be willing to make any trade-offs at all to save for retirement.