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10 Frightening Retirement Statistics That Should Scare You Into Action


That time of year when Americans break out their creepy masks, horror flicks and epic pranks. It’s the one day you’re allowed to scare people beyond the capacity for rational thought.

10 Scary Retirement Statistics

Keeping with the theme of frightening things, we’re giving you the 10 scariest retirement statistics that’ll leave you sleeping with the light on. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.

1. 26% of non-retired Americans have no retirement savings.1

More than a quarter of working Americans are not putting any money away for retirement! That’s crazy! If you’re in that 26%, you’re setting yourself up for trouble—monster-sized trouble.

2. Social Security payments are less than $20,000 a year.

Thinking about relying on Social Security for retirement? Think again. In September 2022, most people only got an average of $1,547 per month for Social Security.2 That’s only a little over $18,500 a year. Do you think that’ll be enough for your retirement? We don’t either. In fact, even the Social Security Administration has said Social Security isn’t meant to replace your full income.3

3. Only 44% of Americans are investing.

According to Ramsey’s State of Personal Finance report, only 44% of Americans said they were investing at the end of Q4 2021—down from 58% at the start of last year. If you’ve heard us say it once, you’ve heard us say it a thousand times: You need to invest for retirement to build wealth!

4. Almost half of Americans lose sleep worrying about money.

Ramsey’s research also found that almost half of Americans lose sleep worrying about finances. The only thing that should keep you up at night is a scary movie marathon. If you’re on track with your plan to build wealth for retirement, you can sleep soundly.

To be honest, we’re more worried about the half of Americans who don’t lose sleep thinking about their retirement. That tells us a lot of people are ignoring the problem and refuse to think about it.

5. 59% believe they can’t get ahead with their finances and are living paycheck to paycheck.

Forget Halloween. Every day is terrifying when you’re living paycheck to paycheck. And  the State of Personal Finance report found that over half of Americans are doing just that. How can you possibly build wealth and retire with a nice nest egg if your bank account keeps hitting zero? Even Freddy Krueger would shiver at this nightmare. Look, if this is you—put investing on hold . . . for now.

Right now, it's time to walk the Baby Steps, starting with putting away $1,000 for emergencies and paying off all debt except your home—with gazelle intensity. You can do this!

6. 34% of folks don’t believe they’ll ever recover from the pandemic financially.

The pandemic hit a lot of people hard—mentally and financially. It’s no wonder why: Over half of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck without an emergency fund to help them in tough times. And according to research done by Ramsey Solutions, over a third of Americans don’t believe they’ll ever recover.

7. Over half of Americans feel behind on retirement saving.

Even though retirement is a top goal in America,  Ramsey found that 56% of folks feel behind on their retirement savings—a scary feeling. But—spoilers for the next stat—almost half of American workers haven't figured out how much they need to save for retirement.

8. 52% of workers have not calculated what they’d need to live in retirement.4

Any big achievement—like funding your retirement—takes work. But most people spend more time planning for a week’s vacation than planning for their retirement years! Does that scare you? It should!

9. 22% of Americans have cut back on how much they’re putting away for retirement.

According to Ramsey’s State of Personal Finance, almost a quarter of Americans have cut back on how much they’re putting away for retirement—talk about spine-chilling.


How much will you need for retirement? Find out with this free tool!

We can’t stress this enough: You need to be completely debt-free (outside of your house) and have 3–6 months of income set aside for emergencies before you even think about investing—no exceptions! This way, you can consistently invest 15% of your income without worry.

10. 41% of people currently saving have no one they trust for retirement advice.

Ramsey’s research also found that 52% of those who aren’t saving have no one they trust. Trying to save for retirement without help is like wandering into a haunted house alone in the dark without a flashlight. Zoinks! No, thank you. Turn on the light and get connected with an investment pro near you.

Retirement Statistics to Give You Hope

Wow—after all those dark and dreary numbers, we bet you could use some positive news about retirement. Kind of like watching your favorite comedy after a scary movie so you don’t have nightmares. Here’s some good news:

You don’t have to hit the lottery, make risky single stock investments, or inherit a fortune to retire a millionaire. According to Ramsey’s National Study of Millionaires, 8 out of 10 millionaires invested in their company’s 401(k). Three out of four said that regular, consistent investing was the key to their success. And guess what: 79% didn’t receive an inheritance from their parents or other family members to get there.

And the top five careers of millionaires? Engineers, accountants, teachers, managers and attorneys. In fact, only 15% of millionaires held senior leadership roles (CEO, CFO, COO, etc.). Ninety-three percent said they got their wealth because they worked hard, not because they had big salaries. Anyone can and should be a millionaire. The American dream is alive and well and available. It’s never too late to change your financial picture.

Who Ya Gonna Call? A SmartVestor Pro!

Halloween comes and goes, but retirement planning is an ongoing priority. It’s time to get rid of the fear. It’s up to you to take charge of your finances and make better decisions going forward. Otherwise, your retirement years will be a troubling, frightening experience.

If you’re scared to go at it on your own, find a financial advisor who’ll stick with you for the long haul and help you stay on track. If you don’t have an advisor, we can put you in touch with an investing pro in your area.

Find a SmartVestor Pro today!

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This article provides general guidelines about investing topics. Your situation may be unique. If you have questions, connect with a SmartVestor Pro. Ramsey Solutions is a paid, non-client promoter of participating Pros. 

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About the author

Ramsey Solutions

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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