Retirement is coming for Generation X, and they’re starting to feel anxious. Sandwiched between baby boomers and millennials, most Gen Xers were born between 1965 and 1980. The oldest Gen Xers will turn 67 and be eligible for retirement at the end of the decade in 2030.
Not everyone’s thrilled about approaching that life milestone, however. Most Gen Xers worry about the affordability of retirement as interest rates climb and the threat of another recession looms. Here are 17 stats about Gen X retirement from Clever Real Estate’s latest study that will make you want to boost your 401(k) contributions.
1. 9 in 10 Gen Xers Have Financial Regrets
Regrets around retirement plans are becoming more common for Gen Xers. 9 in 10 Gen Xers (90%) have financial regrets.
Financial remorse hits Gen Xers especially hard as they retire into economic circumstances that are radically different from when they entered the workforce. Inflation means any retirement dollars saved will not go as far towards everyday purchases. Factor in debt, a poor investment strategy, and overspending, and you have a great picture of what has led to Gen X's financial regrets.
2. 43% of Gen X Wish They Had Saved More
Almost half of Gen X (43%) said their most significant financial regret is not saving enough. Retirement is expensive, and the exact amount needed depends on myriad factors such as pre-retirement income, pension plans, local cost of living, and unplanned costs. The general guidance for retirement savings
42% of Gen X also admit to not understanding exactly how much the average person should have saved for retirement. It’s hard to set savings goals when the targets seem to move further out of reach.
3. One-Third (33%) of Gen X Regrets Not Investing More
Investing in the market has become a primary vehicle for building wealth and retirement savings. One-third of Gen Xers (33%) regret not investing more.
In the past, it may have been enough to invest in a traditional 401(k) plan to meet retirement savings goals. With inflation and escalating living costs, Gen X’s investments in employer-provided retirement plans may not be enough to comfortably retire. Gen Xers with cash on hand can consider other investment opportunities, like investment properties, for additional income.
4. Most Gen X (67%) Started Saving for Retirement After Age 30
About two-thirds of Gen X (67%) waited to save for retirement until after they turned 30. Your 30s are widely considered the start of your prime earning years.
Still, many Gen Xers grew up seeing working adults have pensions and may have underestimated how early they needed to start saving to benefit from compound interest.
5. 60% of Gen X Report Stress Over Retirement Savings
Most Gen Xers (60%) report experiencing some level of stress over retirement savings. Finances can be an emotional burden for any generation, but Gen Xers nearing retirement age can alleviate that stress by identifying ways to control their circumstances.
Even if you’re worried that you didn’t start saving early enough, starting late is better than not starting at all. Gen X can still take advantage of employer-provided 401(k) programs or contribute to Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) to bring peace of mind.
6. 58% of Gen X Say They Have Less Saved Than Expected
More than half of Gen Xers (58%) expected to have saved more for retirement as they near eligibility. Gen X grew up during a period of economic turmoil, first with recessions in the 1970s and 80s, and later with the housing market crash and the Great Recession in 2008. Gen Xers who entered the workforce in the late 1980s and 90s may have believed they’d be able to earn and save more during a period of relative economic stability.
7. Most Gen Xers Have Less Than $100,00 In Retirement Savings
Gen Xers are stressed about retirement with good reason: 56% have less than $100,000 saved for retirement. Financial experts recommend a minimum of $550,000 saved to retire comfortably, and 55% of Gen Xers agree.
Why has Gen X saved so little? Many were unable to save as they paid off high-interest debt, such as credit card bills, loans, and layaway programs that ease financial strain during recessions. Some who have bought and sold homes may have lost cash on capital gains taxes. These high-interest rates can keep individuals in a spiral of debt that forces consumers to prioritize solving an immediate problem over saving for a future goal.
8. Almost One-Quarter of Gen Xers Have No Retirement Savings
Retirement is closer for some Gen Xers than for others: 22% of Gen X report having no retirement savings whatsoever. Inflation and the rising cost of living have put retirement contributions out of reach for many. Almost two-thirds of Gen Xers (64%) who stopped saving for retirement altogether say they could not afford to.
