🏦 How much money does the average Gen Xer have saved for retirement? 🏦
A majority of Gen Xers (56%) have less than $100,000 saved for retirement, although 55% believe they will need $500,000 or more to retire comfortably.
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Generation X, or “Gen X” for short, is the cohort of Americans born from 1965 to 1980. They have a reputation as “the forgotten generation” between boomers and millennials. Many economic analyses of generations focus on boomers and millennials, primarily to contrast millennials with their parents’ generation.
And Gen X does feel forgotten: 55% of Gen X say they feel like the forgotten generation. Despite feeling like they are overlooked, Gen X has perhaps silently shaped popular culture as we know it. They are also the first generation to experience the level of targeted marketing that is now the norm.
With more Gen Xers approaching retirement age, it’s vital to look at how this “in-between” generation feels about retirement. They make for prime consumers, but what does that mean for their long-term finances?
Our previous research found that 48% of retirees think they’ll outlive their current savings. If current retirees are feeling a financial crunch, it's important to investigate if younger generations are feeling it as well.
To find out how Gen X feels about their retirement finances and the possibility of retirement, we surveyed 1,000 Americans born from 1965 to 1980 about their personal finances and how that impacts their retirement plans. Read on to learn more about Gen X’s retirement outlook.
💰 Gen X Retirement Statistics
The Average Gen Xer Has Less Than $100,000 Saved for Retirement
A majority of Gen Xers (56%) have less than $100,000 saved for retirement. More than half (55%) believe the average worker should have more than $500,000 saved to retire comfortably, but in reality, only 9% have this much saved. It's recommended that workers have $555,000 saved before retiring. Gen X is severely behind this figure.
We also found that 42% of Gen X doesn’t understand how much the average person should have saved for retirement, by their own admission. More than 1 in 4 (28%) think the average worker should actually have $1 million or more saved before retiring.
Gen X recognizes that retirement is expensive, but only 71% of them are currently saving for retirement.
To make matters worse, 22% of Gen X have nothing saved for retirement, and 20% have never actually saved for retirement. About 58% of Gen X say they have less saved at their current age than they expected. Most Americans in this generation were taught about the American Dream, but many may be realizing that the American Dream is more expensive than ever.
A Third of Gen X Contributes No Monthly Income Toward Retirement
About 29% of Gen Xers aren't putting anything toward retirement right now, and nearly two-thirds (64%) are saving 10% or less of their monthly income for retirement. For context, financial advisors suggest workers aim to save at least 15% of their pre-tax income each year for retirement, which includes any employer match.
The average employer 401(k) match is at an all-time high of 4.7%. This indicates that companies will contribute up to 4.7% of an employee's income toward their retirement savings if the worker does the same. If Gen X takes advantage of employer matching, they could maximize their retirement savings.
Retirement Considered Unaffordable for Most of Gen X
Gen Xers aren't investing in retirement simply because they don’t want to. Sadly, 64% of Gen Xers who stopped saving for retirement did so because they could no longer afford to.
Additionally, 73% of the Gen Xers who have never saved for retirement did so because they couldn't afford to.
Many Gen Xers stopped saving for retirement primarily because of debt. Credit cards, loans, and pay-now-save-later plans are common ways for Americans to survive inflation. However, each of these financial assistance programs involves some form of interest.
The average interest rate for credit cards in the U.S. is around 24.15% to date. High interest rates mean Americans who borrow money get bogged down with even higher balances, which they struggle to pay off. Throw in late fees, and it’s apparent why Gen X would prioritize paying off debt over retirement savings.
Gen X Women Less Likely to Save for Retirement
We found that Gen X women are 53% more likely to have never saved for retirement than Gen X men. This may be because women tend to earn less than men over the course of their lifetimes. The more income you earn, the easier it is to save for retirement.
Women earners, particularly those in Gen X, are also more likely to be strapped with caring for children and other family members, which significantly impacts their earning potential and capacity to save for retirement.
We also found that Gen Xers who are married or in long-term partnerships are 20% more likely to currently save for retirement than their single peers. Gen X is more likely than previous generations to have dual-income households. This makes it easier for couples to save for retirement, whereas single individuals largely have to rely on themselves to keep their household running.
More Than 1 in 10 Gen Xers Think They'll Never Be Able to Retire
About 11% of Gen Xers believe they will never be able to retire, while 53% worry they’ll never retire.
About 69% of Gen Xers want to retire by age 65, but only 37% think they'll actually be able to retire by then. Most believe they'll actually be able to retire sometime after 65.
