Are younger generations ready for retirement? A more complicated question than it appears at first blush, and it starts with the basics.
A variety of factors are relevant in answering the question of whether younger adults are ready or even preparing at all — and one of them is something as fundamental as the degree to which they have adopted traditional aspects of adulthood itself.
A majority of the 1,000 parents Retirementinvestments surveyed who have children between the ages of 18 and 42 — adult children who hail from Generation Z and the Millennials — help them financially. That carries financial consequences not only for long-dependent generations, but also for their parents. But that’s not all.
More than $. Those parents aren’t just slipping them a few dollars. They’re also putting a roof over their heads. Retirementinvestments reports that 40% of them have adult children living at home. In its survey of 1,000 adults in Generation Z and the Millennials, Insuranks found similar results: 51% of their respondents who belong to Gen Z are living with their parents, and 19% of those who are Millennials are.
Why are they there? Retirementinvestments says there are a variety of reasons:
- high housing costs: 54%
- school: 43%
- wanting to live with their parents: 33%
- low wages: 22%
- making student loan payments: 22%
- saving to buy a house: 10%
Not only are they giving them a place to stay, they also are:
- making meals (68%)
- grocery shopping (56%)
- doing laundry (43%)
- scheduling doctor appointments (26%)
- waking their adult children up so they can go to work (11%)
All that extended help may be having a predictable result, insuranks suggests — many are not equipped to be independent adults. The vast majority of those in Gen Z — 80% — say they do not have adulthood figured out. And their slightly older counterparts may not be in a position to offer them much help or example; almost half of the Millennials said the same thing.
Optimism. The parents to whom Retirementinvestments spoke are not optimistic about the situation changing anytime soon. Sixty percent do not think their adult children will become financially independent this year. And a whopping 88% of those whose adult children still live with them. Retirementinvestments adds that 41% had thought that the nest would have been empty and most expected that their kids would have moved out by age 23, and now don’t anticipate that happening until they are age 27.
The cloud casts a pall on others, too. In another study Retirementinvestments conducted, they found that in 2023, 22% of full-time employees don’t expect to retire. Such pessimism is highest among those who work for non-profit employers, religious organizations, the arts and retail operations. But not everyone has such a dark outlook. Employees in the government/politics, finance, and technology/IT sectors are the most likely to expect to retire. The report says that prospects appear to be brightest for those who work as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, software developers, and epidemiologists.
The younger generations’ widespread seeming inability to grasp adulthood does not entail only manual and household tasks. It also includes financial matters — among them preparing for retirement.
Saving is hard. According to insuranks, 67% of the 1,000 members of Generation Z and the Millennials they surveyed said that managing money was the hardest part of being an adult. The second most common response was saving for retirement, the answer of 49%. They add that half of the 1,000 younger adults they surveyed don’t even have a retirement account; 44% of Millennials don’t, and almost 70% of those who belong to Gen Z lack one.
In 2023, says Retirementinvestments, 20% of FT employees are not saving for retirement. The last three years have taken a toll on that, they say, noting that “the pandemic’s economic impact appears to have influenced retirement plans.” In fact, they found, since 2020, almost 66% of FT workers have had a hard time saving for retirement. And employees in the hospitality, arts and entertainment, and retail sectors have had an especially hard time with that: 86%, 79%, and 78%, respectively.
Awareness lacking. Younger generations’ awareness of retirement funds and vehicles could use some help, findings by insuranks suggest. For instance, they report that 28 of the young adults they surveyed don’t know what a Roth IRA is.
Coulda shoulda. A strong majority of FT employees — 78% — told Retirementinvestments that they wish they had started saving for retirement earlier. But the report suggests that they simply were not able to translate that desire into reality. “Many have faced hurdles beyond their control,” it says.
Career choice and retirement saving. Some people base their decision regarding what career to pursue on retirement benefits. It’s not a lot, according to Retirementinvestments, but still, 10% do. The top three careers those 10% chose for that reason are: (1) military and first responders; (2) government and politics; and (3) transportation and warehouse work.
Parents too. The cost to parents of helping their big kids is not just short-term, says Retirementinvestments — the unexpected and extended assistance they are rendering is having a long-term effect, too. Not only are they delaying vacations, home renovations and moving — almost 20% of those parents with adult children are sacrificing retirement savings to help them.
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