Millennials Face Unique Challenges To Retirement Saving

Millennials Face Unique Challenges To Retirement Saving
The transformation of employer-sponsored benefits is just the start of it.

Retirement for millennials is going to look a lot different than it did for their parents. With employers offering less robust retirement benefits and the looming threat of Social Security insolvency, there's a lot to think about before you turn 66.

"I think that the generation of people that are already retired and some of the early Baby Boomers were maybe in the golden age of retirement," said Geoff Sanzenbacher, associate director of research at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. 

The typical American worker has no retirement savings at all. Among those that do have savings, the average amount is just $40,000 — far below what most experts say you should have put away. That's further complicated by the fall in personal savings. In fact, only 40 percent of Americans have enough money saved to cover an unexpected expense, let alone retirement.

"Millennials, especially millennials with student debt, are going to start later saving for retirement. They're going to start later accumulating housing assets. And both of those things mean that come time for retirement, they may still have a mortgage and they may have less than they would have had for retirement otherwise," Sanzenbacher added. 

The struggles go beyond paying student loans and finding affordable housing, though. If more older people are delaying retirement, younger workers could be faced with fewer opportunities for advancement.

"Millennials see their parents struggling today as they're getting ready and retirement is happening for them and they're staying in the workforce longer," said Diane Oakely, executive director of the National Institute on Retirement Security. "What that means for millennials in particular is: 'Is there a job for me to move up into? Is there a job where I can stop being an intern and start being a full-time employee with a full package of benefits?'"

While the future of retirement is uncertain for millennials, experts say that the upside is they still have a lot of time to save. And research shows that they have the desire to.

"The next public policy challenge we have is: How do we make sure that employers understand that, as they've moved away from those traditional pensions that are designed to provide individuals with an income when they retire, and guarantees, and we've asked millennials to become more responsible for their retirement, that they have a responsibility as well to make sure they offer them that opportunity as soon as possible when they get into the workforce?" Oakely said.