Retirement Readiness: Americans Fall Shockingly Short

Retirement Readiness: Americans Fall Shockingly Short

Reality check: The state of Americans' retirement savings might be worse than you think.

While the good news is that the average worker's 401(k) balance reached record highs in 2013, that celebratory stat obscures the large portion of the nation that hasn't even started a nest egg.

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In fact, almost 1 in 3 American adults hasn't yet socked away a cent for their golden years, according to a new Federal Reserve Board report. That percentage varies widely with age: While 50% of Americans 18 to 29 have yet to start saving, that number drops to 15% among the 60-plus set—a rate that, although smaller, might be more alarming, given the group's proximity to retirement age.

Not surprisingly, more than half of those Americans approaching retirement without a nest egg concede that they'll have to make up for their lack of savings by picking up part-time or full-time gigs during their golden years.

So why do so many American adults have no retirement savings to their names? Although big paychecks by no means guarantee a secure retirement—10% of Americans with six-figure salaries also have no nest eggs—low incomes and "financial fragility" do seem to be the biggest culprits, the report suggests. In fact, of those without any retirement savings, a whopping 86% have also not set aside any cash for an emergency fund.

If you're looking to shore up your emergency fund while still socking away for your golden years, learn how to prioritize these major financial goals. (Hint: you should be saving for both an emergency fund and retirement at the same time.)

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