Data and Research

Millennials Overly Hopeful About Retirement

There’s a disconnect between Millennials’ retirement optimism and the amount they have actually saved.

By Corie Hengst editors@plansponsor.com | April 20, 2016
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About one in five Millennials feel hopeful when looking at their retirement savings account balance, yet 25.34 million of them haven’t even started saving, according to a Personal Capital Retirement Readiness Survey.

The survey finds that 40% of Millennials don’t have a single retirement savings account, and 73% don’t know their net worth. Despite this, 34% of Millennial retirement savers report feeling hopeful (more than any other emotion) when looking at the balance of their retirement savings account. This disconnect shows that Millennials may have a false sense of security around their current savings and are at risk of not reaching their retirement goals.

“Millennials are oblivious to the $14 trillion retirement crisis facing America,” says Personal Capital CEO Bill Harris. “They’re dangerously assuming that retirement planning can start tomorrow, instead of today. We’ve found that Millennials are banking on working just 15 years, and many plan to live on inheritances during retirement—it’s delusional … But there’s hope if we meet Millennials where they are now, whether that be battling student loan debt or searching for easier tech-driven solutions.”

According to the survey findings, Millennials expect to work for only 15 years and save $445,687 for retirement, and they anticipate receiving an average of $1.06 million from an inheritance—twice as much income as from their paychecks. 

Of course, not all Millennials are as optimistic about their retirement savings. Twenty-six percent of those who have already started saving say they feel uncertain, another 26% feel anxious and 15% feel hopeless when looking at their retirement account balances. 

More Millennial men than women report feeling emotional about their retirement savings account balances (63% vs. 43%, respectively), whether that means feeling hopeless, hopeful or confident. Twice as many Millennial men as women feel hopeless when looking at their retirement savings balance (12% and 6%, respectively). Despite this, Millennial men are almost twice as likely as women to say they feel confident (25% vs. 12%, respectively) and both groups report feeling hopeful as well (24% vs. 18%, respectively) when they look at their retirement savings account balance.

The study also finds that three times as many Millennial men than women with a retirement savings account would take money from their retirement savings early to pay for a big purchase including a vacation, boat, car or wedding. 

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