Retirement sounds terrific to Millennials, but they aren’t putting in the effort to get there. In a new report, adults born between the years of 1981 and 1999 say the ideal age they’d like to retire is at 61.
However, retirement savings data for the same set of Americans shows a whopping 66 percent have yet to put anything away for retirement. The majority who have managed to squirrel some of their income away toward retirement have balances under $20,000. A number far from making early retirement possible.
The average Millennial will live to their mid-70’s and 80’s, meaning more than a decade of retirement income needs to be saved by anyone under 40 hoping to leave the workforce at 61. And Millennials have been told since they were in grade school to not expect much of anything from Social Security.
Of course, there are plenty of socio-economic reasons for retirement savings among Millennials to be low. But their answer for what they consider their ideal retirement age belies an unrealistic expectation combined with an unwillingness to sacrifice now for their future benefit.
As with their homes, Millennials want right away what their parents and grandparents worked years if not decades for before they could afford nicer and newer. Barely a decade after the housing crisis and $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bailout, Millennials are being marketed to with home loans that require almost $0 in savings for a down payment.
Why save when you can take out a loan for the downpayment on top of your mortgage!
I can honestly see a situation in which Millennials will take these bad lessons in personal finance and apply them to retirement. Why save when you can borrow?
The idea of retirement at all for most Americans is relatively new in the last half-century. Now, the latest generation of adults aren’t just dreaming of retirement, but a lengthy one. That’s an excellent goal, but the majority of Millennials are proving to have no restraint to achieve that goal responsibly.
I can’t decide if it’s laziness or a generational nihilism due in part to permeation of taking on irresponsible amounts of debt at all levels of American life. Either way, it’s a disconnect between desires and reality, which unless that mindset can get shifted in the next 30 years, Millennials could be the worst-off retirees since World War II.