The Lamest Retirement Excuses People Tell Themselves

Planning for retirement is smart, but it’s not always the most enjoyable activity. Reaching your retirement savings goal requires some sacrifice now, so you can enjoy life later. However, not everyone thinks this way. Less than half of workers in the United States (48%) said they and/or their spouses have never calculated how much money they’ll need for retirement, according to an Employee Benefit Research Institute survey.
Instead of focusing on the results, some people make excuses for why they can’t save for retirement. Here are some of the lamest retirement excuses people tell themselves.

1. I’ll work until I die

scene from iZombie
Trying to work until the day you die? | The CW

If you reason that you can just put off retirement savings because you plan to work until you die at your desk, you might want to rethink that plan. The odds of being physically unable to work at some point in your life are higher that you might expect.
Roughly 1 in 4 of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before they have a chance to retire, according to the Council for Disability Awareness. Still, some millennials say they expect to work until they draw their last breath. A survey of adults ages 20 to 34 conducted by Manpower Group found about 12% of millennials in the United States believe they will have to work until their dying day.
Next: Put yourself before your kids.

2. I need to save for my kids’ college education

glass jar full of coins displaying college
Your child’s college fund shouldn’t come before your retirement. |

Your kids can get a scholarship for college. You, on the other hand, can’t get a scholarship for retirement. In addition, your child can choose a less expensive option for school or take on a side job. Transfer some of the responsibility for college financing to your children. It will teach them a bit of responsibility.
The best gift you can give your children is not to be a burden on them when you’re older. In this situation it’s best to put yourself ahead of the kids. Don’t feel guilty; they’ll appreciate it later.
Next: A windfall can’t be part of your plans.

3. I’ll save when I make more money

Young woman thinking about paying bills
Waiting for a raise isn’t the best strategy for retirement saving. |

Time is quickly ticking away. If you wait until you make more money, you might be waiting for a very long time. Raises and promotions aren’t guaranteed (neither is your job), so you might as well go ahead and start socking away some cash now. The longer you wait to save, the less time your money has to grow.
If you delay saving for retirement until you’re 35 years old, you’ll need to save more than 16% of your income each year to produce the same total at age 65 as a worker who started saving 10% of their income starting at 30 years old, according to the Insured Retirement Institute. If you decide to wait until 40 years old, you would have to save more than 26% of your income.
Next: Make room in your budget.

4. I can’t afford to save for retirement

wallet full of money
Being a little short on cash shouldn’t stop you from saving. |

Saving for retirement means you’ll have to give up some comforts right now, but you really can’t afford not to save. If your finances are tight, work on developing a budget to make room for retirement savings. Your future survival could depend on it.
Howard Dvorkin, CPA and chairman of, said the people who claim to not be able to afford retirement are usually the ones who are wearing most of their money in the form of expensive purchases:

The lamest excuses I always hear are the unsaid ones. I meet someone who tells me they simply can’t afford to save for retirement, as they look at their Omega wristwatch and climb into their leased BMW so they can pack for their vacation to the Bahamas. Yes, many Americans are struggling and simply have trouble making ends meet, and I respect and work with them. But I meet many other Americans who earn quite enough to meet all their obligations — but they spend frivolously without ever admitting it to themselves.

Next: Education is key.

5. I don’t know how much to save

Thinking young woman looking up at many question marks
Not sure how much to save for retirement? |

There are plenty of retirement tools available that can help you figure out how much cash to put away. This is one of the worst excuses for not building your nest egg. These tools allow you to create a retirement budget, figure out life insurance needs, estimate retirement income, and more.
As a general rule of thumb, you should aim to have at least one time your salary saved by age 30, three times by age 40, seven times by age 55, and 10 times your salary by the time you reach 67 years of age, according to Fidelity.
Next: Even the unemployed need to save.

6. I don’t have a job

guy sleeping on the couch
Don’t immediately cut saving for retirement from your financial plan if you’re in between jobs. |

Yes, retirement planning can feel a little crazy if you’re not even working. And obviously the essentials — food, clothing, shelter (and nowadays Netflix) — are going to take priority when finances are extremely tight. But if you’re just temporarily in between jobs don’t allow retirement contributions to be the first thing you cut to stretch your budget. You might need to reduce the amount you’re saving, but keeping it as part of your financial plan will benefit you in the long run.
Next: Plan for old, old age.

7. I don’t think I’ll live that long

Group of friends partying in a nightclub and toasting drinks
Just because you can’t imagine yourself as a 90-year-old doesn’t mean it won’t happen. | jacoblund/Getty Images

So what if no one in your family lived past their 70s? You might end up being the lucky centenarian of the squad. As medicine continues to advance life expectancy is going up. So what was old age for your parents might look entirely different for you.
Certified financial planner Rosanne Roge tells Bankrate that she advises her clients to plan to age 100. “We tell our clients to have their retirements funded 120 percent,” she says. It’s always a better problem to have too much money than too little.
Next: Don’t put all your eggs in the Social Security basket.

8. I’ll rely on Social Security

Social Security form with pen and glasses
Social Security might not be there when you retire. |

Think Social Security will let you live in comfort during your golden years? Think again. For one, the system is in trouble and could only pay 77% of promised benefits by 2034 if reform doesn’t happen. And the average monthly benefit of about $1,400 probably won’t cover all of your expenses. With cost of living rising and the questions surrounding Social Security, it’s not wise to use this as an excuse not to save for retirement.
Additional reporting by Mary Daly.