However, retiring after 65 isn’t looking too possible for a significant swath of Gen X. More than one-fourth of Gen X (27%) aren't confident they'll be able to retire before age 70. Another 1 in 5 Gen Xers (19%) aren't confident they'll be able to retire before 80.
Just 4% of Gen Xers don't want to ever retire, ideally. Some popular positive reasons for not retiring are that they enjoy working (17%) and work gives them purpose (13%). Ten percent say they would actually get bored in retirement.
Nearly 40% of Gen X Aren't Confident They'll Be Able to Afford Retirement
Nearly 40% of Gen X (39%) aren't confident they'll be able to afford retirement.
Of Gen Xers who believe they will never be able to retire, 73% say they won’t retire because they can’t afford to. Nearly two-thirds of Gen X (64%) also believe their income isn’t high enough to adequately save for retirement.
Nearly three-quarters of Gen Xers (72%) say they have reduced or sacrificed their retirement savings at some point to pay for other things, and 35% report having to sacrifice saving for retirement to cover basic necessities.
Other expenses cutting into their retirement savings are credit card bills (26%) and medical bills (21%). The latter is often a non-negotiable that cannot be put off in favor of saving for retirement.
Gen X Supports Universal Basic Income Despite Uncertainty
About 59% of Gen Xers support Universal Basic Income (UBI), but only 30% of Gen Xers believe it will be a reality in their lifetime. UBI is a financial support program provided by a government in the form of standard, recurring payments to individuals without the need for pre-qualification.
Many proponents of UBI suggest that it could be an alternative to our current retirement model for American workers. UBI would remove much of the stress associated with saving for retirement because income would be provided regardless of whether one remains in the workforce.
Despite assurances that Social Security is stable in the country, Gen X is worried this isn’t really the case. Nearly 60% of Gen X believe Social Security benefits will run out during their retirement. This makes initiatives such as UBI all the more appealing.
Although more than half of Gen Xers (58%) say they understand how much they need to save for retirement, they may not be as informed as they think. Only 38% say they have a complete understanding of personal finance, and even fewer (29%) say they have a complete understanding of retirement savings.
More than half of Gen Xers (57%) have no understanding of Bitcoin or cryptocurrency in general. Fewer than 10% claim full understanding.
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency have been touted as ways for the average American to take control of their finances and invest in new opportunities. However, it’s also proven to be a volatile marketplace and, ultimately, more popular among millennials than other generations.
A Large Majority of Gen X Is in Debt
Almost 80% of Gen Xers report carrying some form of debt, and 52% of that group are carrying at least $10,000 in non-mortgage debt. Nearly half of all Gen Xers (47%) say they do not have their finances under control.
Only 9% of Gen Xers have never had debt. About 62% of this group say they've stayed out of debt by living within their means, 51% say they don’t borrow money in general, and 41% say they always pay off their credit card balances monthly. A significant portion admits that part of their ability to avoid debt is because they earn enough income (28%).
For those not so lucky, the most common form of non-mortgage debt among Gen X is credit card debt. Nearly half (49%) of Gen X has credit card debt.
Of Gen Xers with credit card debt, a majority (55%) carries at least $5,000 in credit card debt. The most common amount they carry is somewhere between $1,000 and $4,999 (29%). Research indicates that Gen X has more credit card debt than other generations, primarily because of the rising costs associated with raising children and caring for elders.
The majority of Gen Xers (63%) say it will take 5 years or less to pay off their debt, but 10% don't think they will ever pay off their debt.
Although there are ways to pay off debt, even in retirement, they are daunting. Experts recommend actions such as ceasing to take on more debt, getting an additional job, or downsizing one’s home. However, each of these can be difficult when you’re approaching retirement age or managing a multiperson household like most of Gen X.
Gen X Blames Boomers for Financial Woes
Gen X thinks it was easier for boomers to save money for retirement. More than three-fourths of Gen X respondents (76%) feel that their financial journey was as hard as, if not harder than, the financial journey of boomers.
What’s more, 44% of Gen X blames boomers for the poor economic state of the U.S.
Younger generations see boomers as out-of-touch bosses who underpay employees while they earn pensions. This stereotype about boomers becomes more interesting when we look at how Gen X feels about their own employers’ roles in helping them retire. A whopping 62% of Gen X doesn’t believe their employer does enough to help them with retirement savings.
Overall, a majority of Gen X (54%) doesn’t see themselves as more fiscally conservative than other generations, and many may even appreciate being the forgotten generation if it keeps the heat on boomers.
Inflation Is a Major Impact on Gen X Retirement
More than two-thirds of Gen Xers (69%) report that inflation has negatively impacted their retirement plans, and 29% say they’re quite nervous about the impact inflation is having on their everyday cost of living.
