If you’re an American worker feeling behind on your retirement savings, you’re far from alone, according to a new survey.
More than half of working Americans (55%) feel they are behind on saving for their retirement, including more than a third (35%) who feel “significantly behind” and 20% who feel “slightly behind,” according to a survey released Monday by Bankrate.com.
Meanwhile, just a quarter of respondents stepped up their retirement contributions this year versus last year, while 16% cut their contributions. Just over a third (34%) are contributing the same amount. A worrisome 24% did not save for retirement last year and are not contributing again this year.
Only 20% of those surveyed say they are right on track, and just 15% think they are ahead of where they should be. This includes 8% who feel “slightly ahead” and 7% who feel “significantly ahead.”
“Getting on track begins with utilizing tax-advantaged retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs, maximizing the free money that comes from an employer match, and increasing contributions as your pay rises,” Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com, said in a statement. “The auto-escalation provision in some workplace plans is a seamless way to automatically increase the amount you’re putting away at regular intervals.”
McBride added that inflation was overwhelmingly the reason why workers cited for failing to add to their retirement accounts by more than a 2-to-1 margin (54%) over any other single response. Other reasons include stagnant or reduced income (24%), new expenses (24%), debt repayment (23%), a desire to keep more cash on hand (22%) and market volatility (18%).
“People typically stop putting money into 401(k)s at times like this because it’s painful to be adding money while seeing account balances decline,” said David Scranton, CEO of Sound Income Group. “In reality, this is the most important time to continue to contribute because of dollar-cost averaging and thereby buying more shares per pay period than you normally would.”
Generationally speaking, Gen Z workers, those ages 18 to 25, are the only generation to be evenly split between feeling ahead (31%) or behind (30%) on retirement savings. Every other generation is overwhelmingly more likely to say they are behind, and that likelihood increases with age, the survey said.
Finally, when it comes to variance among income groups, households earning $100,000 or more are the only ones that have fewer than half saying they are behind on retirement savings, but those that are behind (46%) still outnumber those that are ahead (23%) by a 2-to-1 margin.
“It’s all about priorities when it comes to retirement savings. It is really hard for most American workers to find extra money each year to start saving for retirement or increase their savings rate,” said Marc Schmeeckle, retirement plan consultant at SageView Advisory Group. “But, with planning, a little sacrifice and a focus on long-term success over short-term satisfaction, most employees can find room in their budget to save a little more each year. They need to, their future selves will thank them.”