Gen Xers without a retirement nest egg can explore life in states with lower costs of living and lower personal income tax, like Florida.
9. Gen X Women Are 53% More Likely to Have No Retirement Savings Than Gen X Men
Financial inequities extend to retirement savings. Gen X women are 53% more likely to have nothing saved for retirement than their male counterparts. Women tend to earn less than men during their time in the workforce, especially if they take on childcare responsibilities, which makes it harder to save for retirement.
Women also generally have a lower level of financial literacy, especially among marginalized groups, which makes it doubly challenging to build toward a comfortable retirement.
10. Married or Partnered Gen Xers Are 20% More Likely to Save for Retirement Than Singles
Married Gen Xers have a slightly more optimistic outlook when it comes to retirement. Married or partnered Gen Xers are 20% more likely to have saved for retirement than their single peers.
Gen X embraced dual-income households more than any previous generation. The benefits of joint finances and cost-sharing for married and partnered Gen Xers made it easier for them to set aside retirement savings.
11. Only 37% of Gen Xers Think They’ll Be Able to Retire at 65
Most Gen Xers want to retire by 65, but only 37% think they’ll be able to. This pessimistic outlook could be because of the historic inflation seen in the past few decades, which has driven up the cost of living in already expensive states like California. The rising cost of everyday goods means any money saved won’t go quite as far in 2023.
12. 1 in 5 Gen Xers Worry They’ll Work Into Their 80s
For some Gen Xers, 80 is the new 65. About 1 in 5 Gen Xers (19%) are not confident they’ll be able to retire before they turn 80. It’s not uncommon for Baby Boomers to work into their 60s and 70s. Because Social Security is not enough for most to retire on, Gen Xers without savings may worry they’ll work past their retirement eligibility.
Even if Gen Xers expect to work later in life, their health may not always allow it. More than half of Gen X (53%) doesn’t expect to be able to retire before age 75, and 1 in 10 Gen Xers believe retirement is out of reach altogether.
13. Almost Half of Gen Xers (44%) Blame Baby Boomers for Economic Climate
Gen X joins millennials in their critique of Baby Boomers. Almost half of Gen X (44%) blames the Baby Boomer generation for contributing to the adverse economic climate. Most Gen Xers (76%) feel that boomers had an easier financial journey than they faced.
Many boomers benefited from pension plans and lower home prices that allowed them to build wealth in the housing market. Gen X entered the workforce too late for employer pensions, and about two-thirds of Gen X (62%) doesn’t think their employers contribute enough to their retirements.
14. Most Gen Xers (80%) Have Some Form of Debt
Almost all Gen Xers (80%) carry some kind of debt. Keeping personal debt under control is an important part of personal finance management. Some debt, like a mortgage on a home, can be a useful part of a financial picture. Other debt, like credit cards or student loans, can quickly hamper efforts to save for retirement.
15. 52% of Gen Xers with Debt Have at Least $10,000 in Non-Mortgage Debt
Among the Gen Xers with debt, over half (52%) have at least $10,000 in debt that doesn’t come from a mortgage. This non-mortgage debt can be credit cards, car payments, personal loans, or other debts that accrue interest.
Having $10,000 of non-mortgage debt can feel overwhelming at any time, especially for those on the brink of retirement eligibility.
16. Almost Half of Gen X (49%) Carries Credit Card Debt Each Month
Credit card debt was the most common type of non-mortgage debt Gen Xers reported carrying. Almost half of Gen X (49%) has credit card debt they carry month-over-month.
Credit cards have some of the highest interest rates of any type of debt. The average credit card interest rate in 2023 is around 24%. Many cards also have annual fees that add to the total cost of a card.
17. About Half of Gen X (47%) Feel Their Finances Are Out of Control
Mounting debt and low savings balances mean almost half of Gen Xers in debt (47%) say they don’t have their finances under control.
Gen Xers feeling overwhelmed can start by finding small ways to control their finances, like setting a budget or exploring a home sale. Taking incremental steps can help Gen Xers feel less stressed as they near retirement.