A Troubling Look at the State of Retirement in 2021

Shot of a mature man using a laptop while working out his retirement plan at home..
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Americans are blessed with many ways to save for retirement. From workplace 401(k) plans to IRAs and regular investment accounts, there are multiple pretax and post-tax options where you can put your money. Combined with the rise of online brokers and $0 commissions, investing has never been easier. Yet, even with all of these advantages, Americans are woefully short when it comes to retirement savings. In fact, according to the Center for Retirement Research, more than half of Americans can’t keep their pre-retirement standard of living in retirement. 

Read: Jaw-Dropping Stats About the State of Retirement in America

To help assess the current state of America’s retirement savings, online real estate referral service Clever conducted a survey of 1,500 Americans to gather their financial data. Overall, the results are a bit bleak. Hopefully, you can take these results and use them as motivation to begin saving more, so that you can have the retirement lifestyle that you desire. Here are some of the survey’s most important findings.

Retire Comfortably

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The Average Retiree Has $177,787 in Retirement Funds

If you’re still young and working, a nest egg of $177,787 might not sound too bad. However, the truth is that this six-digit sum is just 39% of the $465,000 that some experts recommend. Others recommend a sum of $1 million or more. Depending on where you live and what type of lifestyle you require, you’re likely to find that $177,787 isn’t likely to last for your entire retirement, which could span 30 years or more.

See: 17 Tips To Live Comfortably Off Just a Social Security Check

The Vast Majority of Americans Have Less Than $50,000 Saved for Retirement

While the “average” American in the survey may have $177,787 saved for retirement, the outlook for the vast bulk of American retirees is even bleaker than this. An unbelievable 65% of survey respondents reported having less than $50,000 saved for retirement, with another 14% having between $50,000 and $150,000 saved. This means that nearly 80% of survey respondents have far less than the “average” amount saved. What this really means is that with the exception of a few savers who have hundreds of thousands in the bank, the vast majority of survey respondents have very little saved for retirement.

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Nearly Two-Thirds of Americans Retired Earlier Than Expected Due to Health Issues

Unexpected healthcare costs can throw a wrench into any American’s retirement savings plans. Although most retirees assume that medical costs will rise as they age, the truth is that these costs often kick in earlier than expected. A whopping 65% of survey participants indicated they were forced to retire earlier than expected due to health issues. This is a double whammy when it comes to retirement savings. If you’re forced to retire early, not only will you have fewer years to earn and save, you’ll also have more years of medical expenses to cover.

More: The First Thing You Should Do With Your Social Security Check

Most Americans Admit They Waited Too Long To Save for Retirement

Perhaps the greatest lesson to learn from this survey is that the majority of participants, 56%, said they waited too long to save for retirement. A whopping 63% said they wished they knew more about savings and investments while they were working. So, take it from your fellow Americans who are already retired — learn as much as you can about saving and investing while you are still working, and use that knowledge to save enough for a comfortable retirement.

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Last updated: March 12, 2021

About the Author

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.

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