The most recent State of Retirement Planning study from financial services company Fidelity shows that the turmoil of the past two years has disrupted many Americans’ savings behavior. Overall, one in four respondents are now “less confident than they were before the events of the past two years” — even though 79% are still confident that they can retire when and how they want.
However, 55% of “Next Gen” — which the study defines as Americans between the ages of 18 and 35 — said that they placed their retirement plans on hold during COVID-19, and 45% do not “see a point in saving until things return to normal.” Therefore, 39% “plan to retire later” due to their inaction.
Indeed, stock market conditions are far from normal as worse-than-expected inflation news triggers a fresh round of selloffs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell nearly 3%, the S&P 500 fell about 4%, and the Nasdaq fell nearly 4% on Monday. Last week, the Dow fell 2.7%, the S&P fell 2.9%, and the Nasdaq fell 3.5%.
Apart from the stock market, real estate — another mechanism Americans use as a store of wealth — remains expensive, especially for first-time buyers. Between quarter two of 2020 and quarter one of 2022, the median home sales price has increased from $322,600 to $428,700 — a 33% increase, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
Overall, Fidelity recommends that younger savers “have time but need to ensure they are making smart retirement decisions.”
Meanwhile, 31% of Americans — including Next Gen, older Millennials, Gen-Xers, and Boomers — are not sure “how to keep up with inflation” when saving for retirement, and 71% are “very concerned” about the impact of rising price levels on their retirement preparedness.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 8.6% between May 2021 and May 2022, meaning that inflation has again surpassed record highs. Prices are particularly lofty for energy products such as gasoline, utility gas service, and fuel oil, while food and vehicle prices also continue to soar.
Indeed, 77% of those with a retirement plan reported that they “know what to do to keep up with inflation,” while only 57% of those without a plan said the same, according to the Fidelity survey.
Beyond attitudes about savings in a post-COVID world, another generational shift in retirement planning lies in the use of digital assets. The 2022 Investopedia Financial Literacy Survey recently indicated that 28% of Millennials — those between the ages of 26 and 41 — expect to use cryptocurrencies to support themselves in their retirements. Nearly 20% of Gen Z — those between 18 and 25 — said the same.
“For younger investors, cryptocurrency is clearly not just a fun asset to trade in order to make fast money,” Investopedia editor-in-chief Caleb Silver remarked. “They are depending on generating returns from cryptocurrency to build wealth and fund their retirement, which is concerning given the lack of education around investing in crypto, and the fact it is still not regulated by the industry.”
Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency with the largest market cap, has plummeted from around $48,400 at the end of December to roughly $22,500 as of Tuesday — a 54% drop. Cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase is therefore laying off nearly one-fifth of its workforce amid the troubled digital asset market and overall macroeconomic instability.