Mike Davies
August 2016

The Millennial Retirement Plan

Millennials don’t think they will be able to save enough money for retirement. Wells Fargo’s recent survey teaches the millennial generation how.

Source: Wells Fargo Millennial Survey

The millennials are the target of ridicule by the generations that preceded them but in fact, they face some debilitating challenges. Millennials are the most educated generation in the history of the United States but 40% of unemployed workers are millennials. The millennial experience is having higher student loan debt, poverty, and unemployment while maintaining lower levels of wealth and personal income than any other generation at the same stages of life. About 88% of minimum-wage workers are 20 or older and 40% of those workers are college graduates.

In the Wells Fargo Millennial Survey, it was found that on average men earn $39,100 but women of the same age group earn $28,800. Of those in this study, 43% of men and 54% of women report they are living paycheck to paycheck.

Over one-third of millennials has student loan debt with the median debt amount of $19,978. Of those who have student loan debt 75% say that their student loan debt is “unmanageable” but 70% of that group have started saving for retirement at an average rate of just over 5%.

Even with the student loan debt, there is a way to reach $1 million in savings by the time you’re 65.

“Saving $1 million is often noted as a nest-egg target to help fund a multi-decade retirement, so we wanted to find out if today’s millennials think they can get there. A majority don’t think so. Millennials may not realize that if they start saving consistently by their mid-twenties — and stay invested for the duration of their working years — they will likely accumulate $1 million by the time they retire,” said Joe Ready, director of Institutional Retirement and Trust for Wells Fargo.

Millennials who earn a salary of $32,000 by the age of 25 must save 5% the first year and increase their savings rate by 2% each year until they reach a cap of 13%. This also runs under the assumption that the earner receives a 2% increase in salary annually. The earner would also have to be invested and get a 7% return on their invested assets.

“Making the math work to accumulate savings means that millennials must start saving early in their working lives. Millennials have the power of time on their side and need to embrace it. They can get started by reducing discretionary spending by $26 each week and directing that savings to their 401(k) plan, starting at age 25 — it’s feasible,” said Ready.

Millennials can budget their spending and keep up with the detailed savings plan laid out in the study. Perhaps one of the biggest things against the millennial generation is that they experience low wages and high debt.

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Mike Davies

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