Young Savers Are the Group Most Likely to Meet Retirement Goals

Workers under age 35 are realizing they need to start saving now, according to Ascensus.

Young savers, those between the ages of 25 and 34, are the generation most likely to be on track to meet their retirement goals, according to a new report from Ascensus, “Inside America’s Savings Plans: How 8+ million are saving for the future.”

However, even for this group, the percentage on track to meet their goals is a mere 30%. For those in the 35 to 44 age group, it is 29%; for those 45 to 54, it is 38%; and for those 55 to 64, it is 18%.

Sponsors and participants alike are beginning to recognize the value of automatic features assigned to 401(k) plans. In fact, plans with automatic enrollment have an average participation rate of 84%—14 percentage points higher than plans without this feature.

Still, 401(k) account balances across all generations and income ranges are relatively low compared with what experts say will be required to retire successfully. For example, someone making more than $100,000 between the ages of 45 and 54 has an average 401(k) balance of $146,689. Someone making between $50,000 and $74,999 in that age range has an average of only $48,844 saved. Someone 55 through 64 making $75,000 to $99,999 averages only $121,319 saved, and someone 25 through 34 making $50,000 to $74,999 averages a mere $12,787. This shouldn’t be surprising because the average savings rate across all generations is 6%.

Eighty-two percent of plans have a company match, and, among this group, participation rates are 17% higher. Eighty-six percent of plans allow for profit-sharing contributions.

Employers are pairing health savings accounts (HSAs) with high-deductible health plans and enabling payroll direct deposit. At the end of 2017, total HSA assets were $45.2 billion in more than 22 million HSAs. These figures represent a year-over-year increase of 11% for accounts and 22% for assets. Ascensus projects that HSAs will have $64 billion in assets by 2019.

The average HSA balance is $16,457. Only 18% of HSA assets are invested, which Ascensus ascribes to participants being unaware they can invest the money. In addition, only 13% of recently surveyed participants know that HSAs offer tax advantages.

More than half of all new 529 college savings accounts are opened when the beneficiaries are age 5 or younger. However, parents need to save more in these accounts, because the average 529 balance for beneficiaries 16 or 17—$35,398—would cover only slightly more than half of a combined two years at a community college and two at a state university.

The average 529 account balance in 2017 was $22,886. In the past five years, there has been a 20% increase in the average balance; in 2013, it was $18,993.

In 2017, there were 352,507 new 529 account enrollments on Ascensus’ platform, with an average contribution of $3,790.

“Our analysis offers some preliminary answers as to how and when individuals are saving for a more secure financial future,” says David Musto, Ascensus president. “But at its core, it confirms that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to planning for what matters most—retirement, education and health care.”

Ascensus’ full report can be downloaded here.