A new survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies about Generation X called “Generation X workers: Retirement reality bites unless answers are implemented” reveals a lot about this often forgotten generation.
Gen Xers are usually defined as those born between 1965 and 1978. The survey describes them as the “401(k) generation” because they “entered the workforce coincident with the introduction of 401(k) plans and the decline of defined benefit plans.”
The study found that most Gen Xers are still recovering from the Great Recession that lasted from 2007 to 2009, with 74 percent of workers saying that they were negatively affected by it. While 12 percent were laid off, 25 percent had their work hours or salary reduced. “Even higher percentages say their home valued declined (35 percent) or values of investments declined (37 percent),” according to the findings.
While some of Gen Xers will start turning 50 next year, the study found that only one in four, or 24 percent, say that saving for retirement is their greatest financial priority right now.
More financial education needed
With 51 percent of Gen Xers basing their estimate of their retirement savings goal and needs on a “guess,” and two-thirds (65 percent) of Gen Xers saying that they “don’t know as much as they should about retirement investing,” it is clear that there is a dire need for financial education and advising.
The study made some recommendations that you can use to advise Gen Xers:
- Evaluate the financial situation: Make a full financial checkup.
- Calculate retirement savings needs, develop a plan and write it down: Make sure to include living expenses, healthcare needs, government benefits and long-term care.
- If the employer has a sponsored retirement plan, make sure to take full advantage of matching employer contributions, or deferring more if that’s possible.
- Start the conversation with family and friends about retirement expectations and risks.
The survey was conduected between February 21 and March 17, 2014 among 1,120 full-time and part-time Gen X workers.
You can read the full study here, or check out the highlights in our infographic below.