Editor's note - You can trust the integrity of our balanced, independent financial advice. We may, however, receive compensation from the issuers of some products mentioned in this article. Opinions are the author's alone, and this content has not been provided by, reviewed, approved or endorsed by any advertiser.
The Employee Benefit Research Institute recently released its 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey (pdf download). It’s not a pretty picture.

The survey covers a lot of retirement issues, including confidence you’ll have enough to retire (most aren’t so confident), what age you think you’ll retire (in 1991 11% said 65; in 2012 it jumped to 37%), to why people retired when they did (more than half were forced to retire for various reasons). What interested me the most, however, was the rate at which people are currently saving for retirement. Actually, it saddened me more than anything else.

Here are the stats:

  • Only 66% of workers report saving for retirement (down from 75% in 2009));
  • Even among retirees, only 68% have ever saved for retirement;
  • The percentage of workers who are currently saving for retirement is just 58% (down from 65% in 2009));
  • Sixty percent of workers have saved less than $25,000
  • Thirty percent of works have less than $1,000 saved

It’s the total savings that concerns me the most. Here is a chart from the report showing the amounts saved by year:

Savings Reported by Workers

If you’re reading this and either aren’t saving for retirement or saving enough, here are some quick tips–

  1. If you have a job with a 401(k), start saving today. Even just $25 a month is a step in the right direction, and you’ll miss the money a lot less than you think (remember, it’s before tax savings so your take home pay won’t go down as much as you think).
  2. If you don’t have a 401(k) option, start an IRA. You can open an IRA at Betterment for free, get a $25 bonus, and save as little as $25 a month. And it’s easy to set your investing options and let Betterment do the rest.
  3. If you think you can’t possible save anything, check out my 99 Painless Ways to Save Money. It’s a eBook you get for free when you sign up to my newsletter (which is also free). You can probably save more than you think!

Author Bio

Total Articles: 1118
Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Article comments

Stephanie says:

I find it somewhat disingenuous, though, that defined benefit plans are excluded. I have been on 2 of these, and am in a very strong one now, which I expect to provide me with about 50% of my top income level when I retire. Certainly, I am saving for retirement independently as well, but since a big chunk of my income is already going into the defined benefit plan, why in heaven’s name is that not included and counted as part of the savings?

This year, I don’t think we’ll save a much since I’ve gone 100% self-employed now. I hope to catch up next few years with SEP IRA soon.

Rob Berger says:

Brent, SEP IRA’s are great because you can save a lot ore money than with a traditional IRA or 401k.

Deacon says:

I agree with trying to start investing as early as you can but what if you have debt? Shouldn’t you pay that off first?

Rob Berger says:

Deacon, a great question and one I get a lot. So I decided to answer it in a new article–https://www.doughroller.net/investing/should-you-pay-off-debt-or-save-for-retirement/.

Raysa says:

Great information. I have too many friends who aren’t taking advantage of being in their 20s and being at a great point in their lives to save. These stats are frightening but encouraging; they let me know I’m on the right path and ahead of the curve. Thanks!

Rafita says:

1) Do you think you’ll have enough money for a cotmorfable retirement?I have no idea.None of us are guaranteed a tomorrow.There is no certainty that I will even be around at that time in order to retire!The money that I save today is put there for a rainy day, and is put there to eventually give away or pass on to heirs… but to say when that rainy day arrives and how I would expect to dispense of that money could be anybody’s guess right now. It seems to me that the important thing to do is to save money for unexpected contingencies. I see my savings as a way of being self-insured.2) Do you plan on receiving the social security benefits that have been promised to you?I would hope so, but by that time, the amount would probably be insignificant due to inflation and the system collapsing on itself. By that time, I would expect to hear the government say “We’re broke. Yeah, it’s not much that you’re getting, but it’s better than nothing”.3) What % of your income do you save today for retirement?I save as much as the tax laws allow me to do so.I max out IRA’s, SEP IRA’s, 401K’s, etc. And after that, if there is little left over, I try to save that too… (after paying for living expenses).4) Where would you like to retire?Wherever the good Lord puts me.5) How old are you, and what age do you plan on retiring?44.I plan to retire when I can no longer work… In other words, if it is God’s will, then I would prefer to be working in some capacity to the very end (with adequate time for some vacation from time to time).