Study: Millennials make unrealistic retirement plans

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Think retirement will be a cakewalk, millennials? Think again.

Seventy percent of millennials said they think they will spend less than $36,000 per year in retirement, according to a new survey by the Insured Retirement Institute and the Center for Generational Kinetics. Meanwhile, the average annual expenditures for people ages 65 to 74 were more than $46,000 in 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found.

Unrealistic retirement expectations exist among millennials. The study found that 15 percent of millennials believe that winning the lottery is a viable retirement strategy, while 11 percent expect to be "gifted" money for retirement.

"If that's a strategy, then millennials need some education," Jason Dorsey, chief strategy officer at Center for Generational Kinetics, said in a conference call. The center is a research firm that specializes in age-based data.

The survey of 1,110 adults ages 18 to 65 was conducted in early August.

How millennials should save for retirement

Dorsey added that many of the misconceptions millennials have about retirement have to do with the circumstances they face as well as with their view that retirement may not be an option.

"Even if they are thinking about retirement, they may not have the capital to save for it," said Charles Sachs, wealth advisor at Private Wealth Counsel in Miami.

Millennials' negative perception of the stock market is a byproduct of them having lived through the Great Recession, Sachs said.

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Only 26 percent of people under 30 own stocks, according to a survey.

"You've got people who have just gone through a financial crisis not that long ago, saw the market take an incredible reduction in value and saw a lot of people lose money on paper," Robert Stammers, director of investor education for the CFA Institute, said in the survey.

The study also found that 65 percent of millennials believe Social Security will not provide them with meaningful income in retirement.

The trust fund for Social Security retirement benefits is expected to be depleted by 2034 if Congress doesn't act. At that point, the Social Security Administration would only be able to pay about 75 percent of promised benefits.

How much do you really need for retirement?

While millennials have some misconceptions about retirement, financial advisors say they have time to equip themselves for the golden years.

Start saving for retirement as soon as possible. In fact, for every five years people wait to start saving, their total savings come retirement will drop by about one-third, said David Mendels, director of planning at Creative Financial Concepts in New York City.

For example, someone who started saving at age 20 and retired at 66 can end up with about $2 million, while someone who started saving at 25 to retire at 66 can end up with about $1.3 million, Mendels said.

"The value of starting early is enormous," Mendels said. "Even though you don't believe it, you will get there."