BACK

Hero Images/ Getty Images

Research and Statistics

Gen-Xers putting off retirement savings to pay off debt, survey shows

For adults age 39-54, credit card and student loan debt get in the way of 401(k) contributions

Summary

A new survey shows 42 percent of Americans age 39-54 are more focused on debt repayment than saving for retirement. The top factor was unexpected expenses like home repairs, cited by 38 percent. But credit card debt came in a strong second, at 31 percent.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired. Please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs.

Americans in their 40s and early 50s have retirement on the not-so-distant horizon. Yet more than 4 in 10 say they are prioritizing paying off debt over contributing to their 401(k).

The finding comes from a survey by Schwab Retirement Plan Services, which surveyed 401(k) participants in Generation X, who are ages 39 to 54. When asked whether they were more focused on saving for retirement or paying off debt, 42 percent indicated debt repayment.

The top factor getting in the way of respondents adding to their 401(k) was unexpected expenses like home repairs, cited by 38 percent. Credit card debt came in a strong second, at 31 percent, and another debt obligation, the respondents’ own student loans, was indicated as an obstacle by 11 percent.

See related:  Student loan debt has ripple effect throughout young adults’ financial lives

Almost 3 in 10 said the need to cover their bills each month was thwarting their retirement savings efforts (29 percent), and 22 percent reported feeling the pinch due to paying for their children’s education or tuition.

The survey also asked Gen Xers what causes them the most money stress. Saving enough for retirement took the top spot, at 40 percent of respondents. And credit card debt followed as the second biggest source of financial anxiety, at 27 percent.

Schwab’s survey of 1,000 U.S. 401(k) participants was conducted online by Logica Research in mid to late March 2019, with results released Sep. 10.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

What’s up next?

In Research and Statistics

Credit card statements: how to read and understand them

Credit card statement makeovers were required by new federal rules that were implemented in three phases, with the last one taking effect in August, 2010.

See more stories
Credit Card Rate Report Updated: April 1st, 2020
Business
14.07%
Airline
15.85%
Cash Back
16.16%
Reward
16.06%
Student
15.87%

Questions or comments?

Contact us

Editorial corrections policies

Learn more

Join the Discussion

We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

The editorial content on CreditCards.com is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company’s business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.