Climate change. Wars. Overworking. Unnecessary meetings. And just flat out being broke. These are some of the reasons why millennials aren’t planning for much of a retirement.
erupted with suggestions as to how this young generation could spend their old age, using the hashtag #millennialretirementplans, on Tuesday morning. More of the tweets were pessimistic, but some made light of their situations. A few said they’d continue to live in their parents’ basements, while another person said she’d fund her retirement with Go Fund Me, a crowdsourcing website where people can ask others for donations. Someone else said she’d have enough experience to get an entry-level job by then.
There were many tweets about health-care as a barrier to a good retirement. One Twitter user said she’ll never retire because she needs her employer-sponsored health insurance to pay for the insulin she needs to “stay alive.” Another person said she could move to a country that provides basic health care to its citizens, which is not available in the U.S. (but has been discussed at length in the Democratic debates under “Medicare for All”). Someone else suggested they may die before age 40 because of medical complications uncared for because of expensive treatments.
This isn’t the first time millennials’ retirements were a trending topic on Twitter. In May 2018, Twitter blew up with tweets about how much money people should have saved for retirement by age 35, after a MarketWatch story about saving for retirement in your 30s went viral. The story included guidance from Fidelity Investments, suggesting Americans should have twice their salary saved for retirement by 35. Soon after, the hashtags “by 35” and “by age 35” were born — some angry and defensive, others poking fun.
Retirement savings guidelines may upset those who feel they can’t get ahead, and while many young people may find it hard to envision retiring, saving for the future is imperative — no matter how much, or little, they put away each month. Saving for retirement isn’t what it used to be. Most private sector employers have switched from defined-benefit plans, which are pensions, to defined-contribution plans, like the 401(k), which places the responsibility on employees to save enough.
Millennials cite numerous reasons they can’t save for retirement, including debilitating student loan debt, low incomes, high rents and mortgage payments and familial responsibilities to their children and parents. Financial advisers typically suggest Americans save 10% to 15% of their salary for retirement. If that’s not possible — and for many, it isn’t — there are other strategies, including at minimum meeting whatever the employer 401(k) match is, so that they get some “free money,” and combing through credit card and bank statements to see if there are any expenses that can be cut or eliminated, like an unused subscription to a magazine or happy hours that don’t actually bring joy.