Even though it appears that young workers today can look forward to less benefits from government programs and pensions when they retire, they don’t seem to be bothered enough to start saving.
Forty-eight percent of those aged 18 to 30 have zilch in their savings accounts, according to a GenForward poll conducted by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago. Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research collaborated.
While some of those in the research sample would still be in school, those at the other end of the spectrum are doing no better. In the age group 25 to 30, the great majority had nothing set aside for retirement. All this is occurring at the same time that traditional pensions offered by employers are disappearing, leaving future retirees dependent on their own resources.
Contributing to the problem are new Social Security rules that keep increasing the age limits for participants. It used to be possible to apply for full SS benefits at age 66. Now it is 67. The rising generations have less faith in the federal retirement program than did their parents. Only 5 percent say they have confidence in the program and 28 percent are “somewhat confident.” That leaves well more than half who are not counting on Uncle Sam to underwrite their retirement.
Still, the young people look at the situation through rose-colored glasses, expressing confidence that they will be able to maneuver through retirement okay.
Many are relying on company-sponsored savings plans such as 401(k)s to see them through. One young man who took a finance course in college, was alerted to begin saving at age 20 to secure his retirement. He didn’t begin until several years later, but at least has the concept in mind. He and his wife both have 401(k)s. Some of the younger set reported taking second jobs to give them a savings boost.
There is no simple formula for deciding how much you need to squirrel away for retirement. Depends on when, where and the lifestyle you anticipate. Fidelity suggests as a rule of thumb that you dedicate 15 percent of your current income to that future need. Some young workers have looked at their personal situations and expect to be working beyond usual retirement age — until they are 70 or more.
Some of the confidence these younger generations exhibit is founded in the knowledge that they are just getting started in their careers. They expect to increase their earnings as time passes and to have more leeway for saving. But based on well-founded common wisdom, about half of them are already behind the curve and they may wake up to find themselves retired — and broke.