Americans are leaving as much as $24 billion in unmatched 401(k) dollars on the table, according to a new report from GOBankingRates. The personal finance website surveyed around 1,500 individuals across three age brackets using Google Consumer Surveys.
The data revealed that as many as one in three have a grand total of $0 saved for retirement, while 56 percent have saved less than $10,000. It also found that women were significantly (27 percent) more likely than men to have nothing saved for retirement.
Generational discrepancies also persist: Millennials were 40 percent more likely to have not saved anything than Gen Xers, who were in turn 50 percent more likely to have zilch than they're Baby Boomer counterparts. Just 5 percent of total respondents had saved a comfortable $200,000 to $299,000, though a slightly larger portion--13 percent--said they have $300,000 or more saved.
"There are plenty of obstacles Americans claim are in their way when it comes to saving for retirement: credit card debt, student loan debt, low wages, the need to save for a child's college education, and the list goes on," noted Cameron Huddleston, a columnist with GOBankingRates, writing in the report. "Although all of these things can put a strain on our budgets, they don't necessarily make it impossible to save for retirement."
Personal finance journalist and retirement savings expert Jane Bryant Quinn insists that all American workers should be investing for growth over time.
"You should be hitched to U.S. stocks, and the long-term growth of American business," she said in a previous interview with Inc. For business owners specifically, Quinn outlines the advantages of the SEP IRA, or a solo 401(k) plan if the business has no employees.
Insofar as Americans aren't so hot at planning ahead, a number of financial technology startups are now offering automated investment services, which typically come cheaper than traditional alternatives.
Just this week, Goldman Sachs announced that it had bought Honest Dollar, a one-year old automated retirement savings platform focused on IRAs. Honest Dollar will be managed by the banking giant's investment management arm. And late last year, Betterment -- a fast-growing robo-adviser based in New York City, which currently has about $3.5 billion in assets under management -- rolled out a slick new 401(k) tool of its own for small-business owners.
"The real problem is procrastination," Huddleston added. "People naturally tend to focus on the bills that are due today--and the things they want now--and assume they'll have time to save for retirement later. But, before you know it, 20 or 30 years have passed; you're approaching retirement age but you don't have enough saved to retire."
It's a good idea to get started saving now--even small sums--and to up your 401(k) contribution over time. According to the IRS, those who are 50 and older can make an additional $6,000 worth of catch-up contributions, for instance, beyond the standard $18,000 annual contribution limit.