A major trouble sign when it comes to America’s sagging retirement system: The gulf between what many people say they need to put away for their later years and how much money they actually have saved.
The typical employee believes they’ll need $1.27 million to retire comfortably, according to a new study from financial services firm Northwestern Mutual. Yet the average retirement account balance stands at $89,300, and even Americans who are either close to or in their retirement years are falling far short, according to the study. Most people in their 60s and 70s have no more than about $114,000 in retirement savings, the firm found.
“There is a gap between saving for retirement and what you think you need post-retirement,” Aditi Javeri Gokhale, chief strategy officer at Northwestern Mutual, told CBS MoneyWatch.
Of late, Americans may believe they need to sock away more for retirement because of two years of elevated inflation, which hit a 40-year peak last year remains twice the Federal Reserve’s 2% annual target. But the so-called retirement gap isn’t going away, with people continuing to save far less than what they will need after they leave employment.
Americans are pushing back their expected retirement age, with the poll of 2,740 adults finding that people on average expect to work until they’re 65, up from 62.6 years old in 2021. But people who describe themselves as disciplined financial planners say they expect to retire at 63, compared with 67 for those who aren’t able to put more money away or focus on planning, Northwestern Mutual found.
The widespread shortfall in retirement savings around the U.S. underscores the need to start saving early, Javeri Gokhale said. “To make your retirement goals realistic, you need to start early, and you need to do comprehensive financial planning when you start early.”