Many financial planners will tell you that it’s ideal to save an amount equal to 70% of your income to have a financially secure retirement.
However, a study by Bankrate.com found that’s just a pipe dream for seniors in most states across the U.S., with those in Hawaii, Alaska, and South Carolina just hitting that 70% mark.
Nationally the median income for those who are 65 and older is just 60% of the median income among 45 to 64 year-olds.
“These numbers help illustrate how underprepared many Americans are for retirement,” said Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s chief financial analyst. “It’s especially important for millennials to save aggressively, because they face the biggest retirement savings burden of any generation in American history.”
“We continually see that many Americans are not convinced that their short-term decisions impact their finances in the long run, so they are not prioritizing saving or contributing as early and often as they can,” says Sandy Williams, market sales manager at Merrill Edge.
Factors such as high debt levels—particularly for millennials—and the ‘sandwich’ phenomenon many Gen Xers face in which they’re caught between caring for aging parents, childcare expenses, education costs make saving for retirement challenging.
“And while longer life expectancy is generally great news, with much of the burden of saving for retirement having shifted to individuals, it means savings have to last longer, too,” says Williams.
Williams also says getting a clear picture of what your ideal retirement looks like will take a lot of the stress and strain out of planning.
“Avoid investing for the sake of investing—be sure to contribute with goals in mind. […] There is no ‘magic number’ for what you will need in retirement. It’s based on your goals, and everyone has a different number. It’s important to think of the specific ‘job’ you want your money to do when you get to retirement, such as covering day-to-day expenses, allowing for travel, or starting a business. The more clearly you can visualize what the money you are saving and investing is meant to do for you in the future, the easier it is to create a winning strategy and stick to it.”