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AARP: One in Five Americans Have No Retirement Savings

More than half of those polled who are age 50 or older are worried they will not have enough money to support them in retirement.

By Kathryn Pomroy, Kiplinger Consumer News Service (TNS)

One in five adults ages 50-plus have no retirement savings, and more than half are worried they will not have enough money to support them in retirement, according to a new AARP survey.

The study reflects concerns amid a shaky economy, high prices and an uncertain future.

“Every adult in America deserves to retire with dignity and financial security. Yet far too many people lack access to retirement savings options. This, coupled with higher prices, is making it increasingly hard for people to choose when to retire,” said Indira Venkateswaran, AARP senior vice president of research. “Everyday expenses continue to be the top barrier to saving more for retirement, and some older Americans say that they never expect to retire.”

The study also looked at savings and financial security in terms of gender, with 42% of men describing their financial situation as “fair” or “poor,” as opposed to 34% at the beginning of 2022. Roughly 40% of men who regularly save for retirement believe they are saving enough, compared to just 30% of women.

What happens if you carry debt?

Despite the recent slowing of inflation, higher prices over the past couple of years has had lingering consequences for debt and savings. Although the share of adults ages 30-plus carrying debt remains stable at 80%, overall, the amount of debt adults are carrying is higher. The average amount of credit card debt carried over month-to-month increased to $8,169 in January 2024 from $7,538 in January 2023.

Nearly one-third (30%) of older adults who carry over a credit card balance from month-to-month report carrying a balance of $10K or more, while 12% described their balance as $20K or more, up from 8% roughly a year ago.

How do economic factors impact a sense of financial security?

Despite one-third of older adults carrying over credit card balances from month-to-month, 33% of respondents ages 50-plus believe their finances will be better 12 months from now. Even so, the lingering effects of inflation and high costs are still apparent:

  • 70% of older adults worry about prices rising faster than their income
  • 37% worry about covering basic expenses, such as food and housing
  • 26% worry about covering family caregiving costs
  • 26% say they expect to never retire

And yet, Americans are 15 times more likely to save for retirement when they have access to a workplace plan. Yet, nearly 57 million people do not have access to a retirement plan at work.

What is Congress doing to help retirees?

Congress is currently considering legislation that would expand retirement security, including the bipartisan Retirement Savings for Americans Act of 2023, which would provide retirement savings accounts to eligible workers without employer-sponsored retirement plans and the Automatic IRA Act of 2024. 

“America is facing a serious retirement crisis, and Congress must act more swiftly to provide the financial support older Americans need and deserve,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer. 

To view the full Financial Security Trends Survey and methodology, visit


All contents copyright 2024 The Kiplinger Washington Editors Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency LLC.