Sorry, Class Of 2015: You Will Have To Be At Least 75 Before You Can Retire, Study Says

Retirement always feels like forever away when you’re in your early twenties. But for the young adults among the most recent cohort of college graduates, the age of retirement really is receding further and further into the distance than it is for their older peers.

That’s the finding in a new study from the folks at Nerdwallet. Far from the 65 we all still tend to kind of conceptualize as retirement o’clock, today’s college grads will be working until they’re at least 75, the study finds.

So what’s holding a generation back? A bunch of things.

One is, predictably, student loans. If you step out of school and into the wider world at 22 with a six-figure hole in your pocket already, you’re going to have a hard time saving up any extra pennies, especially in the early years. Nerdwallet finds that the average student debt load at graduation comes in about $35,000 — and they extrapolate that those debt payments, over the course of a 50-year career, work out to over $680,000 in post potential retirement savings.

Also hurting the newest members of the workforce: high rents. Rent prices have increased 11% nationally since 2012, Nerdwallet says, which means that after the student loan and rent bills are paid every month, there’s even less left to go around (let alone into savings). Student debts also mean that young adults are less likely to become young homeowners, which means more time spent paying rent and less time spent building equity or wealth through their houses.

Lastly, Nerdwallet says, millennials who have recently graduated are skittish investors. It’s hard to blame them; a member of the Class of 2015 was probably a sophomore in high school when the stock market and global economy came crashing down around their ears. You can’t make returns on money you aren’t investing.

Nerdwallet suggests:

  • A 23-year-old who begins saving 10% today can shave five years off retirement age, amassing enough to leave work at 70. Saving 4% more per year amounts to $2,000 on a $50,000 salary; that’s about $165 a month.
  • If a 23-year-old can save 15%, it will pay off with a 10-year difference, bringing retirement age down to 65.
  • Someone who hits it out of the park and saves 20% or more could retire as early as age 62, today’s average retirement age.
  • Not mentioned: while some majors pay big and some students get connected to elite careers early on, good luck to most young twentysomethings in most cities and industries trying to find a job paying $50,000 or more right out of school.

    So other than try to hit the lottery or marrying rich, what does NerdWallet suggest a millennial who wants to work for 40 years instead of 50 should do?

    One can avoid the rent problem entirely by living at home with family until at least age 25, the site suggests. Not spending on rent between ages 22 and 25 could end up cutting a full five years off your working career at the other end.

    Outside of that? Invest more aggressively, they suggest. You’re going to need to seek every employer match and look for a high rate of return in order to see real gains over the decades to come.

    NerdWallet’s 2015 New Grad Retirement Report [NerdWallet]

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