For the group of adults ages 35 to 48 known as Generation X, the golden years of retirement will look a lot different than it did for past generations of retirees who often worked one or two jobs their entire careers, left the workforce at age 65 with a pension and spent the rest of their lives pursuing passions and leisure activities.
Weighted down with student loans, credit card debt and measly saving accounts, the vast majority of people from Generation X have come to believe the traditional definition of retirement is a romantic fantasy of the past, with more than 8 in 10 who participated in an Allianz Life study saying that a retirement starting at age 65 spent doing what you want is unrealistic.
“We surmise they will either work during retirement because they don’t have enough money, or they want to work because it keeps them engaged,” said Katie Libbe, president of consumer insights at Allianz Life, based in Minneapolis.
Allianz Life studied 2,000 Americans — including 1,000 baby boomers ages 49 to 67; and 1,000 Gen Xers — to determine what differences may exist between them.
Both groups feel they will have a lower quality of retirement than previous generations, but Gen Xers were much more hopeless about their ability to achieve retirement goals and about their overall financial situation than were their boomer counterparts. More than two thirds (67 percent) of Gen Xers agreed with the idea that supposed targets for how much you need to retire are way out of reach versus less than half of boomers (49 percent).
“It is widely reported that baby boomers are worried about their retirement, but the financial planning and retirement concerns of Generation X have gotten less attention,” Ms. Libbe said. “While our study confirms that many boomers still lack confidence about their future, it reveals alarming realities about the significant angst and pessimism Gen X feels regarding the current and future state of their finances.
“They’re the next generation that’s quickly approaching retirement and their hands-off approach to planning and preparation is alarming.”
Ms. Libbe said the Generation Xers who participated in the study were carrying an average $30,000 in credit card debt, and viewed their credit cards as a survival tool.
Each generation in the study believed they are burdened by more expenses, more uncertainty and more risk than their counterpart.
However, when it comes to jobs, money and retirement, even baby boomers agreed that Generation X has it much tougher planning for retirement, saving money, keeping a job, staying out of debt and getting a job.
“Gen X is very worried about retirement and it stems from what they have experienced in their working lives,” Ms. Libbe said. “They bought their houses during the housing bubble and they experienced two bubbles — the Tech Wreck and the Great Recession. And they also have more debt than other generations, either through student loans or their credit cards.
“We look at this generation and see how rough it’s been for them to get or keep a job due to recessions. They’ve found it hard to get out of debt and due to these things they are not saving as they should.
“Yet, the really surprising thing is they still believe retirement will work out. They believe they will figure it out when they get there.”
Tim Grant: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1591.
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