Fifteen million GenXers have hit the big 5-0, but most of them aren’t prepared for retirement.
In fact, according to a Personal Capital study, 34% of Gen Xers said they haven’t saved anything at all. At 39%, Millennials aren’t faring much better, but time is on their side to still give their retirement savings a boost.
Given that 56% of Gen Xers surveyed also believe they need more than a million dollars to retire, the future isn’t exactly looking bright for the latchkey kids. It’s not that this generation hasn’t been financially successful; it’s that many fall in the “Sandwich Generation.” They not only need to provide for their children, but their aging parents as well.
Making matters worse is GenX’s average debt of $125,000 – many purchased homes at the peak of the mortgage boom, right before it busted. For many, it’s taken more than 10 years since the financial crisis to actually gain some equity in their homes.
Here are a few pitfalls Gen Xers should avoid if they want to build their retirement savings.
Not Using Employer Retirement Match Plans: It can be one of the least “painful” ways to save. Be sure to take advantage of any employer 401(k) or some other sponsored retirement matching program offered. Think of it as BOGO free for your retirement savings. Another bonus? Older GenXers can take advantage of the additional $6,000 catch-up contribution for those over 50. That’s in addition to the total annual 401(k) contributions of $18,500 for 2018.
Putting others first: Whether it’s your kids’ college fund or your parents’ bills, you need to make your financial security your top priority. It may seem harsh, but if your finances aren’t enough to cover you through retirement, how are you going to be able to help anyone? Do you really want to burden your kids with covering your debt? The kindest thing you can do is build your savings so you can help everyone you love in the long-term.
Not putting your raise toward retirement: If you’ve been doing well with your current salary, then putting the raise away for your golden years is another way to save without feeling like you are sacrificing a lot.
Being pessimistic: Don’t assume that it’s too late to make a plan and stick to it. The good news is that GenXers are in their prime earning years, so you can more easily make up for lost time. It’s never too late to start.