Non-mortgage debt in the U.S. — $13.2 trillion and counting as of the fourth quarter, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — is impairing Americans’ ability to save for retirement, LIMRA reported Wednesday.
As many as seven in 10 workers in a LIMRA survey said they held some type of non-mortgage debt, but only 31% of these were saving for retirement outside the workplace, compared with 69% of workers without non-mortgage debt.
LIMRA noted that non-mortgage debt included home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and car loans.
Non-mortgage debt weighs most heavily on millennials, just 20% of whom reported saving for retirement outside where they worked. Gen Xers are not much better off, with 34% doing so.
In contrast, 55% of baby boomers with non-mortgage debt said they saved outside the workplace.
LIMRA suggested that their debt load caused millennials and Gen Xers to feel less motivated to accumulate non-workplace retirement savings.
Here’s how the three generations are preparing for retirement, according to other research.
The insidious effects of non-mortgage debt also influence workers’ attitude about debt, the LIMRA survey showed.
Six in 10 respondents said paying down non-mortgage debt hurt their efforts to save for retirement, and one in two said they were spending too much of their annual income to pay down debt.
Millennials, in particular, said they were dedicating too much of their annual income to debt reduction: 59%, compared with 46% of Gen Xers and 39% of boomers.
LIMRA said financial advisors could offer their clients debt management services that balance debt repayment with saving for retirement regardless of the amount of debt they owe.
In addition, LIMRA’s previous research has shown that half of consumers want education on debt reduction, retirement planning and general budgeting.
Fifty-one percent of millennials told researchers they did not understand enough about IRAs to contribute to one. A third of Gen Xers and a fifth of boomers also said they lacked enough understanding to contribute to an IRA.
BrightScope recently released a list of large 401(k) plans with high overall quality.
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