Retirement expert: Americans can 'catch up' on savings shortfall

More than 3 in 5 Americans say they’re behind on saving for retirement. But most remain optimistic that they can catch up before their golden years start, according to a recent TD Ameritrade survey.

Two-thirds of Millennials, almost three-quarters of Gen Xers and half of Baby Boomers say they’re behind, but for differing reasons. Millennials point to high housing costs as their No. 1 setback, while older adults blame inadequate income.

“There’s nuance,” Keith Denerstein, director of investment products and guidance for TD Ameritrade, told Yahoo Finance. “Of course saving for retirement is important. They all realize it is important.”

Almost 2 in 5 respondents started saving early, according to the survey. But only 1 in 5 consistently maxed out their 401(k) or IRAs, a key strategy in retirement planning, Denerstein noted.

Retirees bowl in Sun City, Arizona. Many Americans are behind on saving for their golden years. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson.

“It certainly makes sense to begin saving as much as possible for retirement as soon as possible, so you can begin building up your war chest.” he said.

How to play catch up

Almost 7 in 10 Americans believe they can catch up on their retirement shortfall, the survey found. Almost two-thirds still believe they will retire by 65 or earlier, if they haven’t already. Almost half of Gen Xers are willing to work longer to meet their retirement goals.

“Nearly 90% of people are willing to make some kind of trade-off,” Denerstein said.

The most common sacrifices are packing lunch for work and making coffee at home, according to the survey. But as time goes by and retirement gets closer, those trade-offs might need to be “larger and larger,” Denerstein said.

Still, “don’t be so hard on yourself, everyone does it,” he said. “But it’s not ... an insurmountable obstacle. You can do things to catch up.”

Janna is an editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @JannaHerron.

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