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Published on Sept. 30, 2023
By: Chris Neiger
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Retirement is a popular topic among Americans. And while all age groups have some level of interest in retirement topics, it’s those in mid-life — aged 40 to 59 — who are the most concerned about their retirement savings, according to a recent MIT AgeLab report.
Nearly 34% of midlifers were interested in learning about saving for retirement, compared to 23.7% for young adults and 14.8% for older adults.
Here’s why this age group is trying to learn as much as they can about saving for retirement, and what you can do if your retirement planning has fallen behind your own goals.
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Based on the survey, there may be two reasons why midlifers are more concerned about retirement savings than other age groups. The first is that they’re the most likely of the age groups to say that they don’t expect to retire because they won’t have enough money.
While most people were optimistic about their futures in the survey, midlifers were slightly more pessimistic about having enough money saved up. This may be because this age group is caring for their kids and aging parents, in addition to trying to navigate their careers, the survey noted.
And it’s more than just a psychological feeling for this age group. Half of people in the midlife age group report they are “just getting by” or “struggling to get by” financially, which is larger than any other age group — and only 57% believe they’ll be able to retire.
The report noted that this may be because midlifers manage multiple forms of debt, including mortgage and medical care, as well as saving for their kids’ education.
If you find yourself further behind on your retirement savings than you want to be, there are a few things you can do to put yourself in a better position:
The MIT AgeLab survey said that one-third of Americans said they don’t expect to be able to retire. But no matter your financial situation, having some money put aside for retirement is better than none.
For example, let’s say you’re older than 50 and max out your IRA contributions for the next 10 years — putting $7,500 aside annually. The IRA account limits often increase for inflation, but we’ll keep it the same just to keep the calculations simple. If you start with $5,000 in retirement savings, add $7,500 each year for 10 years, and let your money grow in a retirement account, earning a historical average of 10% per year, you’ll have over $132,000 in retirement savings at the end of that time.
That’s why it’s important to assess your retirement saving options, whether that’s opening a Roth IRA or talking to your employer about a 401(k) matching program. Taking the first step toward putting some retirement savings aside — or boosting your current contributions — will allow that money to grow for years.
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Chris Neiger is a full-time freelance writer with more than 10 years’ experience covering personal finance and investing-related topics. He was also a writer for the BBC for three years and marketing manager for two non-profits.
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