15 Signs Your Retirement Savings Puts You in a Better Position Than the Average American

While you might feel you aren’t prepared for retirement, the average American isn’t either.
Updated April 11, 2024
Fact checked
Older couple looking at a calculator

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Saving for retirement is not easy, especially when you're trying to stop living paycheck to paycheck. But it becomes much easier once you create a budget and get out of debt.

If you feel like you’re behind on retirement savings, you’re not alone. But you might be more prepared than you think. See how your retirement plan stacks up to the rest of Americans.

Eliminate your late tax debt

Each year, the IRS forgives millions in unpaid taxes. If you have more than $10,000 in tax debt, or have 3+ years of unfiled taxes, you could get forgiveness too. You might be eligible to lower the amount you owe, or eliminate your tax debt completely.

Easy Tax Relief could help you lower or get out of your tax debt for good. They’re well respected in the industry and have been recognized for their ethical standards when dealing with tax debt. While most tax companies just put you on a payment plan and file your taxes for you, Easy Tax Relief talks to the IRS directly. They can help you pay off your tax debt faster while potentially reducing what you owe.

Important: Not everyone will qualify. To take advantage of this special program you must owe more than $10,000 in past-due taxes.

Fill out this form to get started

You know how much you need to save for retirement

insta_photos/Adobe senior lady sitting at table with laptop calculator and cup reviewing taxes at home

You’re one step ahead of half of Americans if you’ve determined how much money you’ll need in retirement (which can be a great way to lower your financial stress).

It’s not possible to know how long your retirement will last or if you’ll experience major health concerns. But factoring in inflation, lifestyle, and accounting for emergencies can help you come up with an estimate.

You started saving before age 27

Syda Productions/Adobe woman sitting on couch at home holding money

The earlier you can start saving for retirement, the better. Workers in their 20s may make less than they will in later years, but saving any amount for retirement is a good start.

Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS) revealed 27 is the median age Americans begin retirement savings. If you haven’t reached 27 yet — or started saving before then — you’re more prepared than most.

You’re under 35 and have more than $12,300 in savings

dusanpetkovic1/Adobe man sitting at table in front of laptop reviewing bills in hand

According to PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PWC), the median retirement savings for Americans under 35 is $12,300. This amount does not include other types of savings.

If you have more than this in personal retirement savings or in a 401(k), you are already doing better than most.

Earn $200 cash rewards bonus with this incredible card

There's a credit card that's making waves with its amazing bonus and benefits. The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card(Rates and fees) has no annual fee and you can earn $200 after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months.

The Active Cash Card puts cash back into your wallet. Cardholders can earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases — easy! That's one of the best cash rewards options available.

This card also offers an intro APR of 0% for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (then 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable). Which is great for someone who wants a break from high interest rates, while still earning rewards.

The best part? There's no annual fee.

Click here to apply now.

You're 35-44 and have more than $37,000 in savings

Allistair/peopleimages.com/Adobe couple sitting on countertop at kitchen reviewing monthly budget on papers

PWC found that the median retirement savings of 35-44 year-olds was $37,000. 

If you fall in this age group but haven’t hit this number yet, take advantage of any employer matching available to you.

Pro tip: The key to building up your savings is to just add money every month by making it part of your budget. 

You’re 45-55 and have more than $82,600 in savings

goodluz/Adobe attractive senior couple reviewing financial budget using laptop with papers and cup on table

By age 55, you’re only 10 years away from full retirement age, yet PWC noted Americans 45-55 only had a median of $82,600 saved for retirement.

If you have more money than this saved, you’re in better shape than most. But you’ll want to grow this number significantly to enjoy a comfortable retirement.

You’re 55-64 and have more than $120,000 in savings

Wesley JvR/peopleimages.com/Adobe african american couple sitting on couch reviewing financial statements at home with laptop on table

$120,000 is not a lot of money, considering it might need to last 20 or more years. But this was the median retirement savings for adults 55-64, according to PWC.

Retirees with only $120,000 in savings might have to rely on Social Security benefits or continue to work during “retirement.”

You have a retirement plan and haven’t dipped into it

Andrey Popov/Adobe drawing retirement plan growth graphs on paper

A Bankrate survey found that 51% of Americans with an IRA or 401(k) took early withdrawals. Dipping into these retirement accounts comes with added costs, such as penalties and taxes.

You can avoid needing to take early withdrawals from your retirement account by growing a healthy emergency account that you can dip into instead.

Pro tip: Budgeting correctly can help you prepare ahead by keeping an emergency fund. This allows you to have funds available for the unexpected and can help you keep more money in savings long-term.

You have an HSA

utah51/Adobe health savings account paper on clipboard with stethoscope and money on wooden table

A health savings account (HSA) can prevent you from needing to make early withdrawals from your 401(k) for qualified medical expenses.

