Why Over 40% of Americans Aren’t Saving for Retirement

November 27, 2018, 8:55 PM UTC

Over 40% of Americans are not saving for retirement, according to new survey data from Stash—including over one third of those ages 45 to 65 years old, in what’s normally considered peak saving years.

This number rises to 50% when looking at only individuals ages 18 to 34. Apparently young adults aren’t saving despite the perhaps overly-stated advice that the earlier you start saving, the easier it will be to retire (thank you, compound interest).

According to Stash, who surveyed over 2,000 Americans online this month, 70% of those not saving for retirement say it’s because they don’t have additional income to spare.

In a nation of debt, this isn’t overly surprising: 40% of survey respondents said they’re not saving for retirement because they’re paying off debt. Across the country, there’s $1.4 trillion in federal student loans unpaid, in addition to Americans’ $1 trillion credit card debt.

For those who don’t feel the need to save for retirement, nearly 15% are offered a 401K through their employer, but choose not to take advantage of it. Another 50% of that group say they don’t save for retirement because that day is too far away, and they’d rather elect to live in “the now.”

Living in the present doesn’t mean you should ignore the future, however. About 35% of Americans believe the average person won’t be able to retire because they didn’t start saving early enough (another 30% blame low wages; yet another 30% say it’s because programs like Social Security won’t be enough or won’t exist).

Still, 80% of Americans believe they will be able to retire someday—regardless of if they’re currently saving or not.

Respondents were less optimistic about their colleagues. When asked about the ability of others to retire, nearly 80% said they will not be able to do so.

Then there’s the tragic realists: nearly 10% of Americans think they’ll never stop working. To avoid this category, start saving—even if it’s only a few bucks per week.