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A third of people have nothing saved for retirement

Peter Cade | Image Bank | Getty Images

A lot of folks have empty nest eggs.

A third of people (36 percent) in the U.S. have nothing saved for retirement, a new survey shows.

In fact, 14 percent of people ages 65 and older have no retirement savings; 26 percent of those 50 to 64; 33 percent, 30 to 49; and 69 percent,18 to 29, according to the survey of 1,003 adults, conducted for Bankrate.com, a personal finance website.

Read MoreWhy many Americans aren't saving for retirement

"These numbers are very troubling because the burden for retirement savings is increasingly on us as individuals with each passing day," says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com. "Regardless of your age, there is no better time than the present to start saving for your retirement. The key to a successful retirement is to save early and aggressively."

Other recent research confirms that many people aren't saving enough for their golden years. About 36 percent of workers have less than $1,000 in savings and investments that could be used for retirement, not counting their primary residence or defined-benefits plans such as traditional pensions, and 60 percent of workers have less than $25,000, according to a survey of 1,000 workers from the non-profit Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald and Associates.

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Many people realize that they are not on track in saving for retirement, and the two most important reasons they give are cost of living and day-to-day expenses, says Jack VanDerhei, the institute's research director.

He advises people to join the 401(k) plan if their employer offers one and to make sure to contribute at least enough to receive the maximum employer match. "Contributing anything less than that is leaving free money on the table," he says.

Read MoreThe millennial retirement problem

Other findings from the Bankrate.com survey:

  • Some people are starting to tuck away retirement savings at an earlier age. About 32 percent of people ages 30 to 49 started saving for retirement in their 20s, compared with 16 percent who began in their 30s. About 24 percent of people 50 to 64 started saving for retirement in their 20s vs. 21 percent who began in their 30s. About 16 percent of people 65 and older started saving for retirement in their 20s; 15 percent in their 30s; 17 percent in their 40s.
  • 24 percent are less comfortable with their debt than they were a year ago; 23 percent are more comfortable.
  • Job security, net worth and overall financial situation are areas in which people have seen improvement over one year ago.
  • 32 percent of people are less comfortable with their overall savings now than they were a year ago; 16 percent are more comfortable.

"Month in and month out, consumers sound a dour tone about how they feel about their overall level of savings," McBride says. "Many people know they are under saved, whether it's for emergencies, retirement or both."

Read MoreOlder Americans seek roomies to survive

—By Nanci Hellmich, USA Today.

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