Retirement as we know it may be set to disappear, as younger people look for ways to finance surviving into old age.
But extinction? Surely not.
However, according to the Merrill Edge Report 2016, that might just be in the offing, as workers change how they plan and save for retirement and how they intend to pay for it.
Millennials in particular represent a shift in attitude that includes very unretirement-like plans, although GenXers too are struggling with ways to pay their way through their golden years.
That’s tough, considering that most Americans neither know nor correctly estimate how much money they might need to keep the wolf from the door during retirement — or even to retire at all.
Here’s a look at 9 reasons why retirement as we know it today might be a terminal case — unless things change drastically, and soon.
Most Americans have no idea how much money they will need in retirement. (Photo: iStock)
Most Americans have no idea how much they might need to retire, which leaves them behind the eight ball when trying to figure out when or whether they can afford to do so.
Of course, it’s hardly surprising, considering how many are members of the “sandwich generation,” who find themselves caring for elderly parents while at the same time raising kids, or even trying to put those kids through college.
With soaring medical costs on one end and soaring student debt on the other, not to mention parents supporting adult children who have come home to roost, it’s hard to figure out how much they’ll need to meet all their obligations, much less try to save some of an already-stretched income to cover retirement savings as well.
Not only do people not know how much they’ll need in retirement, they also don’t know how to figure it out. (Photo: iStock)
8. Poor calculations
We already know most workers don’t know how much they’ll need in retirement — but it’s not just a matter of ignorance. They don’t know how to figure it out, either.
More than half — 56 percent — figure they’ll be able to get by during retirement on a million dollars or less, while 9 percent overall think up to $100,000 will see them through.
And 19 percent just flat-out say they don’t know how much they’ll need.
Considering that health care costs alone can cost them a quarter of a mil during retirement, the optimists who think they can get by on $100,000 or less and even those who figure $100,000–$500,000 will do the job are way too optimistic — particularly since saving for medical costs isn’t one of their top priorities.
Related: 17 unexpected expenses in retirement
People who feel like they can’t achieve their retirement financial requirements may get discouraged or give up. (Photo: iStock)
It’s pretty hard to get motivated about something if you think it’s not achievable — and that discourages a lot of people from saving for retirement.
Those who have a “magic number” that they think will see them through retirement aren’t all that optimistic about being able to achieve that level of savings, with 40 percent of nonretired workers saying that reaching their magic number by retirement will either be “difficult” or “virtually unattainable.”
Hopes for a lottery win figure in to many retirement plans. (Photo: iStock)
When you don’t believe you can do it on your own, what else is left? Sheer dumb luck, to quote Professor Minerva McGonagall at Hogwarts after Harry and Ron defeated the troll.
Only instead of magic wands, 17 percent of would-be retirees are sadly (and amazingly) counting on winning the lottery to get them to their goal.
Younger workers in particular think side jobs will supplement their retirement savings. (Photo: iStock)
5. The gig economy
Retirement? What retirement? Millennials in particular think they’ll need side jobs in the gig economy to keep them from the cat food brigade.
In addition, exactly half of younger millennials aged 18–24 believe they need to take on a side job to reach their retirement goals, compared with only 25 percent of all respondents. They don’t believe that just one job will cut it any more.