If you’re stressing out about whether or not you’re saving enough for retirement, you’re not alone. Millennials are among those struggling the most with this dilemma. According to a 2016 study, 64 percent of working millennials believe they’ll never save a $1 million nest egg.
Why are millennials so worried? Sadly, this age group is prone to making less-than-ideal money moves that could hurt them later in life. Let’s review the five biggest ways in which millennials are risking their retirement. (See also: 4 Things Millennials Should Do Today to Prepare for Retirement)
1. Delaying the start of retirement savings
Nearly four in 10 millennials haven’t started saving for retirement. The same 2016 survey found that 61 percent of females and 50 percent of males belonging to the millennial generation have their finances stretched “too thin” to save for retirement. Even worse, 54 percent of women and 43 percent of men of this generation are living paycheck to paycheck.
However, delaying retirement contributions has a serious impact. If a worker were to deposit just $50 per month into a 401(k) with an 8 percent annual rate of return for 10 years, they would end up with around $9,200 at the end of the 10-year period. The IRS sets a cap on how much you can contribute to a retirement account per year, which for 2017, is $18,000 to a 401(k) and $5,500 to an IRA. If you keep delaying your contributions to your retirement accounts, you’ll never be able to fully make up that gap.
2. Taking out high student loans
Student Loan Hero estimated the average student loan balance for a member of the Class of 2016 at $37,172, up 6 percent from the year before. With so many Americans still believing in the importance of postsecondary education, it’s easy to see how the average student loan continues to climb. Studies have shown that higher education still leads to better earnings potential, after all.
Still, loans are rising too fast. Back in 1993, only 45 percent of college graduates had a student loan and their average balance was $15,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars. By having to pay down a high student loan, millennials are foregoing sizable contributions to their retirement accounts.
Assuming a $30,000 balance on a federal direct…