Gen X: Lonely Hearts, Empty Wallets

Unmarried Gen X investors show greater need for financial guidance

A report released Monday by the Insured Retirement Institute found that many Gen X investors lack retirement confidence and that marital status is an important indicator of how well prepared they are. More specifically, while 40% of married Gen Xers believe they can be comfortable through retirement, just 24% of single Gen Xers agree.

Overall, two-thirds of Gen X investors doubt they’ll have enough money to live comfortably in retirement or cover medical expenses, according to IRI. Plus, more than half of unmarried Gen X investors have less than $50,000 saved, compared with 27% of married investors.

However, almost twice as many married investors have at least $200,000 saved as unmarried investors, the study found. Also, married Gen X investors appear to be doing better, though there isn’t much cause for celebration.

“While we would expect the level of savings to be less than that of married GenXers, this level is still quite low,” according to the report. “However, the savings levels of married GenXers are also insufficient, even more so when compared to patterns seen among their unmarried counterparts.”

The report found that overall almost one-quarter of Gen X investors stopped contributing to their retirement accounts after the recession hit and 15% took early withdrawals from their 401(k)s. IRI found that single Gen X investors withdrew funds from their retirement plans at a greater rate than married investors.

Furthermore, married Gen X investors were more likely to say they were at least somewhat knowledgeable about finances and investing (58%) or have consulted an advisor (41%), while 56% of unmarried investors said they were not at all knowledgeable and only 20% have spoken with an advisor.

Another source of stress for Gen X investors is how they will pay for their children’s education. Almost one-third of investors say they aren’t confident they’ll be able to pay for higher education and 8% aren’t sure. Twenty-two percent stopped contributing to a college savings plan after the recession hit.

“While much of the focus as of late has been on the Baby Boomers who have just begun to enter retirement, 70 million Gen Xers are following right behind them and must not be overlooked,” said IRI President and CEO Cathy Weatherford. “The recession impacted their ability to not only save for retirement but also for their children’s education, compounding the financial pressures they will face in the years to come.”

While Gen X reports feeling a lack of confidence about retirement, they aren’t working very hard to prepare. Less than half have tried to determine how much they’ll need in retirement, and among savers, half have less than $100,000. Furthermore, the average age for retirement chosen by Gen X is 64, leaving many with a 20-year retirement they must plan for.

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