21% of Americans Have Not Started Saving for Retirement

BY Rachel Cagle
Featured image for “21% of Americans Have Not Started Saving for Retirement”

Americans feel under-​prepared for the financial realities of retirement, according to new data from Northwestern Mutual. Nearly eight in 10 (78%) Americans are "extremely" or "somewhat" concerned about affording a comfortable retirement while two thirds believe there is some likelihood of outliving retirement savings.

These fears are substantiated by further data highlighting dramatic savings shortfalls and ebbing confidence in social safety nets.

  • One in five Americans (21%) have NO retirement savings at all
  • One in three Baby Boomers (33%), the generation closest to retirement age, only have between $0-$25,000 in retirement savings
  • Three quarters of Americans believe it is "not at all likely" (24%) or only "somewhat likely" (51%) that Social Security will be available when they retire
  • Nearly half (46%) of adults have taken no steps to prepare for the likelihood that they could outlive their savings

In fact, only 10.9% of U.S. adults plan on paying for financial/​retirement services within the next year, according to AudienceSCAN.

"As financial implications of retirement become increasingly complex, inertia just isn't an option," said Rebekah Barsch, vice president of planning for Northwestern Mutual. "The good news is that it's rarely too late to start. In fact, we often compare financial and physical fitness because the hardest part is taking the first step. However, once people commit to a strategy and start seeing positive results, they're motivated to meet and even exceed their goals."

Concerns about financial security in retirement are leading people to work longer. In fact, more working Americans anticipate retiring at 70 years or older (38%) than in the more traditional 65–69 age range (33%).

According to AudienceSCAN, 43.6% of Financial/​Retirement Planning Clients are over the age of 55.

Among the more than half (55%) of Americans who believe they will have to work past age 65 from necessity, 73% cited "not enough money to retire comfortably" as the dominant driver.

Other reasons mentioned include:

  • Social Security not being sufficient to take care of their needs (61%)
  • Concerns over rising costs like healthcare (52%)

For those who plan to work past 65 by choice, disposable income (55%) and professional satisfaction (54%) were near equal motivators. This is a notable contrast to 2015 Planning & Progress Study findings where career enjoyment was the leading driver (66%) followed by interest in additional income (60%).

"Continuing to work later in life should be a personal choice not a mandatory requirement for survival," continued Barsch. "Proactive financial planning can be the difference between a desired and a default retirement lifestyle."

But how can you reach Americans with that mindset? TV is the best way. According to AudienceSCAN, while the 45.1% of these consumers who get most of their local news through the TV were doing so, 69.4% saw ads that led them to take action within the past year. This past year, this group was also 36% more likely than other adults to take action after seeing newspaper ads and 33% more likely to react to magazine ads.

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.