New Report: The Age Most Americans Expect To Retire

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If you haven’t retired already, perhaps you have a certain age in mind as a target for retirement.

The 2022 Planning & Progress Study from financial services group Northwestern Mutual examined Americans’ anticipated retirement ages as well as behaviors and expectations about money including savings and projected financial needs during retirement.

New Report Shows Americans’ Retirement Expectations

The study is based on answers from 2,381 U.S. adults surveyed in February 2022 by The Harris Poll on behalf of Northwestern Mutual.  

Here are some key findings from the study:

  • The average age Americans plan to retire has gone up.
  • Americans’ retirement savings have fallen by 11%.
  • Those who are in debt are carrying an average of $22,354.

According to the report, U.S. adults anticipate they’ll need $1.25 million to live comfortably in retirement. That figure represents a 20% rise since the previous year. 

Let’s explore some of the report’s key findings in detail.

The Average Age Americans Plan To Retire Has Gone Up

Americans on average plan to work until age 64 now, according to the study. Last year, that figure was 62.6.

The respondents say they’re concerned that they won’t have enough money to retire yet they anticipate living longer.

More stats from the study:

  • 43% say they “don’t expect to be financially ready for retirement when the time comes.”
  • 33% say they’re expecting to live to reach age 100.

Americans’ Retirement Savings Have Fallen by 11%

The average retirement savings of people responding to the study have dropped 11%. Here are what those figures are over the last two years:

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  • $98,800 in 2021
  • $86,869 in 2022

As to how they plan to fund retirement:

  • 27% say they plan to lean on their 401(k)s and other retirement accounts.
  • 26% say they plan to rely on Social Security benefits.
  • 22% say they plan to focus on personal savings or investments.

Money expert Clark Howard recommends, if you can afford to do so, that you hold off on claiming Social Security because your benefit increases by 8% each year between your full retirement age and age 70.

Clark’s Tip on How To Maximize Your Social Security Benefits

Even though he’s already eligible, Clark plans to wait until he’s 70 before he starts collecting Social Security. He advises that any extra money we can earn while we delay Social Security can help offset some of the financial blows we encounter along the way such as inflation, market uncertainty and greater need for health care.

“The odds overwhelmingly show that a lot of us are going to live a lot longer than we thought,” Clark says. “So the best time to take Social Security is to wait as long as you possibly can.”

Read our in-depth guide on the best time to collect Social Security.

How Much Debt Do Americans Have?

Among U.S. adults who carry debt, the study says the average figure was $22,354 (excluding mortgages). Inflation was already rising in February when the research was conducted, but it was before the most recent spikes in the economic data. The long-term trend line, according to the study’s February 2022 numbers, showed a 25% drop in debt over the last three years.

Average Amount of Personal Debt (Minus Mortgages)

2019$29,803
2020$26,621
2021$23,325
2022$22,354

Read our in-depth guide on how to get out of debt.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to saving for retirement, Clark says that feeling guilty about how much you’ve stashed away is not helpful.

“Whatever you’ve been able to do, whatever you’ve done, that’s what you’ve been able to do up to this point. From here, it’s all about where you are now and how you’re going to move forward.”

 Want to learn more? Follow Clark Howard’s guide to saving for retirement.

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