Gen X Gets Ready for Retirement

With lessons learned from the Great Recession, Generation Xers top baby boomers in retirement planning, PNC survey reveals.

By Celandra Deane-Bess

The generation that brought you the word "slacker," is anything but when it comes to retirement planning, according to new PNC research.

The need for sound retirement planning has never been greater and countless studies indicate that too many Americans are not adequately prepared to retire comfortably.

But when it comes to Generation Xers, those between the ages of 35 and 49, they are taking the necessary steps for their future, according to the newest “PNC Perspectives of Retirement” Survey findings.

PNC’s survey, which measured the attitudes on retirement preparedness, found Gen Xers expect to need an average of $1.5 million to be comfortable in retirement. Baby boomers, who are between the ages of 50 and 68, were found to need slightly less at $1.3 million. However nearly three-quarters of boomers have yet to reach the $1 million milestone.

Key Findings

The top takeaways in PNC’s survey of 1,017 adults with investable assets of at least $50,000 include:

  • Gen Xers expect to retire younger at an average age of 63.6 years while boomers expect to retire, on average, at age 65 1/2.
  • 65 percent of Gen Xers responded “I believe I am solely responsible for my retirement (no Social Security, employer pension, inheritance, etc.)” vs. 45 percent of boomers.
  • 84 percent of all survey respondents fear healthcare costs will be too expensive in retirement, topping the list of all concerns. Gen X is slightly more worried than boomers (89 percent vs. 83 percent).

Financial Habits Improve

One outcome of the Great Recession is that we are seeing meaningful changes in financial behavior, especially among Generation X. One of the most challenging tasks is changing habits, particularly in managing spending and debt, and increasing savings and seeking advice.

The survey showed that while only 15 percent of all survey respondents are still coping with the effects of the Great Recession, 70 percent changed their financial behavior as a result. Over half of Gen X say they are saving more for retirement, compared to slightly more than a third of boomers.

Many of those surveyed know that their 401(k) or comparable plans will not be enough to get them over their retirement goal. On average, respondents invest 11 percent in their employers’ retirement plan and another nine percent (on average) specifically for retirement outside of these plans.

Younger investors worry more that they will have enough to live on for the rest of their lives. 73 percent of Gen Xers agreed with the statement “I worry that my savings may not hold out for as long as I live” as opposed to 55 percent of boomers.

Celandra Deane-Bess is a senior wealth planner for PNC Wealth Management. She also is chair of PNC’s national practice group for retirement.

View full results of the 2015 Perspectives of Retirement Survey.

Celandra Deane-Bess found the Great Recession has improved financial habits, especially for Gen Xers

The amount of money needed to retire comfortably is dependent on your level of spending in retirement and the cost of living in the area where you will live. It is also affected by how effectively individuals have managed debt throughout their working years.