More than half of Gen Xers (52%) say recent inflation is the most significant global financial event in their lifetime, surpassing the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2008 recession.
With inflation impeding Gen X's ability to save for retirement, it’s no wonder they are resentful toward boomers about the current economic climate.
60% of Gen X Feel Stressed About Retirement
Americans continuously experience stress over their finances. Gen X is no exception. About 60% of Gen X say they are stressed about their retirement savings, and 62% also worry they may outlive their savings.
Even more sobering, 68% of Gen X worries they will have to reduce their standard of living in retirement. More than half (54%) are also concerned they won't be able to afford housing in retirement amid rising home prices without a significant dip in sight.
One thing Gen X isn’t worried about is AI or other forms of technology making them “obsolete” as workers before they’re able to retire. About 67% of Gen X don’t see the promotion of AI as a threat to their job before they're able to retire. They are much more concerned with rising costs than their employability.
Part of the financial stress Gen X experiences is related to regret. Nine in 10 Gen Xers (90%) have financial regrets. Their biggest regret? Not saving enough (43%).
Gen X's top top five financial regrets are:
Not saving enough (43%)
Getting into debt (34%)
Not investing enough (33%)
Spending too much on nonessentials (26%)
Not living within their means (20%)
Gen X isn't alone in their regrets. Most Americans have some form of financial remorse. However, learning more about Gen Xers' regrets can prevent future generations from experiencing the same.
80% of Gen Xers Wishes They Saved Sooner
About 80% of Gen Xers wish they started saving earlier for retirement. Although it’s ideal to start saving for retirement in your 20s, most of Gen X (67%) started saving after age 30. A large segment of Gen X (34%) actually didn’t start saving until they were over 40.
More than half of Gen Xers (58%) have less saved for retirement than they thought they would when they were younger. More than 1 in 3 (34%) have much less.
Growing up in homes with parents who received pensions and other stability-building retirement plans may have duped Gen Xers into thinking that saving for retirement would be a breeze. However, 14% of Gen X says they wish they had asked for more financial help, but that begs the question: Was Gen X offered the financial help they deserve?
How Can Gen X Relieve Retirement-Related Stress?
Financial planning can help Gen Xers prepare for retirement and maintain their standard of living. Those who haven't done so should consider starting now. Gen X is in their prime earning years and nearing retirement, with unique financial pressures, such as having to support parents and children.
Although there is some uncertainty about what the future holds for Social Security and retirement reform, Gen X can find some peace of mind by focusing on what they can control regarding their financial future.
Use our calculator to find out how much you will need to start saving for a comfortable retirement. Our calculator provides insight into how much you’ll need to realistically save as well as the influence inflation could have on your retirement plans.
The proprietary data featured in this study comes from an online survey commissioned by Clever Real Estate. One thousand people born during the years 1965 through 1980 were surveyed March 8-9, 2023. Each respondent answered up to 21 questions related to their personal finances and retirement plans.
Since 2017, Clever Real Estate has been on a mission to make selling or buying a home easier and more affordable for everyone. 12 million annual readers rely on Clever's library of educational content and data-driven research to make smarter real estate decisions, and to date, Clever has helped consumers save more than $160 million on Realtor fees. Clever's research has been featured in The New York Times, Business Insider, Inman, Housing Wire, and many more.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Generation X is the generation of Americans born during the years 1965 through 1980.
Generation X has been defined as the “forgotten generation” because they lack the cultural and media attention of boomers and millennials. Many Gen Xers feel like they are an in-between generation. Although Gen X tends to be more socially liberal than boomers, some research indicates that they may be one of the fastest generations to become more conservative as they age, comparatively.
Most Gen Xers grew up amid a period of political and economic turmoil, whereas boomers grew up during an era of great cultural and social transformation. Boomers tend to be more optimistic and idealistic, while Gen Xers are more pragmatic and independent. Gen Xers emphasize work-life balance and personal fulfillment, but boomers often place more importance on financial security and employment security.
Some key figures about Gen X retirement are:
60% of Gen X say they are stressed about their retirement savings.
29% of Gen X isn’t contributing anything toward retirement right now.
11% of Gen Xers believe they will never be able to retire.
Only 37% of Gen X believes they’ll be able to retire by age 65.
3 Quarks Daily. "You Are More Than The Sum Of What You Consume: Generation X And Consumer Society."
Fidelity. "How much do I need to retire?."
National Women's Law Center. "The Lifetime Wage Gap, State by State."
Investopedia. "Younger Generations More Bullish on Cryptocurrencies."
CNBC. "Generation X carries the most credit card debt, study shows. Here’s how to get those balances down."