How Many Retirees Have No Savings: A Startling Reality Unveiled

How Many Retirees Have No Savings

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Many Americans approaching retirement age face a harsh reality: the possibility of having no savings to rely on during their golden years. With an increasing number of individuals falling into this category, it’s essential to understand the scope of the problem and the factors that contribute to this unsettling trend.

A staggering 35% of Americans have no money set aside for retirement, according to a FinanceBuzz survey released in January 2020. This lack of preparedness has vast implications for both individuals and the economy as a whole. Identifying the causes of insufficient retirement savings is crucial for those seeking to achieve financial freedom and security in their later years.

Make sure to check out our ultimate guide to the best retirement planning strategies for people over 40 for more information on this important financial topic.

State of Retirement Savings

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Retirees Without Savings

A significant number of retirees are facing their golden years without any savings to support them. According to a recent survey by Clever Real Estate, about 30% of retirees have no savings at all. This is a startling figure in a time when financial stability is more important than ever. How are these retirees expected to maintain their lifestyle and cover their expenses?

A lack of savings is not just a problem for today’s retirees but for future generations as well. Research from The Motley Fool reveals that only 55% of non-retirees have a 401(k) or 403(b), while 25% of Americans have no retirement savings at all. Taking these data into account, it is crucial for people to rethink their financial strategies before they reach retirement age.

Savings Disparity among Retirees

The amount of retirement savings varies greatly among retirees, further complicating the overall landscape. The average savings for retirees is $191,659, but there is a considerable range in terms of actual amounts. For example, those with a high school degree have an average retirement savings account value of $20,000, demonstrating a notable disparity in savings levels.

As financial experts have long suggested having at least $1 million saved for retirement, this growing disparity poses concern for individuals and the economy at large. In fact, some experts argue that the necessary savings amount may be closer to double that figure in certain cases. With the average retiree having only $170,726 saved, the gap between the recommended and actual savings is more evident than ever.

Factors Affecting Retirement Savings

How Many Retirees Have No Savings

Income and Social Security

Research shows that 49% of adults aged 55 to 66 have no personal retirement savings. One reason behind this alarming statistic is the over-reliance on Social Security benefits. However, it’s essential to understand that Social Security benefits only replace about 40% of your pre-retirement earnings, making it insufficient for a comfortable retirement. Income plays a crucial role in determining the amount one can save for retirement; those with lower income levels often struggle to build adequate retirement savings. So, if you’re in this age group, it’s time to reconsider the traditional financial advice and explore new investing options to attain financial freedom.

Age and Gender Factors

Age and gender also play a role in shaping retirement savings. For instance, according to a 2019 survey, 14% of Gen X-ers (ages 39 to 54) and baby boomers (ages 55 to 73) have not saved anything for retirement. Women, in particular, face retirement savings challenges due to lower average incomes and longer life expectancy. For those over 40, it’s crucial to reevaluate your current retirement savings strategy and adopt new methods to bridge the gap in savings.

Retirement Savings Vehicles

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In the pursuit of financial freedom, it’s essential to have a plan for your retirement savings. Diversifying your savings through various investment vehicles can help ensure a stable financial future. This section will discuss the following key retirement savings vehicles: Pensions and 401(k), IRAs, and Personal Savings.

Pensions and 401(k)

Pensions are becoming less common, but they can still play a vital role for those who have access to them. Pensions provide a guaranteed income for life, reducing the risk of outliving your savings. However, having all your eggs in one basket may not be the most secure approach.

401(k) plans are employer-sponsored retirement accounts that allow you to contribute a portion of your pre-tax salary to invest in a variety of assets (stocks, bonds, etc.). Many employers also offer matching contributions, effectively giving you free money towards your retirement. A 2019 study suggests that about half of American households had no savings in retirement accounts, including 401(k)s. Given that these plans can help build wealth over time, 401(k)s should be a top consideration for anyone seeking financial freedom.


Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) come in two main forms: Traditional and Roth IRAs. These tax-advantaged accounts can offer flexibility and control over your investments, with contribution limits, tax implications, and withdrawal rules that vary based on the account type.

