¡Que Onda Magazine!

Houston's oldest bilingual publication

Study Shows That Americans’ Target for Comfortable Retirement Hits Record High of $1.46 Million in Savings

A recent study released on Tuesday revealed a significant surge in the amount Americans believe they need to retire comfortably, reaching a record $1.46 million. The study, conducted by Northwestern Mutual’s 2024 Planning & Progress Study and based on a poll of 4,588 adults in January, highlighted a 53% increase from the $951,000 target reported in 2020 and a 15% rise from the previous year’s $1.27 million.

Despite this considerable increase in retirement expectations, the study found that Americans have not significantly increased their savings efforts. On average, U.S. adults have modestly decreased their retirement savings to $88,400 from $89,300 in 2023. This dip in savings widens the gap between retirement aspirations and current savings to $1.37 million.

Aditi Javeri Gokhale, Chief Strategy Officer and President of Retail Investments at Northwestern Mutual, commented on the findings, stating, “People’s ‘magic number’ to retire comfortably has exploded to an all-time high, and the gap between their goals and progress has never been wider.” Gokhale attributed this trend to the impact of inflation on retirement expectations.

The study further revealed disparities between retirement aspirations and actual savings across different generations:

  • Gen Z expects to need $1.63 million for retirement but has only saved $22,800 on average, resulting in a $1.61 million gap.
  • Millennials anticipate requiring $1.65 million but have saved only $62,600 on average, leaving a $1.59 million gap.
  • Gen X forecasts a retirement fund of $1.56 million but has saved an average of $108,600, resulting in a $1.45 million gap.
  • Boomers predict they’ll need $990,000 but have saved $120,300 on average, creating an $870,000 gap.

Even individuals with high-net wealth demonstrated a significant gap, expecting to require $3.93 million for retirement but only having an average of $172,100 saved.

Divergent savings strategies were observed across generations, with Gen Z leading in early retirement planning. The study noted that Gen Z typically begins saving for retirement at age 22, nearly a decade earlier than the overall average age of 31. Conversely, Boomers reported starting to save at age 37, while Millennials and Gen X began at ages 27 and 31, respectively.

Additionally, optimism about longevity and concerns regarding the future of Social Security have influenced retirement savings expectations. Kyle Menke, founder and wealth management adviser at Northwestern Mutual’s Menke Financial, emphasized the importance of planning for extended lifespans.

Despite these evolving retirement expectations, the study highlighted a lack of tax planning among Americans. Only 30% of respondents reported having a plan to minimize taxes on their retirement savings, indicating a crucial aspect often overlooked in retirement planning.

To address tax concerns, strategies such as strategic withdrawal from traditional and Roth accounts, charitable donations, and utilizing tax-advantaged health care accounts were recommended by the study.