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Generation X Is Shockingly Unprepared for Retirement

Generation Xers are known for a lot of things. They're cynical, yet entrepreneurial, individualistic, and super tech-savvy. But some fear that, soon, they'll be known for something else – their total and complete lack of planning and preparation for retirement. Here's what you need to know.

Generation Xers are known for a lot of things. They’re cynical, yet entrepreneurial, individualistic, and super tech-savvy. But some fear that, soon, they’ll be known for something else – their total and complete lack of planning and preparation for retirement. Here’s what you need to know.

empty pockets 

(Photo Credit: danielmoyle/Flickr)

1. Generation X is turning 50.

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The youngest members of Generation X are about to turn 35. But, believe it or not, the older Gen Xers are turning the corner toward 50 and therefore, toward retirement. Are they prepared? Not so much. In fact, compared with baby boomers (who were generally better prepared for retirement than the generation that came before them) Gen X is in big trouble. And, at this stage in their careers, they’d love to be further along.

2. They’re still paying the price for the recession.

Every generation experienced loss in the Great Recession, but data shows that Generation Xers were the hardest hit. Boomers lost about 26 percent of their median net worth from 2007 to 2010, but Gen X lost nearly half of their wealth, about 45 percent. This came out, on average, to about $33,000. Even as some indicators suggest increasing stability in the job market and better wages, this loss still took a toll. And, Gen X continues to struggle to bounce back.

3. Although the clock is ticking, Generation X is not prepared for retirement.

Research from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies paints a dim picture of Gen X’s readiness. Compared with millennials and baby boomers, Gen X is less sure they’ll be able to retire comfortably, less confident in the size of their nest egg, and more than anyone else, believe they will have a harder time finding financial security in retirement than their parents did. They also contribute to retirement plans less than either of the other two generations surveyed and are least likely to have some form of a retirement strategy. Additionally, they have employed the services of a financial adviser less often than baby boomers or even millennials.

“Gen X is in retirement jeopardy,” says Catherine Collinson, president of the organization that released the study. “At their age, they need to be more focused on saving and planning for retirement, but our research found that many have backed away from it.”

4. Despite being nicknamed “Generation Stress,” Generation X doesn’t seem very worried about retirement.

There are many potential reasons why Gen X is behind in their planning and saving for retirement, but it’s surprising that they haven’t gotten themselves together, given their reputation for stress and anxiety. As retirement age looms closer and closer, Gen Xers would be wise to direct some of their tension toward preparing for this stage of life. The economic ups and downs haven’t made it any easier, but it’s time to get going nonetheless.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you feel you are more or less prepared for retirement than your parents were? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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6 Comments on "Generation X Is Shockingly Unprepared for Retirement"

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Clear the way Gen Xers, let us show you how its done.


Thank you for linking to my post about Generation X. By the way, I’m completely unprepared for retirement!

Kimberly E
That’s right, blame the the 48 year old who has never earned more than 40k a year while raising a family for not having retirement savings… This gen x’er still has 60k+ in student loan debt, and 34k in medical debt, plus 2 kids in college, and the third one will be in two years. I have never worked less than one full time job, and have usually also worked a part-time job plus done free lance administrative work and bookkeeping from home. I am highly educated, but have never been able to get out of that median salary range… Read more »
It’s funny, I was Googling Gen X articles this morning and read your article. The first thing I thought when I saw your headline was to flip you the bird. How GenX of me, eh? I’m 40 (born in 74) and as a member of Generation X. Here are my thoughts: Underprepared for retirement… I agree. Shocking… not at all. As a collective group, we know a thing or two about weathering the storms of life. And you know, that’s just life. Should we stash more away for our Golden Years? We know we should, but the reality of a… Read more »
@Pip No, sorry, you’re wrong. As a young person entering the workforce, (early 20s) I’m planning on retiring, or at least having the option to retire, by 30. Really the only thing you need to do in order to retire is keep your yearly expenditures lower. Every $1k you reduce your yearly expenditures by reduces the amount of invested savings you need by $25k, more if the economy is growing. If you really want to save, don’t buy crap you don’t need. Forget the new car every couple years, get a reliable used one for under $10k. Drive it for… Read more »
I don’t think it is possible for a middle class person to fund their retirement through a 401K in the current workplace environment. The only way for a 401k to work completely is for a person to be consistently employed by the same company over a span of 30+ years with no layoffs. Studies have shown that it takes years for a working person to bounce back financially from a layoff. Very true from my own experience. That’s on top of having to fund the ever increasing expenses of buying a home, a car, health care, and education. What money… Read more »
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