Survey: Only 54% of Americans know how much they need for a comfortable retirement

Knowing how much money is going to be needed to retire comfortably is the number one source of financial stress among Americans.

Recent data from Schwab Retirement Plan Services shows that only 54% of Americans know how much they need to save for a comfortable retirement.

To do the study, Logica Research surveyed 1,000 American workers between 25 and 70, who are putting money away for retirement using 401(k)s. They are all employed at places “with 25+ employees that have 401(k) plans.”

Americans know about these numbers — see how they compare

They are “likely to know” what these values should be:

  • “Credit score:” 91%
  • “Weight:” 88%
  • “Blood pressure:” 76%
  • “Percentage of salary should save in 401(k):” 73%
  • “Cholesterol:” 67%
  • “How much should have saved for a comfortable retirement:” 54%

These things stress Americans out

People say that these are “significant sources of financial stress:”

  • “Saving enough money for a comfortable retirement:” 40%
  • “Paying off credit card debt:” 25%
  • “Keeping up with monthly expenses:” 24%
  • “Job security:” 21%
  • “Saving/paying for children’s education:” 17%
  • “Taking care of aging parents:” 17%
  • “Medical expenses:” 15%
  • “Paying off student loans:” 11%
  • “None of the above:” 19%

People think that this will be their biggest “source of income in retirement:” 62% said their 401(k), 21% said “savings and investments outside my 401(k),” 10% said their Social Security, 6% said their pension and 1% chose none of these options.

But while 70% of Americans think their “quality of life in retirement will be better than” their parents’ was, 30% think it’ll “be worse.” A whopping 70% also think that their “quality of life in retirement will be better than the next generation’s,” while 30% think theirs won’t measure up.

More surprisingly, 28% agreed with the statement, “I’d rather live well now than save for an uncertain future,” while 72% agreed with the idea that “it’s more important to live frugally now to save more for retirement.”

Here’s how much Americans want retirement plans

The breakdown shows what they say they can’t live without in a new position:

  • “Health insurance:” 92%
  • “401(k) plan:” 88%
  • “2 or more weeks of vacation or PTO:” 88%
  • “Life insurance:” 54%
  • “Disability insurance:” 52%
  • “Health savings account (HSA):” 33%
  • “Ability to work from home:” 32%
  • “Flexible health spending account (FSA):” 29%
  • “Equity compensation/stock options/stock awards:” 27%
  • “Financial wellness program:” 16%
  • “Financial advice services:” 13%
  • “Gym membership or onsite gym:” 12%
  • “Onsite daycare/childcare:” 9%

Jane Burnett|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at jburnett@theladders.com.