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If you've ever wondered how your retirement savings compare to your co-workers, you are in good company. The desire to know where you end up in the sea of retirement savers is natural and can either help you make further progress or make you feel satisfied. Regardless of how the numbers make you feel, they may not be the best measure of whether you are personally well on your way to retirement.
The 2019 Consumer Finance Survey shows that the average retirement savings of all families is $ 255,130. The median retirement balance for all families is $ 65,000.
If you use these numbers as a guiding star, you are likely to be in the same state as most of the country: unprepared for retirement.
These numbers are not particularly helpful on their own. There are a number of reasonable benchmarks for retirement planning, but how much money other people have is not one of them. Even breaking the numbers down by age will not give you a good idea of where your own finances should be. After all, age is just one factor in how much you should be saving for retirement – and not everyone who is the same age will retire at the same time.
But retirement assets tend to rise as they should with age – the closer you are to retirement, the more you should have tucked away. (If you're struggling to fund retirement accounts, our guide to saving you money will help.)
How much each age has saved for retirement
A little small print in advance: Since the averages of outliers can be heavily skewed – in other words, the savings above and below average in each group – we have also considered median balances. The median can often be a more representative number than the average, and you will find that the median numbers are well below the averages. (All data is from 2019 Consumer Finance Survey unless otherwise noted.)
It's also worth noting that both numbers include only those who have a retirement plan – there are many people of all ages who don't. In 2019, only around half of the families had a retirement account.
Average Retirement Plan: $ 30,170
Average Retirement Balance: $ 13,000
Let's start with millennials. You are used to being under the microscope. In 2019, 45% of families run by anyone under the age of 35 had retirement accounts, including IRAs, Keoghs, and certain employer-sponsored accounts such as 401 (k) s, 403 (b) s, and savings accounts.
Of the families in this age group who have retirement inventories, the mean of these holdings is $ 30,170 and the median is $ 13,000. In other words, 3,352 and 1,444 pieces of avocado toast, worth $ 9, respectively.
If you're unsure of how much to save for retirement, it's better to get an idea sooner rather than later – you don't want to retire without having saved enough.
35 to 44 years
Average Retirement Plan: $ 131,950
Average Retirement Plan: $ 60,000
That age range includes the oldest Millennials and the youngest Generation X. More than half (56%) of households this age run have retirement accounts, according to the data.
The average and median values of old-age pensions in this group are significantly higher than those of the under 35-year-olds. These are strong earning years alongside peak spending years. For those who have children in particular, the dollars can be spent on childcare payments, savings for college, and savings for retirement. If you want to increase that retirement plan, an IRA can be a great way to do it.
45 to 54 years
Average Retirement Plan: $ 254,720
Average Retirement Balance: $ 100,000
This group is still part of Generation X, with the oldest members around a decade past the standard retirement age. About 58% of households that are run by someone this age are retired, according to the SCF.
These can be top earning years, especially for men who see income growth through age 55, according to compensation research firm PayScale. The company's study shows that women at 44 years of age are ahead of the pack more than a decade earlier.
55 to 64 years
Average Retirement Plan: $ 408,420
Average Retirement Balance: $ 134,000
These are baby boomers, and the oldest of them are knocking on the door of retirement – just a few short years away from Social Security's definition of full retirement age. About 54.5% of households led by a baby boomer are retired.
65 to 74 years
Average Retirement Plan: $ 426,070
Average Retirement Balance: $ 164,000
The majority of these households are made up of people who are retired or at least of retirement age. As a result, many are at the stage where they are more likely to be spending savings than accumulating. According to the SCF, 48% of this age group have a retirement account.
See: My grandson says my financial advisor is misdirecting me and double charging me. What should I do?
After that point, the average and median retirement account values begin to decline, as does the percentage of people who have retirement accounts. For households owned by someone 75 years of age or older, the median retirement pension is $ 83,000, with an average of $ 357,920.
What do these numbers tell you?
The headline here: Most people don't save enough for retirement and retire with very little money hidden.
This is just one reason why average retirement savings are not a benchmark for someone your age. If you use these numbers as a guiding star, you are likely to be in the same state as most of the country: unprepared for retirement.
How much you should have saved and how much you should save has nothing to do with where others your age are. It all has to do with your income, planned retirement expenses, expected retirement age, and life expectancy.
If you want to find out how much you personally need for retirement, a retirement calculator can help. What if that calculator tells you that you are behind? An IRA is a good place to catch up.