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1 in 3 Americans Have Less Than $5,000 in Retirement Savings

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Financial security in retirement is a key issue for many Americans, according to Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning & Progress Study.

Nearly eight in 10 Americans are “extremely” or “somewhat” concerned about affording a comfortable retirement, while two-thirds believe there is some likelihood of outliving retirement savings.

The study finds that these fears are substantiated.

One in three Americans have less than $5,000 in retirement savings and one in five have no retirement savings at all, according to the study. One in three baby boomers surveyed had less than $25,000.

Moreover, three-quarters of Americans believe it is “not at all likely” or only “somewhat likely” that Social Security will be available when they retire.

Despite this, less than half (46%) of adults have taken no steps to prepare for the likelihood that they could outlive their savings.

“As financial implications of retirement become increasingly complex, inertia just isn’t an option,” said Rebekah Barsch, vice president of planning for Northwestern Mutual, in a statement. “The good news is that it’s rarely too late to start. In fact, we often compare financial and physical fitness because the hardest part is taking the first step. However, once people commit to a strategy and start seeing positive results, they’re motivated to meet and even exceed their goals.”

The study also finds that these concerns about financial security in retirement may be leading people to work longer. According to the study, more working Americans anticipate retiring at 70 or older (38%) than in the more traditional 65-to-69 age range (33%).

Among the more than half (55%) of Americans who believe they will have to work past age 65 out of necessity, 73% cited “not enough money to retire comfortably” as the dominant driver.

Other reasons mentioned include Social Security not being sufficient to take care of their needs (61%) and concerns over rising costs like health care (52%).

“Continuing to work later in life should be a personal choice, not a mandatory requirement for survival,” Barsch said in a statement. “Proactive financial planning can be the difference between a desired and a default retirement lifestyle.”

The 2018 study is based on an online survey of 2,003 U.S. adults conducted from March 7 to 19 (and an oversample of 601 interviews with millennials age 18-34). Data were weighted to be representative of the U.S. population based on Census targets for education, age, gender, race/ethnicity, region and household income.

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