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Millennials and the Road to Retirement Independence

October 05, 2015

It’s a commonly held opinion that millennials are not actively saving for retirement. Is it true that millennials are not sufficiently prepared for retirement independence? This age group—born between 1980 and 2000—face an array of challenges specific to their generation, including rapidly increasing college tuition (and high levels of student debt, as a result), a very slow climb in wage growth, and an aggressively competitive job market worldwide.

Coupled with these challenges are mindsets that don’t add up to what the reality will most likely hold for millennials in the future. For example, many young people under the age of 35 erroneously believe that retiring three years early will not have a drastic effect on their savings. In contrast, millennials also think they can easily work past the average age of retirement if the situation calls for it. Perhaps this comes from the "invincible" mindset that young people often have. According to an earlier 2015 study by J.P. Morgan, only 27 percent of current retirees actually follow through on that goal.

In order to aid millennials in their quest for retirement independence, employers can and should begin by encouraging them to start saving, no matter what the amount. Millennials have shown that they are not expecting Social Security to be there for them when they hit the golden years, so they understand that they are essentially on their own when it comes to being financially secure. This means that many of them will turn to their employers in order to participate in company-sponsored 401(k) plans.

When that happens, employers should emphasize the benefit of higher levels of retirement saving for millennials, as well as a few other crucial ideas as emphasized by the financial professionals (Amanda Lott, Regent Atlantic Capital, Douglas Boneparth, CFP Board Ambassador NY, Tim Maurer, BAM Alliance) in “The Millennial Future”. According to them, one of the key points that employers should stress to millennials is that retirement planning is relevant in their lives, even though it may seem distant or hard to grasp. If employers can tie millennials’ interests to the topic of retirement independence, it could have a meaningful impact on how millennials view saving in the long run.

An example of this could be millennials’ collective interest in “being green”, eating right, and striving for healthy lifestyles in general. Better health can equal longer lives, and longer lives require bigger cushions of savings to rely on in the golden years. Using this logic, employers (and mentors in general) can encourage their employees (millennial and not) to save effectively for whatever the future may bring.

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