Card debt a persistent obstacle to retirement savings

Sabrina Karl
Personal Finance Writer
Data whiz and visual storyteller


For Americans who aren’t saving for retirement, a common obstacle is not having any money left over at the end of each month. While part of the problem is covering basic monthly bills, many nonsavers are specifically blaming a struggle with credit card debt.

Schwab Retirement Plan Services surveyed 500 U.S. employees who were not saving in their company’s 401(k) and found 45 percent say they either have no money remaining or are actually behind on bills at the end of each month.

Paying basic monthly expenses was the most common obstacle to putting savings in a retirement plan, cited by 46 percent of the nonsavers. But almost as prominent, at 42 percent, was the savings hindrance of paying off credit card debt.

Less-predictable financial burdens – such as covering an unexpected expense such as a home or car repair, or paying medical bills – played a role in about a third of the respondents’ inability to save with their 401(k).

When asked what one thing they would change about how they’ve handled their finances in the past, more than a quarter of the 401(k) nonsavers (26 percent) said they would have accumulated less debt.

Schwab’s survey focused on U.S. workers, ages 25-70, who were eligible for a workplace 401(k) plan at companies with at least 25 employees. The online interviews were conducted in June, with findings released Aug. 15.

Retirement savings obstacles

See related: 8 steps to reduce your credit card debtCharged Up! podcast: Get the 411 on your 401(k), More infographics

To use the graphic on your site, use the following code:

<center><a href=""><img alt=" Infographic: Retirement savings obstacles" border="0" src="" /></a> </center>

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.

If you are commenting using a Facebook account, your profile information may be displayed with your comment depending on your privacy settings. By leaving the 'Post to Facebook' box selected, your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below.

The editorial content on 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.

Weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, advice, articles and tips delivered to your inbox. It's FREE.

Updated: 02-19-2019