Most millennials are just starting out with their first job when they hit their mid-20s, but it’s a good idea to start thinking about retirement right away. Why? Because if current estimates are correct, those graduating college today won’t retire until the ripe old age of 73 – almost a full decade later than the current standard of 65.
As things stand now, millennials are likely to work into their early 70s. What’s to blame for the delayed retirement? You probably guessed it: debt. Namely, student loans.
According to NerdWallet, when it comes time for retirement, a median debt load of $23,300 will have cost students over $115,000. The impact, according to NerdWallet’s report, is that instead of putting money away for retirement in their 20s, millennials will be busy paying off student loans. NerdWallet asks: “When will students be able to retire given that many are spending the first ten years (or more) of their careers paying off their hefty loans?”
It depends how much millennials make out of the gate. NerdWallet compared three different “profiles” of students: Struggling, Normal, and Well Off graduates.
Predictably, those graduating with greater debt and starting out with a lower salary have to wait longer for retirement. But even those graduating with minimized debt and a higher salary will have to wait until their late 60s to retire.
So what can millennials do, if anything? NerdWallet stresses “tailoring financial and career planning accordingly … toward achieving retirement objectives.” That’s right: plan ahead. Taking full advantage of employer retirement programs like a 401(k) is “crucial.” Just ask Justin McCurry, who retired at the spry age of 33. “I always maxed out my 401(k) and IRA and any other tax-deferred savings plan I qualified for,” he told DailyFinance.
Unfortunately, retirement plans seem to be off the radar for millennials. A PayScale survey found that while employer retirement offerings are a priority for Baby Boomers and Generation Xers, they’re the last priority among millennials, who instead focus on things like bus passes and pet health insurance. Similarly, a Wells Fargo survey found that only 17% of millennials list retirement as their biggest financial concern (36% listed student loans), and less than half are currently saving for retirement.
So maybe it’s time to start thinking about retirement, even if you’re in your mid-20s and just starting your career. With a life expectancy of 84 years, you might run out of time.