Here’s How Much Americans Think They’ll Need to Retire Comfortably

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Woman thinking about her retirement finances
ThirtyPlus /

Americans say they know just how much money they need to accumulate to retire comfortably: $1.1 million.

Unfortunately, less than one-quarter of workers — 24% — believe they will get near that milestone.

Those are the rather glum findings of research by Schroders, a European investment management firm. The company commissioned a survey of 1,000 U.S. investors nationwide who were between the ages of 45 and 75.

While some investors in the survey believe they will get a fair way toward that $1.1 million, many more predict they will end up far short of the brass ring.

Among survey respondents, 56% expect to accumulate less than $500,000. And in that group, 36% expect to pile up less than $250,000 in savings.

As investors grow closer to retirement, their hopes for a “comfortable” retirement nest egg of $1.1 million dim even more, the survey found.

More than half — 54% — of investors between the ages of 60 and 67 who are still working expect to save less than $250,000 for retirement.

In fact, more than one-third of these workers — 35% — say their best hope of attaining a “dream retirement” is to win the lottery.

Sadly, the pessimism older workers feel about achieving their financial goals is likely justified, if today’s retirees are any indication.

The survey also included people who already are retired. Among this group, 57% said they had less than $250,000 saved when they stopped working.

Given today’s surging inflation, it’s not surprising that 44% of retirees say their expenses have been higher than they anticipated. Just 8% say their expenses are lower than expected.

A combination of a lack of savings and higher-than-expected expenses appears to have soured many retirees on their golden years. Just 3% of retirees say they are “living the dream.” A bit more than one-third — 37% — have a “comfortable” retirement.

Meanwhile, an unsettling 60% of retired survey respondents described their post-work life in one of the following ways:

  • “Not great, not bad”: 37%
  • “Struggling”: 18%
  • “Living the nightmare”: 5%

How to avoid an unhappy retirement

The survey results are especially sad because, for many of the respondents, it likely did not have to be this way.

Less than one-quarter — 23% — of respondents report having a written retirement plan. An additional 40% have done some planning but don’t have a formal plan. More than one-third — 37% — have skipped planning altogether

Crafting a solid retirement plan is the best way to achieve your retirement hopes and dreams. Because this survey focused on adults who are 45 and older — rather than including young adults — it brings into sharp focus how failing to plan is likely to end in failure.

Fortunately, there is still time for all adults — even those who are older — to better their situation. One great way to begin is to enroll in the Money Talks News course The Only Retirement Guide You'll Ever Need.

This 14-week boot camp is intended for those who are 45 or older, but anyone can benefit from the lessons.

Taught by Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson, the course will provide you with such wisdom as:

  • How to invest to reach your retirement goals and never outlive your savings
  • How to score up to $12,000 more in Social Security benefits every year
  • How to stay in top shape and manage your medical costs