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4 Reasons why Millennials are the New Face of the Retirement Crisis

Recently #millennialretirementplans was trending on Twitter. The “retirement plans” that were mentioned were not your typical blend of Social Security and retirement plan assets. The “plans” were much more dismal, with major concerns over healthcare costs, Social Security running out, lack of savings, and climate change.

The fact is, millennials – those born between 1981 and 1996 – are the new face of the retirement crisis.

Researchers with the Social Science Research Network recently published their findings about the situation millennials will likely face when they begin to retire around 2050. Researchers revealed one distinct advantage that millennials have: they are more educated than any previous generation, which should translate into higher earning potential. The rest of their findings can be classified into four “disadvantages.”

1. Student Debt Debacle

Since this generation is more educated than previous generations, it is no surprise that 42% of millennials have student debt. Of those millennials, 79% say their student loans have a moderate or significant impact on their ability to meet other financial goals.

2. Saving Struggles

Millennials between the ages of 25-35 today have a median net worth about 40% less than the same age group in 2001. That is a huge decline.

With the emergence of the “gig economy,” companies contract with independent workers for short-term engagements ie. Uber drivers, millennials will be employed in contingent jobs to a greater extent than prior generations. These jobs rarely provide access to employer sponsored retirement plans. Additionally, millennials feel like they need to be settled and check the boxes of buying a home and raising a family before thinking about saving for retirement.

3. Credit Card Crisis

Millennials tend to lean on credit cards to help make ends meet, with 30% of them using credit cards to pay for monthly necessities. The 40% of those who regularly carry balances find it difficult to make the minimum monthly payments.

4. Not–So Secure Social Security

The Social Security and Medicare funding shortfall is a topic that has been discussed at length and millennials will inevitably feel the financial burden of whatever the government decides to do about it.

What Can You Do?

Save. Save. Save.

If your company offers a 401(k) plan, be sure you are contributing. The small contributions you make now will have a huge impact down the road. If your company doesn’t offer a 401(k), consider opening a Roth IRA or Traditional IRA. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. To learn about the differences between 401(k) plans, Roth IRAs and Traditional IRAs, check out this post.

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