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Average retirement savings by age

There are many studies and surveys on this topic. Here is one more from the Survey of Consumer Finance (SCF) which is based on their 2016 data…the most recent they have. It is the average retirement savings by age, and as almost every study on this topic shows (including from SCF) Americans are woefully unprepared for retirement.

Of course each study is different and they all report different amounts saved. However each has a common theme, and that is Americans of all ages do not have enough money saved for rainy day funds, retirement, or really anything.

Age 35 and under – Only 42% have retirement accounts. This makes it challenging as those under 35, who do not have a retirement account, do not benefit from the magic of compounding. The median retirement savings is $12,300 for those households under the age of 35.

Age 35-44 Median retirement savings are $100,100. They also have more time for their money to work for them, so this groups is also missing out on many opportunities.

Age 45 – 54 – Median retirement savings are $82,600.

Age 55 to 64 – Median is $120,000. Pensions may help this group too. They may also benefit from government programs like social security, which may be be there for younger generations. See below.

Age 65 to 74 – Median is $126,000. Many of this group may have pensions…which no longer exist for the younger generation. So their lack of savings according to SCF may not be as dire.

As the data from SCF shows, Americans are not prepared at all for retirement. As we have written about multiple times, so many Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Even moderate to high earners often live check to check as they often spend every dollar they make, often on unneeded material items so they can “impress” people they do not even know. What is ironic is that about 30% of Americans want to retire early according to a study Paychex. And as I know from a first hand basis, no one in the world will be able to “retire early” with a couple hundred thousands dollars to their name…they need many, many times more money than that if you want to retire in your 30s or 40s and to actually be able to enjoy your life.

Low income families may also be struggling to save for retirement as every dollar they make goes to pay the household bills. They can also turn to free budgeting and non-profit agencies for suggestions on how to slowly, but steadily, build for retirement, and the advice is often free to them.

Sadly, there is no easy solution to all of this. We would just say do not fear investment losses from the stock market. People of all income levels need to cut back on unnecessary expenditures and live within their means. If your income right now is too low due to the career you are in, then look into job training, educational services, and other ways to increase your income. As the bottom line, according to SCF data and other sources, is that Americans are anywhere close to what they need to retire.


Jon McNamara is the CEO of needhelppayingbills.com, a company that he started in 2008 and that specializes in helping low income families as well as those who are in a financial hardship. He also found NHPB LLC, a company committed to helping the less fortunate. Jon and his team also provide free financial advice to help people learn about as well as manage their money. Every piece of content on this website has been reviewed by him before publishing and many of the articles he has personally written. Jon is the leading author for needhelppayingbils.

One thought on “Average retirement savings by age

  • March 25, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    Not surprising. Don’t know how an American will ever to be able to retire while trying to keep up with cost of living. Just my medications and day care cost many thousands/year not to mention my mortgage, food, subway and Uber fees and every other bill. I will be working too I am 75 and drop dead.


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