Gen X is the least confident about retirement as 'crunch time' nears—and has done less to prepare than boomers or millennials

The cohort once derided as the “slacker generation” is about to start heading into retirement, and many Gen Xers aren’t feeling so optimistic about it after not doing as much to get ready.

Only 62% of Gen Xers feel confident about “being able to financially support all the things they want to do in life,” according to Allianz Life Insurance’s 2024 annual retirement study. That’s well below baby boomers (82%) and millennials (77%).

To be sure, the simple fact that Gen X is getting closer to retirement can cause more anxiety. Having been born between the mid-1960s to early 1980s, the oldest of the generation is just a handful of years away.

“Gen Xers are reaching crunch time for retirement planning,” Kelly LaVigne, vice president of consumer insights as Allianz Life, said in a statement. “For Gen Xers, retirement is no longer this far off idea. That can feel stressful, but by preparing now, they can create a strategy that will help them seek their ideal retirement.”

Meanwhile, many boomers are already enjoying retirement and have less planning to do, and millennials have more time to get ready.

But they still have reasons worry as high inflation has eroded the fixed incomes that many boomers rely on. In fact, many boomers are “unretiring,” largely due to the rising cost of living. And for millennials, heavy student loan debts and high mortgages rates have delayed key financial milestones in their lives. That makes Gen X’s gloomier attitude extra notable.

A leading concern among Gen Xers is lack of savings, with 55% saying they wish they had saved more. Among that regretful group, the main obstacles to saving that they cited were daily expenses, credit card debt, and housing debt.

But the Allianz survey also revealed that Gen X lagged the other generations in taking key steps to prepare for retirement.

Only 35% of Gen Xers are currently working with a financial professional, compared to 46% of millennials and 54% of boomers. In addition, 58% of Gen Xers do not have any “written financial plans,” according the Allianz, versus 52% of boomers and 37% of millennials.

Other studies have also shown that Gen X is more anxious about retirement than boomers and millennials, with many expecting to work longer than they initially planned.

The Schroders 2023 U.S. Retirement Survey also showed that Gen X workers on average say it will take a bit over $1.1 million in savings to retire comfortably, but expect to have around $660,000 saved. 

Another study from the National Institute on Retirement Security found that Gen X also has the largest wealth gap: The top 25% has $250,000, on average, while the bottom quartile has around $35,000.

For its part, Allianz said that retirement is more than just saving and hitting a certain amount of money.

“Once you retire, you are going to need to draw from those assets for income,” LaVigne said. “A sound retirement income strategy will help use your assets efficiently and include contingencies for risks that can cause you to spend down savings faster than anticipated. You need to ensure the money lasts.”

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