  • Traditional IRA: Contributions to a Traditional IRA may be tax-deductible, and your investments grow tax-deferred until you withdraw the funds in retirement.
  • Roth IRA: Contributions to a Roth IRA are made with after-tax dollars, so you won’t get a tax deduction upfront. However, you’ll be able to withdraw your funds, including investment gains, tax-free in retirement.

Considering the tax benefits and investment options, IRAs can be a wise addition to your retirement planning strategy.

Personal Savings

Beyond the traditional retirement accounts mentioned above, personal savings play a crucial role in achieving financial freedom. This category includes regular savings accounts, investment accounts, and even physical assets like real estate. Building your personal savings can help you be prepared for unexpected expenses, provide additional income sources, and supplement your retirement savings in times of need.

Financial Challenges in Retirement

Financial Challenges in Retirement

Inflation and Expenses

Inflation can be a silent enemy for retirees, eroding the purchasing power of their savings over time. Have you considered how your budget might be affected by rising costs of living? To combat this challenge, retirees must carefully plan their expenses and consider investing in assets that have the potential to outpace inflation.

Unexpected expenses can also wreak havoc on a retiree’s budget. From home repairs to helping family members facing financial hardship due to COVID-19, these costs can quickly add up. Maintaining a well-structured budget and emergency fund can help minimize the impact of such expenses.

Investment Risks

As a retiree, you may feel that traditional financial advice no longer aligns with your goals. Navigating the investment landscape can be complex and risky, especially during market fluctuations. Working with a financial advisor who understands your unique situation can be a game-changer, providing tailored strategies to help preserve and grow your savings.

Retirees should take a balanced approach to investing, considering both growth and income-producing assets. This helps avoid overexposure to any single type of investment, reducing overall risk. Remember, staying informed and diversifying your portfolio are crucial steps in achieving financial freedom.

Healthcare Costs

One of the most significant financial challenges retirees face is the cost of healthcare. With premiums and out-of-pocket expenses continuously rising, it’s essential to factor healthcare into your retirement planning. Evaluating Medicare options, supplemental insurance, and long-term care insurance can be overwhelming, but doing so can save you substantial amounts in the long run.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and engaging in preventative care may also help mitigate healthcare expenses. Don’t underestimate the value of staying active and socially connected as well. Your health is an investment worth making.

Improving Retirement Preparedness

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Strategies for Savings

Are you concerned about being financially secure in your retirement? You are not alone. A Northwestern Mutual survey found that 15% of Americans have no retirement savings at all. It’s never too late to start implementing strategies to improve your retirement preparedness.

One key tactic is to prioritize saving, even if it means cutting back on non-essential expenses. Break down your savings goals into achievable milestones and consider automating contributions to your retirement accounts. Another effective approach is to diversify your investments, including stocks, bonds, and real estate, to balance risk and potential returns.

For married couples and parents: Remember to plan for both your retirement and your children’s future. Focus on balancing short-term and long-term savings, such as funding college education while also contributing to retirement accounts.


The reality of retirement savings in the United States paints a concerning picture, particularly for those looking to break free from traditional financial advice and find financial freedom. Many people, especially women, find themselves without sufficient retirement savings. Approximately 50% of women aged 55-66 have no personal retirement savings, compared to 47% of men.

So, what can you do to secure your financial future? One approach is to reassess your savings strategy and consider the advantages of alternative investment options. Diversifying your investments can help you create a more stable and resilient retirement portfolio.

It is also worth exploring the various investment vehicles available, such as real estate, stocks, and bonds, which can cater to different risk appetites and financial goals. Utilizing tax-advantaged accounts like IRAs and 401(k) plans might be another way to strengthen your nest egg.

Ask yourself: Am I maximizing all available resources to prepare for a comfortable retirement? As someone over 40 or already retired, it’s essential to reevaluate your financial strategy and ensure that it aligns with your long-term vision of financial freedom.

Remember, it’s never too late to start saving or adjusting your plans. Becoming proactive and informed about your options can empower you to make smarter choices to secure your financial future. A confident, knowledgeable, and pragmatic approach will help you navigate the complex world of finance and lead you closer to living the retirement of your dreams.

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