Today’s College Grads Can Expect To Retire When They Are 73

Dear college seniors, if you’re planning on living out a long, comfortable retirement, you need to start saving now… or hope that medical science figures out how to extend life even further, because it looks like the average millennial will have a few years of retirement time before they kick off to a higher plane of existence.

According to some new analysis from the nerds at Nerd Wallet, increased student loan debt (a result of soaring tuition costs) along with high levels of unemployment among recent graduates puts the current crop of younger adults at a disadvantage when it comes to retiring at a reasonable age.

Consider the plight of a recent graduate with $23,000 in student loan debt. Nerd Wallet figures that she will, on average, spend the decade following graduation paying around 7% of her earnings each year toward that debt and interest. Unless she has a high-earning job, this means she’ll be unlikely to be able to make any substantial savings toward retirement. Nerd Wallet figures that by the time she’s paid off that debt, she’ll have only saved about $2,466, while the same person who graduated with no debt will have already saved $30,000 more by this point.

Figuring that this fictional consumer is effectively starting her retirement savings from scratch in her early/mid-30s, she will ultimately lose out on more than $115,000 in savings she would have seen had she started right out of college. Thus, she’s saddled with an additional decade of work in order to make up that difference (or face a retirement with potentially insufficient funds to live out her life). Even when she does retire, it will likely be with significantly less in her bank account that someone who didn’t have student loans.

There is no easy fix for getting to a place where you’re retiring at a reasonable age with enough money. The best advice is to save as much as you can as early as possible. Make more than the average contributions to your 401(k) or other retirement accounts, and try to max out any employer’s matching contributions. This could shave years off the age at which you retire.

“Far more than their parents, Millennials will have to rely upon proactive financial management to achieve their retirement goals,” concludes the study.