Since 2013, millennials’ retirement savings have nearly doubled, while baby boomers and Gen Xers have seen their median retirement accounts surge by 60 percent, according to a new survey by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.
Before anyone gets too comfortable, however, consider that just 16 percent of baby boomers, people born between 1946 and 1964, said they are very confident they will be able to retire comfortably, according to the survey of 6,372 U.S. adults.
And today’s median retirement savings are far short of levels needed to replace a high percentage of workers’ pre-retirement income. Men reported having nearly three times the amount of retirement savings than women. Across all age groups, men reported median savings of $123,000, compared with women’s median savings of just $42,000.
“The disparity between men’s and women’s savings is quite shocking,” said Catherine Collinson, the organization’s president.
Women’s median savings inched up about 24 percent from $34,000 five years ago. During that time, men’s median savings rose 81 percent.
What to take away from all this? Collinson suggests making it personal.
“The last few years we’ve seen extraordinary growth in financial markets, but we’ve also seen people taking loans and early withdrawals from retirement accounts, which inhibit their growth,” she said.
In that spirit, consider your circumstances and whether you are truly on track.
Think back five years and remember how much was in your retirement account at that time.
Has your balance grown as fast as a target-date mutual fund? (The five-year average annual return for the Vanguard Target Retirement 2030 Fund, for example, was 8.35 percent as of May 31.)
That’s just one benchmark, and with steady contributions an account should be growing by more than just the rate of investment growth. But did you raid your account for a personal emergency? Stop contributions because of a job loss or some other crisis? Incur a big, unplanned expense that crowded out your ability to save?
Now, think about the next five years. Where do you want to be? If you are several years from retirement age, think realistically about how much your savings could grow and about how to make sure you’re moving forward every year, even if it’s only by a little. You may not be miles ahead, but you will be ahead.
Janet Kidd Stewart writes for Tribune Content Agency.