OCTOBER 23, 2018

Picturing Life in Retirement Can Motivate Increased Savings, New Survey Finds

Capital Group survey reveals people who envision their 60s, 70s and 80+ years recommend saving 31% more per paycheck in a retirement plan

LOS ANGELES, October 23, 2018 — A large majority of Americans agree they need to save more and invest better to prepare for retirement, but new research reveals an action that may make all the difference: When people envision how they want to live in their retirement years, they are motivated to save more. The research, based on a survey of 1,202 American adults conducted by Capital Group, home of American Funds, and one of the world’s leading investment management firms, also examines Americans’ changing expectations for their retirement years, revealing that only one in 10 Americans believe strongly that traditional models of employment and retirement will be the norm for most people in the coming decades.

“When people think about their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond, they overwhelmingly view that part of life as a time of freedom and independence compared to their 20s and 30s,” said Heather Lord, senior vice president and head of strategy and innovation at Capital Group. “Our survey reveals that people who envision the life they want in retirement recommend saving more of each paycheck in a 401(k) account. This simple insight — if you can picture your retirement, you can save for it — can help Americans secure the financial future they want in their later years.”

Visualize retirement, save one-third more

Americans largely believe that advances in health care, technological innovations and their financial situation will enable them to lead better and more diverse lifestyles in their later years versus prior generations. Nearly six in 10 survey respondents (58%) believe their retirement years will be more positive than that of their parents and older generations.

People understand they need to save more for their retirement. Eighty-five percent of survey respondents believe Americans need to save more and invest better to prepare for their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond. But with so many competing financial needs — rising housing and health care costs, student debt and the cost of raising a family — Americans often struggle to save enough for their retirement.

Capital Group’s survey included an experiment to better understand potential motivators for getting people to increase the amount they are willing to save for retirement. Half of the survey respondents were asked to envision the lives they want to lead in their 60s, 70s and 80+ years before determining what percent of each paycheck to save in a retirement plan. The other half were only asked how much they wanted to save for retirement. Survey participants who were asked to picture their retirement years recommended saving 31% more per paycheck in a retirement savings plan on average than the second group of respondents. For women and millennials in the first group, the result was a 40% to 50% positive swing in the average recommended 401(k) savings rate.

The takeaway? If people picture their retirement years, they are motivated to save more.

Americans will need more opportunities to work, earn and save later in life

Americans also predict big changes for society, the workplace and the economy. Only 11% of respondents believe strongly that traditional models of employment and retirement will be the norm for most people in coming decades. Eighty percent expect that flexible and part-time jobs will play a bigger role in supporting retirement savings, and 79% feel that Americans will need more opportunities to work, earn and save later in life. Further, most Americans expect to self-fund their retirement. In addition:

  • Three quarters (73%) expect their 401(k) and IRA accounts to be among their top three sources of financial security in retirement years.
  • Two-thirds (63%) of boomers list Social Security as one of their top three expected sources of retirement income, compared to only one-third (32%) of millennials and 43% of Generation X respondents.
  •  About one in five (18%) millennials said full-time or part-time work would be important for their financial security in retirement, twice the level of boomers (9%) and higher than Gen Xers (14%).
  • Six in 10 boomers (60%) expect to be financially secure in their 60s, and 54% expect to be doing okay financially in their 80s.
  • By contrast, only 48% of millennials and Gen Xers believe they will be financially secure in their 60s. This drops to 41% for millennials and 43% for Gen Xers for their 80s and older.

“The financial services industry sometimes accentuates worries and guilt to get people to pay more attention to planning and saving for retirement,” Lord added. “Fear doesn’t generally work. We believe — and our survey shows — that imagining one’s later years is a powerful exercise that helps drive increased average savings per paycheck for retirement. This insight could contribute to innovative retirement plan design and behavioral techniques to help Americans build bigger nest eggs for retirement.”

For additional information and the full report, click here.

About Capital Group

Since 1931, Capital Group, home of American Funds, has been singularly focused on delivering superior results for long-term investors using high-conviction portfolios, rigorous research and individual accountability. As of June 30, 2018, Capital Group manages more than $1.8 trillion in equity and fixed income assets for millions of individual and institutional investors around the world.

The Capital Group companies manage equity assets through three investment groups. These groups make investment and proxy voting decisions independently. Fixed income investment professionals provide fixed income research and investment management across the Capital organization; however, for securities with equity characteristics, they act solely on behalf of one of the three equity investment groups.


Caroline Semerdjian (Los Angeles)
+1 (213) 615-3185

Dana Schwartz
(646) 218-8742 

Investments are not FDIC-insured, nor are they deposits of or guaranteed by a bank or any other entity, so they may lose value.

Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. This and other important information is contained in the fund prospectuses and summary prospectuses, which can be obtained from a financial professional and should be read carefully before investing. 

This content, developed by Capital Group, home of American Funds, should not be used as a primary basis for investment decisions and is not intended to serve as impartial investment or fiduciary advice.

Statements attributed to an individual represent the opinions of that individual as of the date published and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Capital Group or its affiliates. This information is intended to highlight issues and should not be considered advice, an endorsement or a recommendation.

All Capital Group trademarks are registered trademarks owned by The Capital Group Companies, Inc. or an affiliated company. All other company and product names mentioned are the trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.

Use of this website is intended for U.S. residents only.

American Funds Distributors, Inc., member FINRA.