One in Five Americans Have No Retirement Savings. Do You?


20% of adults ages 50+ have no retirement savings, 61% worry they won’t have enough at retirement, as per new AARP survey. Plus six tips to start saving now.

1 in 5 adults ages 50+ 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 age 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+ 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 & Engagement Officer.

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

How to start saving now

If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it can be hard to save. That said, these six steps can take you from zero to hero without sacrificing your lifestyle too much.

1. Pay off high-interest credit card debt

High debt, including credit card debt, can deplete your monthly income and make saving seem impossible. But paying down higher-interest debt can save you thousands in interest payments over time. Although student loans, car loans and other personal debt can weigh heavy, paying down or paying off the debt (like credit cards) with the highest interest can help pave the way to saving sooner.

2. Cut unnecessary spending and budget for savings

Cutting back on unnecessary expenditures, such as eating out, adding new streaming services and having the newest and greatest technology, may not be as fun as having it all, but understanding where and how you spend can help you budget and add to your savings.

Add a line item in your budget for savings. For a simpler approach, try the 50/30/20 method.

  • Put 50% of your monthly income toward necessary expenses, such as your housing payment and grocery bills.
  • Put 30% towards your wants, also known as discretionary purchases.
  • Put 20% towards debt payoff and savings.

3. Automate your savings

One of the easiest ways to save is to automate your savings. Rather than storing your money in an account where it’s easy to spend, set up automatic withdrawals from your paycheck to deposit into your savings. Psychologically, if you don’t see the money, you won’t miss it. But, you will save it.

Plus, deposit any unexpected windfalls, such as work bonuses, tax refunds or family gifts, into your savings instead of into a checking account where the money is easily accessible. Automatic deposits can accelerate your progress toward your savings goals.

4. Ask about a high-yield savings account

High-yield savings accounts from banks and credit unions have higher APYs — some over 5% — than regular savings accounts, which often pay less than 1%. Although some high-yield accounts require a minimum deposit or maintaining a certain balance, many do not. Plus, most high-yield accounts don’t charge monthly fees.

5. Take advantage of 401(k) matching

If you’re working and your employer offers 401(k) plans and you’re not taking advantage of it, you’re missing out. This is especially true if your employer provides matching, which means they match a certain percentage of your contribution each month up to a certain percentage of your salary.

6. Start a side hustle

Today, more and more people are taking on side hustles, such as driving for a rideshare, blogging, doing odd jobs around the neighborhood, taking online surveys, reviewing products and more. Yes, a side hustle eats into your time, but in the long run, it can help you put more money toward your savings and still give you a bit of extra cash to spend on yourself.


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