Middle-Class Americans Living With Regret About Retirement Savings

Most middle-class Americans look at their retirement savings and see a pile of regrets. That’s according to a new study that finds one-third (34 percent) of middle class respondents are not currently saving a cent for retirement, while a majority (72 percent) wish they had started saving earlier in life. 

Median retirement savings dropped $5,000 from $25,000 in 2013 to $20,000 in 2014, according to the fifth annual  Wells-Fargo Middle-Class Retirement study. Pollsters conducted 1,001 phone interviews with Americans between the ages of 25 and 75 who have a median household income of $63,000.

In a new survey question added this year, 22 percent said they would rather “die early” than live without enough money for a comfortable retirement. 

Across all age groups, respondents expressed serious doubts about their abilities to accumulate enough savings: Nearly half (48 percent) of non-retirees said they are not confident that they can save enough “to live the lifestyle they want” during retirement. 

“This lack of confidence jumps to 71 percent for non-retirees between the age of 50 and 59,” according to the study.

Respondents in that 50-to-59 age bracket are saving less each month — a median of $78 — compared to younger respondents aged 30 to 49, who are saving a median of $200 a month.

Older Americans, aged 50 and up, also have higher expecations for how social security will factor into their retirment than do respondents on the whole. A majority of survey respondents (70 percent) said they don’t view social security as a primary source of retirement funding.  

By contrast, the survey finds, “almost half (46 percent) of non-retirees in their 50s think social security will be their primary source of income, as do 56 percent of non-retirees between the ages of 60-75.”

Most respondents (70 percent) have access to a 401(k) or an equivalent savings plan at work, and 93 percent of that group are kicking in contributions to those plans. The median savings difference between those who have access to a 401(k), and those who don’t, is stark:


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