Americans haven’t been saving the recommended 10-20% of their incomes and simply aren’t prepared for retirement.
The median 401k for someone aged 55-64 (i.e. pre-retirement years) is only $61,738. Even the most frugal spender could only make that last a couple years in retirement.
In other words, for most Americans a comfortable retirement simply is out of the question. Instead they will continue to work, depend on social security and rely on family.
The dream of sailing through the Mediterranean or hiking in the Alps will remain a dream for most, as they work double-shifts as Wal-Mart greeters.
I get it. Life happens when you’re in your 20s, 30s and 40s.
There are bills to pay, things to buy, life to live. At that age, many people feel like they can’t save for retirement and believe they can make up for it later. However, people need to understand that when they spend money they’re making a tradeoff. Do they want that extra vacation or do they want to retire a year earlier? Do they want to upgrade their Toyota to a Lexus or retire 5 years earlier? When compounding is considered, those are real tradeoffs.
Most people I know don’t want to work forever. People want to stay busy and contribute to society, but they also want the freedom to pick and choose what they do. That requires money.
Unfortunately, as you can see by the tables below (source: Vanguard) most retirements are quite underfunded.