The Bankrate promise
At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for .
Whether your retirement is decades away or right around the corner, chances are you’re wondering how much money you’ll need and whether the amount you’ve been saving is adequate. In fact, if you think you’re not on track to retire comfortably, you’re not alone: Currently, more than half of Americans (56 percent) feel they’re behind on their retirement savings, Bankrate’s retirement savings survey found.
The good news: No matter how old you are, there are things you can do now to boost your nest egg significantly. We’ll go over some key retirement savings statistics from Bankrate surveys and provide you with tips for boosting your retirement fund, whether you’re a seasoned saver or just starting out.
Key retirement savings statistics
- More than one in five adults (21 percent) said their biggest financial regret is not saving for retirement early enough. (Bankrate’s financial regrets survey)
- Of all U.S. adults who don’t feel completely financially secure, 41 percent say their insecurity is due to insufficient retirement funds. (Bankrate’s financial freedom survey)
- Of all U.S. adults who say money has a negative impact on their mental health, 39 percent say it’s due to feeling unprepared for retirement. Additionally, 27 percent say it’s been the cause of increased concern over the past year. (Bankrate’s money and mental health survey)
- Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of people say that being able to retire is part of the American dream. (Bankrate’s financial security survey)
- Of all U.S. adults with children ages 18 or older, 43 percent say they sacrifice their retirement to support their adult children. (Bankrate’s financial independence survey)
Is your savings on track with your retirement planning?
Of all working U.S. adults, 20 percent said they feel slightly behind on their retirement, and 37 percent feel significantly behind where they should be, according to Bankrate’s 2023 retirement savings survey. Of those who feel behind, 60 percent are baby boomers, 69 percent are Generation X, 49 percent are millennials and 42 percent are Generation Z. In total, 56 percent are feeling behind on retirement savings — which is nearly unchanged from last year’s survey in which 55 percent reported feeling behind.
Among age groups, Gen Xers are the least likely to feel they’re right on track with retirement savings, at just 14 percent. However, overall retirement awareness has grown over the years: In 2021, 16 percent of people said they don’t know where they stand with their retirement, compared to just 10 percent in 2022 and only 7 percent in 2023.
When it comes to the amount people feel they should save, 32 percent of workers believe they need more than $1 million to retire comfortably, Bankrate’s latest retirement savings survey found.
Ultimately, there are steps that people can take, no matter their age, to help fuel a retirement that meets their expectations — even those who are in retirement already.
For younger workers or savers, the best option is to start early, or as early as possible to maximize the power of compounding. This can make a huge difference in dollars to the tune of six figures over the long-term. For others, a bit of a Hail Mary pass might be to delay retirement, seeking to work longer, even if only part-time. One key is to maximize contributions to 401(k) accounts, and to utilize catch-up provisions where and when available.— MARK HAMRICK | BANKRATE SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST
Retirement savings contributions
When asking how much people were contributing to retirement savings this year (2023) as compared to last year (2022), the survey found:
- More than two-thirds (36 percent) are contributing around the same amount as they were last year. However, 22 percent said they neither contributed to retirement last year nor this year.
- Nearly two-thirds (31 percent) of parents or guardians of children under 18 are contributing more to retirement this year than last year, versus only 18 percent of parents or guardians with children over the age of 18. People without any children land in the middle, with 24 percent contributing more now than last year.
- Gen Z and Millennials are more likely to contribute more to their retirement savings in 2023 over to 2022, compared to Gen X and boomers.
Note: In the above graph’s results, the group surveyed and the questions asked differed over some years. Those surveyed in 2020 and 2021 were asked, “How much, if at all, are you contributing to your retirement savings now compared to before the COVID-19 breakout?” In 2019, the group surveyed included those employed full time or part time, whereas currently it includes those groups as well as those temporarily unemployed. All of the percentages pertain to people who answered “more” when talking about how much they’re saving over the previous year or years.
