Retirement Goal Expectations Versus Reality: How Americans Stack Up

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Saving for retirement is one thing, achieving your goals in your golden years is another.

This is where the worry sets in.

Among older workers, only 34% of baby boomers and 26% of Gen Xers believe they are on track with their retirement savings, according to a recent Bankrate survey.

Younger workers are more likely to say they are where they need to be. In fact, 45% of Gen Z and millennial workers feel somewhat optimistic.

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And yet, Gen Z workers make up the largest cohort of non-savers, Bankrate also found.

The average 401(k) balance among baby boomers is $220,900, according to the latest data from Fidelity Investments, the nation’s largest provider of 401(k) plans.

Gen Xers have saved $153,300 on average, while millennials have $48,300 in a 401(k). For Gen Z, the average balance is $8,100.

There’s often a disconnect between what people think they need for retirement and how much they put aside, said certified financial planner Douglas Boneparth, president of Bone Fide Wealth in New York.

“There is a dilemma between expectations and reality,” he said.

How much Americans think they need for retirement

Overall, Americans expect to need $1.25 million to retire comfortably, according to a separate study from Northwestern Mutual.

However, what $1 million means to one household versus another depends on lifestyle spending, risk tolerance, and other factors, such as Social Security payments and access to insurance. property, said Boneparth, who is also a member of CNBC’s advisory board.

Those who feel on track to achieve their retirement goals are more likely to work with a financial advisor and have a diverse mix of assets, including stocks and bonds, according to another report from Country Financial.

They are also much more likely to have at least $100,000 in a retirement savings account, according to the report.

How to find out your pension number

There are some simple rules of thumb, such as saving 10 times your income before retirement age and the so-called 4% rule for retirement income, which suggests that retirees should be able to safely withdraw 4% of their investments ( adjusted for inflation) each year in retirement.

However, these guidelines have their flaws, according to Chelsie Moore, director of wealth management at Country Financial.

To get a clear picture of your situation, “it’s important to work with a financial advisor to discuss your particular situation and goals to determine how much you need to save,” Moore said.

“In a world where there are many retirement calculators, we often take too broad an approach,” Boneparth added.

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