A report from the National Institute on Retirement Security shows that approximately 66% of people between ages 21 and 33 have nothing saved for retirement. People ages 21 and 33 are known as millennials. In a separate study conducted by the CNN, millennials don’t have anything saved for retirement because they believe that money should be spent elsewhere.
Some want to use their money to pay off student debt. Those who graduated during the recession worked low-wage jobs for a while until they’ve saved enough to go back to school and improve their prospects.
Others are trying to build their start-ups. Still others spend their money on rent and childcare. A good number are said to be building up emergency savings. In totality, millennials find it difficult to save up money in an account that they can’t touch for the next 30 years, despite the advantage of compounding interest.
On Student Debt
Alexis Nunley, 26, and her husband have prioritized paying off their student debt. Together, they have paid off nearly all of their $60,000 debt in just a few years. How did they do it? The couple lived with parents and are expected to move out this spring.
However, they are unsure if saving for retirement will become their priority once their loans have been paid off. The couple would like to buy a new home and maybe going back to school to get better jobs.
Limited Access to Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans
Walter Stern started saving for retirement when he turned 30, which was the age of eligibility for an employer-sponsored plan.
Stern’s former employer didn’t offer a retirement plan. He had to work for two years at his current job before he was eligible for a SIMPLE IRA, wherein his employer matches his contributions up to 3% of his pay.
Although access to employer-sponsored retirement plans is limited, millennials can still save up for retirement through the traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. These offer tax advantages as long as you don’t touch the money until you turn 59.5 years old.
Before he received a match, Stern thought that putting aside money for retirement wasn’t worth it. He had to pay off his credit card and student debt. He also had a mortgage to pay and childcare for two kids under the age of three.
A Conscious Decision
Ken Chester Jr., 32, has $8,000 in his bank account that will go toward his business ventures instead of saving for retirement. Chester acknowledges that saving towards retirement is a positive goal, but he has made a conscious decision not to do it.
One of Chester’s businesses helps international students, refugees and migrants settle in their new communities. Another tackles college affordability.
Since his projects don’t pull in a lot of money, Chester picks up contract work to make ends meet. Even if offered a retirement account, he chooses not to use it.
Chester hopes that one of his ventures becomes successful.