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10 Scary Retirement Statistics

Dave Ramsey

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.

33% of Americans have no savings.

According to Ramsey’s State of Personal Finance report, over a third of Americans have no savings at all. Zip. Nada. That’s crazy! If you’re in that 33%, you’re setting yourself up for trouble down the line, especially in retirement—monster-sized trouble.

Social Security payments are less than $22,000 a year.

Thinking about relying on Social Security for retirement? Think again. In February 2024, most retired people only got an average of $1,770 per month for Social Security.1 That’s only around $21,200 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 all of your income.2

Only 61% of Americans are investing.

Only 61% of Americans said they own stock, which means 39% aren’t investing in the stock market at all.3 Yikes! But here’s some good news—that’s a small jump from 56% a few years back.4

So, while we’re crawling in the right direction, some people still need to step up their game. Yep, if you’re part of the 39%, that means you (if you’re financially ready to invest). If you’ve heard us say it once, you’ve heard us say it a thousand times: You need to build wealth!

45% of people in debt are either struggling or in crisis with their money.

According to research done by Ramsey Solutions, 45% of Americans who have debt say they’re either struggling financially or in crisis, compared to 23% of people without debt. The pattern continues with 66% of people in debt having trouble paying their bills while only 37% without debt said the same. As you can see, debt can make life a lot harder and way more stressful.

78% of American workers are living paycheck to paycheck.

Forget Halloween. Every day is terrifying when you’re living paycheck to paycheck. And well over half of Americans are doing just that. In fact, Ramsey’s research also found that even a third of people making over $100,000 a year are living paycheck to paycheck. Ay caramba.

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!

64% of Americans have a hard time paying rent.

Ramsey’s research also found that 64% of American renters are having trouble paying their rent. That’s a 28% increase from the first quarter of 2023. If you’re having trouble fitting rent into your budget, it’s time to:

  • Pause any investing
  • Cut back on spending
  • Increase your income
  • Possibly find cheaper living arrangements

Remember, shelter is one of your Four Walls. That means you need to secure the roof above your head before you even start the Baby Steps, let alone invest for retirement. Do what you need to do to fix the problem so you can get back on track. You got this!

Americans are over $1 trillion in credit card debt.

This will really send a chill down your spine—a study done by Ramsey Solutions found that 1 in 3 Americans say they’re relying on their credit cards more than normal, and 1 in 4 have maxed out a credit card in the last 90 days. In fact, as of 2023, the United States has crossed $1 trillion in credit card debt.5 Can you feel our blood pressure rising?


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

You might be thinking to yourself, So what, I’ll just invest for retirement and pay down my debt. No biggie, right? Well, now you sound like the guy whose brilliant idea is to check out that creepy noise from inside the spooky abandoned mansion. You’re looking for trouble.

Look, debt is stealing from you. Trying to save for retirement with debt is like running from Jason Voorhees. You probably won’t make it. As long as you have vampires—whoops, we mean credit card companies—draining your income every month, you’ll always feel behind.

Only 31% of non-retired people feel on track with their retirement savings.

Even though retirement is a top goal in America, 69% of folks feel behind on their retirement savings—a scary feeling.6 But (spoilers for the next stat) over half of American workers haven’t even figured out how much they need to save for retirement.

54% of workers haven’t calculated what they need to live in retirement.7

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!

40% of people have no one they turn to for retirement advice.

Ramsey’s research found that 4 in 10 Americans don’t have anyone they trust for financial advice, especially younger generations. Trying to save for retirement without professional 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.

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. Well, 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 4 said 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 need help looking for a qualified investment pro, be sure to try our SmartVestor program. SmartVestor is a free way to get connected with trusted financial advisors who want to help you win.

Find a SmartVestor Pro today!

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