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Gen Xers think they'll need $1.56 million to live comfortably in retirement, a survey found

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Americans think they need $1.46 million to retire comfortably, per a Northwestern Mutual survey.Marcus Lindstrom/Getty Images
  • A Northwestern Mutual survey found Americans think they need $1.46 million to retire comfortably.

  • For Gen X, many of whom are less than two decades from retirement, that number rose to $1.56 million.

  • But they only have $108,600 saved on average and might outlive their savings, per the survey.

It'll take a lot of money for most Americans to feel comfortable retiring — and many of them are way behind.

A new Northwestern Mutual survey of 4,588 adults, conducted by the Harris Poll from January 3 to January 17, reveals how much Americans think they might need to enjoy life after working. And that price tag just keeps growing.

According to the survey, Americans set their sights on $1.46 million as the magic number to make them feel comfortable in retirement.

And it differs by generation — both Gen Z and millennials said they would feel comfortable retiring with over $1.6 million, Gen X thinks $1.56 million, and boomers think $990,000. For those with high net worths, with incomes over $1 million, their expectations were much higher, at $3.93 million.

But all of those are hundreds of thousands — if not millions — off from how much each cohort actually has saved. For instance, Gen X has, on average, just $108,600 saved for retirement. That's less than that generation's average annual household pre-tax income of $126,892 in 2022.

With the big gap between Gen X's retirement goals and their current savings, 42% of them believe they "could outlive their savings," per the survey.

Gen X also anticipates retiring later than other generations; on average, Americans anticipate retiring at age 65 — Gen Z thinks it'll be 60 for them — but Gen X anticipates throwing in the towel at age 67.

How much you need for retirement

While it's hard to pinpoint an exact number that would make Americans across generations feel comfortable retiring, The Wall Street Journal pointed to a method by Fidelity Investments that suggests people should save 10 times their annual salary by age 67, with the aim of hitting savings worth six times their annual salary at age 50. And, as The Wall Street Journal notes, lower-income Americans might be overestimating how much they need for retirement.

For example, as back of the envelope calculation, the average annual household income for Gen Xers is $126,892, per BLS. Using Fidelity's formula, Gen Xers would need to save over $761,000 by age 50 to be on track to save enough for age 67. While that's still much more than what they have saved now on average, it's also quite a bit lower than their estimation in the Northwestern Mutual survey.

The high numbers the survey respondents targeted for retirement could reflect the tough conditions in the US economy. While the pace of inflation has slowed following the pandemic, it's still above the Federal Reserve's target 2% level, and many Americans continue to struggle with high costs straining their wallets, especially for necessities like housing, food, insurance, and utilities.

For example, the majority of Gen Z, millennials, and Gen X survey respondents expect the US will enter a recession this year — with one-third of adults saying they don't feel financially secure.

Gen X is also facing their own tough economic plight as the "forgotten generation." Millennials and Gen Zers both started saving earlier for retirement than their Gen X peers and are more confident that they'll be financially prepared for retirement. Meanwhile, Gen Xers, on the whole, feel less financially secure than other generations, according to a July YouGov and Business Insider survey of over 1,800 Americans.

And all of those retirement fears — and meager savings — come as retirement is increasingly out of reach for many Americans. The retirement crisis is already a reality for some older adults, with just over half of Americans over 65 earning under $30,000 a year and forced to rely on Social Security and continued work to get by.

That situation might only worsen as Social Security benefits remain imperiled, and student loan debt and other financial pressures only grow.

Are you worried you won't be able to retire? How are you preparing for retirement? Contact these reporters at jkaplan@businessinsider.com and asheffey@businessinsider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider