Credit Card Debt Preventing Many Gen Xers From Saving for Retirement

Fifty percent of Gen Xers surveyed say they cannot start saving for retirement until they pay off their credit card debt.

Many Generation X members are struggling with debt, Allianz Life found in a survey. Their non-mortgage debt, i.e. credit card and student loan debt, has increased 15% since 2014, rising from an average of $20,000 to $23,000.

Forty-nine percent of Gen Xers pay only a portion of their credit card debt each month, up from 46% in 2014. Forty-two percent view carrying debt as a fact of life.

Fifty percent of Gen Xers say they cannot start saving for retirement until they pay off their credit card debt, and 50% say they are embarrassed to tell a financial professional about their debt. Thirteen percent say they cannot afford to save for retirement, compared to 7% of Millennials and 10% of Baby Boomers.

Just over one-third, 34%, of Gen Xers are confident in their ability to manage their money. By comparison, 41% of Millennials are confident about their money management competency, and 44% of Boomers are as well.

But many Gen Xers are in denial about their futures, with 63% saying “everything will just work out” in their retirement years, up from 53% in 2014. Fifty-three percent say they will just “figure it out,” up from 46% in 2014.

This is diametrically opposed to the 59% who worry about maintaining their lifestyle in the future, and the 55% who have concerns about where their income will come from.

Only 39% are currently working with a financial professional, but another 39% are open to receiving professional advice. But even if they get advice, 70% say they want to make their own financial decisions, up markedly from a mere 33% in 2014.

“While our study revealed some positives in how Boomers and Millennials are preparing for retirement, Generation X’s saving and spending habits were concerning, especially since retirement is not far off for many in this group,” says Paul Kelash, vice president of consumer insights at Allianz Life. “More worrisome than their debt, however, is their lack of planning. [They are] less committed to proactively addressing their retirement security. This is a significant issue that needs addressing.”

Larkson Research + Strategy conducted the online survey of 3,006 adults for Alllianz Life in May.