- More than half of Gen Z (53%) consider themselves part of the FIRE movement
- Nearly half of Gen Z (47%) who consider themselves part of the FIRE movement think they’re likely to retire early, yet 32% have no money saved for retirement
- One in five Gen Z respondents (20%) report having no money in savings
Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2005) is doing things differently, bucking societal norms, like the traditional nine-to-five, and forging a new path forward. As part of this, Gen Z has started to gravitate towards trends like the FIRE movement (financially independent, retire early) and are looking for ways to maximize their earnings and limit their number of working years.
According to a new study conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma, more than half of Gen Z (53%) consider themselves part of the FIRE movement. For the purposes of this study, this movement is defined as a population of people devoted to extreme saving and investing with the goal of retiring early. Of those who identify with the movement, nearly half of Gen Z (47%) say they are likely to retire early. However, nearly one-third (32%) of Gen Z report having $0 saved for retirement, demonstrating a misalignment in their plans to retire young and the reality of their financial situation.
Inflation threatens early retirement aspirations
Not having money set aside for retirement is one thing, but what about not having any money in savings, period, which is the case for 20% of Gen Z. This could have something to do with the fact that 30% of Gen Z respondents do not feel financially stable right now, which may be the result of sustained inflation and increasing borrowing costs.
Of Gen Z respondents who are currently employed and have a retirement account (e.g. 401(k), Roth IRA), 20% say they have had to decrease their contributions within the last year as a result of inflation. Meanwhile, 22% of respondents who are currently employed say they cannot afford to contribute to their retirement account, or have no retirement account to contribute to.
Slow and steady wins the race, or not?
When it comes to building retirement savings you have to start somewhere, and it helps to remain consistent. Yet, Gen Z lags behind other generations when it comes to taking advantage of investment vehicles. According to the study, more than three quarters (76%) of Gen Z don’t have a 401(k) or a Roth IRA (89%). What’s more, more than half (54%) don’t have a checking account and nearly half don’t have a savings account (47%).
When taking a closer look at Gen Z’s expectations around retirement, they were the most likely of all the generations to believe they will retire early. Here’s a breakdown of what age respondents expect to retire:
|Plan to retire at what age?|
|31 – 40 yrs||11%||7%||0%|
|41 – 50 yrs||18%||13%||5%|
|51 – 60 yrs||30%||30%||25%|
|61 – 70 yrs||23%||33%||50%|
Among survey respondents who are currently employed or a student
Here’s another look at how much money respondents who consider themselves part of the FIRE movement think they need to retire early:
|$$ needed for early retirement?|
|Less than $500k||15%||11%||15%||29%|
|$500k – $999k||31%||22%||23%||19%|
|$1M – $1.99M||26%||36%||35%||27%|
|$2M – $2.99M||11%||10%||15%||14%|
|$3M – 3.99M||8%||10%||5%||7%|
|More than $4M||9%||10%||8%||5%|
Among respondents who think of themselves as part of the FIRE movement
Deciding how much money is adequate to have saved for retirement is largely dependent on individual lifestyle choices and expectations, and while $1 million is a big chunk of change, is it enough for nearly half of Gen Z (46%) who think they can retire early with less than that in the bank?
“It’s interesting how bullish Gen Z is about their retirement plans, especially since so many have entered the workforce for the first time during an unfavorable economic environment, making it difficult for them to save money,” said Courtney Alev, consumer financial advocate at Credit Karma. “This generation’s appetite to retire early could have something to do with many of them not being beholden to the 9-5 career path, and having grown up on the internet, they’re exposed to content creation at scale – much of it touting alternative ways to make money that people their age appear to be making a cushy living off of. While it’s inspiring to see how Gen Z is reinventing their own career paths, they should still prioritize putting money aside for retirement, or at least focus on building a general savings nest.”
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Qualtrics on behalf of Credit Karma between March 20, 2023 and April 3, 2023 among 1,006 adults ages 18 and older.