Contributions and qualified withdrawals aren’t subject to tax, so you can keep more money in your pocket. Although HSAs have become more popular, many Americans still don’t take advantage of them.

You have less than $5,000 in credit card debt

maxbelchenko/Adobe woman using card for online payment

Although credit card balances decreased in 2021, the average American still carries over $5,000 in credit card debt, according to Experian.

Carrying a balance from month to month could hurt your financial goals, especially when it comes with high interest rates. Pay off debts and keep current card balances manageable to stay on track for retirement.

Take advantage of historically high rates to grow your wealth

Are your savings just sitting around, not earning much interest? It's time to make a change and put your money to work for you! With CloudBank 24/7, you can earn more interest on your money today ... while keeping your cash OUT of the stock market.

Here’s their secret: CloudBank 24/7 amplifies your money by doing what many banks refuse to do … paying you a rare 5.24% APY (annual percentage yield)12 on your cash.

When you deposit your money into this high-yield savings account, you can supercharge your emergency fund, short-term savings, return on cash, and more with interest income generated from their high 5.24% APY payout.

The best part? There are no fees, you can withdraw your money at any time, and opening an account takes as little as 3 minutes. CloudBank 24/7 is FDIC-insured through Third Coast Bank SSB and cybersecurity is a top priority, ensuring your data is kept safe.

Click here to open a CloudBank 24/7 online savings account

You’ve paid off your student loans

zimmytws/Adobe graduation cap on united states dollars scattered around

According to a Bankrate survey, more than half of Americans ages 18-41 put off making significant financial decisions due to student loan debt.

And 27% have cited student loan debt as a reason for not growing their emergency savings.

If you’ve paid off — or are close to paying off — your student loan debt, you are in a much better financial position than other Americans in this age group.

Debt isn’t preventing you from saving or making financial decisions

fizkes/Adobe female real estate agent sitting across african american couple on table with coffee discussing mortgage

Student loan debt isn’t the only thing that can impact your financial decision-making. Mortgages, car loans, personal loans and medical debt can hinder your savings progress.

Paying down debt will put you in a better position to save for retirement. Improving your credit score can help you get approved for credit cards with lower rates.

You fully understand Social Security benefits

gunnar3000/Adobe social security benefits form on table with glasses and pen

While many Americans know they shouldn’t rely on Social Security retirement benefits, less than 25% of people fully understand them, according to TCRS.

Knowing how these benefits work, how much you can expect, and if they are guaranteed will help you plan more effectively for retirement.

You stay up to date on retirement planning strategies

Prostock-studio/Adobe african american couple sitting in front of female financial advisor having discussion with papers and cup on table

It’s a good idea to stay up to date on the latest retirement planning strategies and regulations, but most Americans don’t do this.

It’s not always easy to follow constantly changing laws or adjust to new conditions. A qualified financial planner can determine the best retirement strategies when new regulations arise.

You make more than $1,145 per week

pitipat/Adobe boss lady in suit giving salary to businessman in suit at office with laptop on table

The more money you make, the more you can save. According to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly pay for full-time working Americans was $1,145 in the last quarter of 2023.

You should try to allocate at least 15% of your pre-tax income for retirement if possible. If you’re making the median wage of $1,085, that comes out to $171.75 each week. 

If this is you, then you might want to find ways to make extra money.

You live a healthy lifestyle

NDABCREATIVITY/Adobe couple looking at each other tying laces for jogging outdoors

Some people fail to realize how much money they can save by living a healthy lifestyle. Staying active, eating healthy, and avoiding things like smoking can reduce the risk of significant health problems.

Obesity can lead to heart disease and even heart failure. And smoking can cause terminal illnesses, such as cancer. Choosing to live a healthy lifestyle could save you tens of thousands of dollars.

Bottom line

Prostock-studio/Adobe african american man playing with grandson while having him on shoulders

Getting ready for retirement can take decades of saving and a lot of planning, especially when you want to retire early.

The truth is that most Americans are behind on retirement savings, but you can do better. And it’s never too early to start saving. 

Use these available tips to help you plan ahead so you can enjoy the retirement you dream of.

Lucrative, Flat-Rate Cash Rewards


Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Current Offer

$200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months

Annual Fee


Rewards Rate

Earn 2% cash rewards on purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Katelyn Washington Katelyn Washington is a writer with a passion for finance and business. She put herself through business school as a single mother of three and has had pieces commissioned by national magazines. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and editing manuscripts for indie authors.

Want to learn how to make an extra $200?

Get proven ways to earn extra cash from your phone, computer, & more with Extra.

You will receive emails from FinanceBuzz.com. Unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy

  • Vetted side hustles
  • Exclusive offers to save money daily
  • Expert tips to help manage and escape debt