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‘I’ll Likely Die Before I Can Retire’ – Gen X, ‘The Forgotten Generation’ Is Struggling With ‘Virtually Nonexistent’ Retirement Accounts – The Average Gen Xer Has Only $40,000 Saved


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As Generation X edges closer to the traditional retirement age, with the oldest members born in 1965, a palpable sense of financial unpreparedness permeates this cohort.

Insight from a Fortune article featured on Yahoo Finance, fueled by responses from numerous Gen Xers, lays bare the anxieties many feel about their retirement readiness. In addition to being tagged with various monikers such as the “forgotten generation” and “the latchkey generation,” a significant portion of Gen X finds itself grappling with the reality of insufficient retirement savings.

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The challenge of securing a financially stable retirement is underscored by data shown in a report from the National Institute on Retirement Security, which signals a glaring disparity between the desired and actual savings among many Gen Xers. This sentiment is echoed in the Schroders 2023 U.S. Retirement Survey, revealing that over 60% of non-retired Gen Xers doubt their ability to achieve a comfortable retirement.

The survey highlights that the average Gen X household has amassed $40,000 in retirement savings, a figure drastically inadequate compared to the million-plus dollars financial experts recommend.

The narratives of individual Gen Xers further illustrate the depth of the retirement readiness crisis. “I’ve followed my dreams, as my generation was told to do, but found that some dreams cost more to follow than others,” writes one Gen Xer. “My savings are virtually nonexistent.” Another candidly shares, “I’ll likely die before I can retire. Fun stuff,” underscoring the dire financial outlook some face as they approach retirement.

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These personal accounts shed light on the myriad challenges that have contributed to the financial predicament facing Gen X. From navigating economic downturns and market crashes to adjusting to the shift from pensions to 401(k) plans, Gen Xers have contended with significant financial hurdles. Additionally, they bear the burden of higher student loan debts and healthcare costs compared to previous generations.

However, not all Gen Xers view their retirement prospects through a lens of pessimism. Some have successfully navigated the economic landscape, achieving financial security and even early retirement. These success stories, though less common, provide a glimmer of hope and a different perspective on the retirement readiness of Gen X.

The broader picture, however, remains one of concern and calls for action. Industry experts like Deb Boyden from Schroders highlight the precarious position of Gen X, being the first generation to predominantly rely on 401(k) plans.

While Gen X may not be prepared overall as a generation, they can employ targeted strategies to strengthen their retirement readiness. Incorporating the wisdom and expertise of a financial adviser into a retirement planning strategy could bolster Generation X’s efforts to achieve a secure and comfortable retirement.

Financial advisers play a crucial role in navigating the complexities of retirement savings, offering tailored advice that considers an individual’s income, assets and retirement goals.

Diversification stands as a cornerstone strategy for Gen Xers to mitigate risk and enhance potential returns. By spreading investments across a variety of asset classes, such as stocks, bonds and real estate, individuals can protect their portfolios from significant losses tied to any single investment. This approach is complemented by exploring alternative investments, including commodities or private equity, which can offer growth opportunities outside traditional markets.

Maximizing retirement savings is important,  particularly through vehicles like 401(k) plans and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). For those with access to a 401(k), making the most of employer contributions and taking advantage of catch-up contributions for those over 50 can substantially increase retirement savings. IRAs, both Traditional and Roth, offer unique tax advantages that can be tailored to an individual’s financial situation, with Roth IRAs providing tax-free growth and withdrawals, beneficial for those expecting to be in a higher tax bracket in retirement.

For self-employed Gen Xers, the retirement saving landscape includes distinct options such as Solo 401(k)s and Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRAs. A Solo 401(k) plan allows self-employed individuals to make contributions both as an employer and employee, significantly increasing the potential for savings. SEP IRAs offer a straightforward, high-contribution limit option for entrepreneurs, while a Roth IRA remains a flexible choice for those with variable incomes. For those seeking to rapidly accelerate their retirement savings, defined benefit plans can provide a pathway to save large amounts in a short timeframe, particularly beneficial for older business owners focusing on catch-up contributions.

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*This information is not financial advice, and personalized guidance from a financial adviser is recommended for making well-informed decisions.

Jeannine Mancini has written about personal finance and investment for the past 13 years in a variety of publications including Zacks, The Nest and eHow. She is not a licensed financial adviser, and the content herein is for information purposes only and is not, and does not constitute or intend to constitute, investment advice or any investment service. While Mancini believes the information contained herein is reliable and derived from reliable sources, there is no representation, warranty or undertaking, stated or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the information.

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This article ‘I’ll Likely Die Before I Can Retire’ – Gen X, ‘The Forgotten Generation’ Is Struggling With ‘Virtually Nonexistent’ Retirement Accounts – The Average Gen Xer Has Only $40,000 Saved originally appeared on

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