Higher prices are forcing many Americans to reconsider their budgets, as the country deals with one of its worst inflationary waves in 40 years.
Inflation in the U.S. is currently sitting at 8.3%, led by price surges for fuel, food, and housing. Gas prices alone are currently averaging $4.67 a gallon, forcing many Americans to adjust their spending habits and make big lifestyle choices to cope with rising prices. For some, it’s hitting one of the biggest lifestyle choices of all: retirement.
A full quarter of workers are now postponing their retirement as inflation forces more and more Americans to dip into their savings accounts, according to a new report by BMO Harris Bank, which found that 36% of Americans have already seen their savings hit by inflation.
“Consumers must think differently about their finances in this inflationary environment,” Paul Dilda, head of consumer strategy for BMO Harris Bank, said in a company statement.
Younger Americans and millennials have fewer savings and are more likely to buy big-ticket items such as a home or a car, putting them on the front lines of the inflation battle. But the biggest purchase of all is your golden years.
The new report by BMO Harris found that older Americans on the verge of retirement are feeling the crunch of higher prices, which have rewritten the rules of personal finance planning and budgeting.
Consumers nearing retirement age say they are now dining out less, cutting back on shopping, and driving their cars less frequently.
For many aspiring retirees, the writing has been on the wall for months, ever since prices began surging earlier this year. Around one in 10 Gen Xers or baby boomers who were nearing retirement age had already delayed leaving the workforce or were seriously considering doing so, according to a March survey conducted by Nationwide Insurance.
Inflation has long been a source of concern among potential retirees, and many are beginning to consider the dream of a comfortable retirement increasingly unreachable.
Only 22% of Americans this year feel like they have enough saved for a comfortable retirement, down from 26% last year, according to a survey by asset management firm Schroders. The survey was conducted in February, before the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates to combat inflation.
More than half of the respondents in the Schroders survey said that they expected to have less than $500,000 in savings by the time they retired, well below the average $1.1 million people surveyed said was an ideal retirement fund. The main concerns among hopeful retirees at the time were that inflation would continue to rise and the stock market might eventually contract and wipe out more of their assets.
The fears over inflation have more or less held true, and the stock market isn’t helping matters. After a strong 2021 rebounding from the early pandemic downturn, all three major stock indexes—the S&P 500, Nasdaq, and the Dow Jones industrial average—appear to be entering bear market territory, down 14%, 24%, and 11%, respectively, from the beginning of the year.
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