Average Retirement Fund?

How much money on average do Americans have when they reach age 65? For my purposes, this is any money including, but not limited to, bank accounts, investments and pensions. I’m just wondering if most people are dirt poor at retirement age or able to amass a minor fortune at least.

I’m in my early 30’s and have about $50,000.

Various websites offer numbers around $55-60,000. These numbers seem mostly based on the Federal Reserve’s “Survey of Consumer Finances” so if you want primary source material, look up that study. Note that this number is for a whole family, so it includes both spouses and it doesn’t include non-retirement savings or other things like home equity.

According to CNNMoney, the median net wealth for those 55-64 is $180,125 and for 65+ is $232,000. I would assume that for many people, equity in their house would account for much of that wealth.

Lots of different answers depending on what you want to view the results. This source says the median balance in retirement account for age 65 was $61k in 2007.

US News & World Report, perhaps stating the obvious, shows that the amount people retire with varies dramatically depending on their salary.

This source breaks it out into ranges: 28% retire with less than $1,000. Another 17% retire with more than $250,000. Lots of folks in the ranges in between.

I think this last way of looking at it is the most relevant to the OP’s question. It shows that while a lot of people retire comfortably, just as many retire with nothing.


One’s social security and Medicare benefits, if valued as though they were fungible annuities, would typically be worth more than $300,000 (??) and be the largest “asset” for many or most retirees.

(BTW, it was kind of Dopers to replace OP’s “average” with “median” without comment. Some OP’s at SDMB make one suspect some Americans underestimate income inequality. :rolleyes: )

I’m not sure what point you’re attempting to make; as I remember from elementary school, average can mean either arithmetic mean, median or mode. The OP didn’t specify which was desired.

I suspect these numbers are overstated or else, as pointed out, there is one of those “1%” disparities, with a small percentage accounting for the majority of saved income.

Also, the question is - how is defined benefit pension calculated into this? A lot of older people probably have defined benefit pensions; with current interest rates, the net present value of a small income is quite high. It’s not actually cash in the bank, but fortunately it can’t be blown away by poor spending habits. (Except by the company offering the pension).

That 28% figure is higher than I expected.

I’d like to learn more about employer pensions at risk. I have a public retirement fund and wonder what the odds are that it won’t be as much as projected when I retire.


Then we should have been more explciit, I suppose, in explaining why different figures reveal different pictures. Average is useless, in this case, because one guy with a million in the bank and 9 guys with nothing yields an average of $100,000 per person. That’s the freaking definition of income inequality, and while that refects the reality, it wasn’t really what the OP asking.

I presume that when **GreenElf **said “average” – it wasn’t meant in the mathematical sense but in the lay sense, ie, “typical.”

And sure social security and medicare have a value, but so what?

So what?

Supposing the value is $300,000 then the financial difference between people with $10,000 and $100,000 is nowhere near a factor of ten, as it might seem. If “so what” means that private pensions are included but the “Ponzi socialist” pension should not be, then … I’ll just agree to disagree.

As to my remark which caused such consternation, I was reacting to previous threads including one some months ago from a guy who asked “I have $50,000 savings. How am I doing?” with no mention of whether he had children, what his lifestyle was etc.

:smack: indeed.

A) This is an international board, we don’t all live in the US so the value of social security and medicare is kind of relevant globally. B) lots of people retire with nothing, if they have friends and family that support them it doesn’t really matter.

Looking at all these estimates, I don’t know anyone could retire with so little. Of course, one can define “retire” in many ways. For many people I see post-65 existing vs. what I consider retiring.

Don’t go all talk radio on us. :slight_smile:

The OP didn’t ask about public benefits or other programs that might have an inherent value. They didn’t ask whether people’s circumstances (or faith in the social security program) meant they didn’t feel the need to build a nest egg. They didn’t ask about the average (or median) standard of living after retirement. They didn’t ask whether fewer people are retiring with any sort of pension, or whether defined benefit programs from longtime employers are in jeopardy. All of those are legitimate questions, but not the one the OP happened to ask.

The fact is that a significant number of people – more than half, according to one of the sources I cited – reach retirement with very little savings/investments.

The OP does perhaps infer another question, which you made reference to, and that’s “how am I doing?” You’re absolutely correct that it depends entirely on your lifestyle and circumstances – how much you earn, what your expenses are, etc.

Robert Columbia says he’s 30ish with $50k socked away. That could be fantastic, it could be horrible. All depends.

I don’t get it either. $50,000 or even $250,000 might sound like a decent chunk of change when you are 20 but it isn’t good at all if you retire at 65 and live another 25 years. I think you literally need to be a millionaire and hopefully a multi-millionaire) to have even a middle-class retirement in the ideal sense of the term. It looks like Baby Boomers are going to be in for a rude awakening when they become too old to keep the paychecks flowing at the current rate.

My husband and I both retired this year after teaching in Illinois. I now bring home about 35% of what I did when I worked, and am not eligible for social security because I did not work enough under social security before I started teaching. My husband worked for 28 years under social security before he started working for the state, so he does get a check from them.

With the state of the economy here, I’m afraid That Illinois will find a way to back out of the pensions they haven’t funded for all these years (although they made sure we put our part in) and we will have nothing.

I’m always shocked by the median savings for people who are retiring. Retiring to what? $50K is nothing in today’s world, and certainly not much of a nest egg. We retired with about $1M in the bank plus our house and I still am not convinced that it will be enough.

Me, too. I’m sitting on mid-six figures, plus my paid off house, and there’s no way I can retire now. Who the hell retires on less than that, and how the hell do they survive more than a few years?

Both of us worked, so that’s about $3500/mo in SS coming in, plus I have half my military retirement (ex gets the other half) and a tiny pension from the state of Alaska. My wife has an equally tiny federal pension (we’re talking $500/mo each). So our monthly income is about $4,500 after taxes. We can pretty much live on that, but without the pot o’ cash sitting there, it would be a pretty boring retirement, and we wouldn’t be doing the home improvements we’ve done. How do people cope with emergencies with so little in the bank?