Bankrate’s take: One-quarter (25 percent) of people say that they don't know how much they need to save to retire comfortably. While there's no simple answer as to how much you should save, consider how long you'll need your retirement account to last, how long you have until retirement and what kind of investment returns you can expect.
“Retirement savings efforts need to peacefully coexist with other components of our personal financial goals, including saving for emergencies and paying off debt,” Bankrate’s Hamrick says. “By seeking to live beneath our means while working and saving for retirement, there’s an increased chance that we’ll be able to maintain that standard of living when the time to stop working arises. Otherwise, limited retirement savings could force a more spartan lifestyle, giving us little choice.”
How to build savings to put towards retirement
In 2022, the average household earned $94,003 before taxes and spent $72,967, according to the most recent Consumer Expenditure Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Significant expenses included housing, transportation and food. More than three-quarters (78 percent) of people’s income was devoted to living expenses.
Ways to increase your retirement savings each year can include choosing to buy a less expensive car or a more affordable house, as well as changing your spending habits for everyday items such as groceries, as well as for discretionary expenses such as travel.
One measure that can boost your savings significantly over time is making extra mortgage payments to bring down both your principal and interest. Another way to ultimately save thousands of dollars is to forgo trading up your house for a larger one, which would increase your mortgage bill and cost more to maintain.
The amount you need for living expenses — and how much you’re able to save — depends on factors such as income and family size. No matter your circumstances, however, you’re likely able to find ways to cut costs to help increase your savings rate.
“Having a plan, including a retirement savings goal, is key,” Hamrick says. “Utilizing the broad array of tools and options, ranging from an online retirement calculator, to in-person financial planning, can go a long way in boosting both confidence and results.”
Best savings accounts
The best deposit account for you depends on your individual needs and circumstances. Some popular interest-earning accounts include:
- High-yield savings account
- The best high-yield savings accounts are currently earning annual percentage yields (APYs) that outpace the rate of inflation, making them a safe place to earn some interest on your funds. What's more, these accounts afford quick and easy access to your money, making them a good place for your emergency fund.
- Certificate of deposit (CD)
- You may find a CD that earns a more competitive rate than a high-yield savings account, although CDs typically require you to lock up your money for a set term. CDs can be a good option for funds you won't need access to until the CD term's maturity date. Accessing the money before a CD matures usually results in an early withdrawal penalty.
- Money market account
- A money market account commonly affords the best of both worlds in earning a competitive yield while providing some check-writing capabilities and a debit card.
- Interest-bearing checking account
- While money market accounts typically impose limits on your check writing and debit card use, an interest-bearing checking account typically doesn't limit such transactions — and it earns a rate of return. Note that most interest checking accounts earn significantly lower yields than savings accounts, CDs and money market accounts, however.
Common retirement savings questions
When it comes to Social Security, you can begin collecting benefits as early as age 62, although you’ll receive your entire benefit if you wait until your full retirement age. The full retirement age is 67 for those born in 1960 and later. For those born between 1955 and 1959, the full retirement age is 66, plus two months for each year past 1954. And for those born between 1943 and 1954, the full retirement age is 66.
How much you should save for retirement depends on factors such as how long you predict you’ll need your retirement savings to last, how long you have until retirement and what kind of investment returns you expect to earn. Earning a solid return on your investments can drastically reduce how much principal you’ll have to take each year.
How long your retirement savings will last depends on how much money you’ve accumulated as well as what sort of lifestyle you’re living in retirement. The less you spend on things such as housing, transportation, food and travel, the longer your retirement nest egg will last.
If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, sign up for this tax-advantaged account and be sure to contribute enough to take full advantage of any employer match that’s provided. Another tax-advantaged retirement account option is an individual retirement account (IRA), which can be a good option for those whose employers don’t offer a 401(k) account.
Those who want to plan for retirement on their own have access to free tools such as online retirement calculators, and those who prefer some help can seek out a financial planner.