Money

Here's how much the average family in their 50s has saved for retirement

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Retirement in America is changing rapidly

By age 50, your golden years are just around the corner.

To be financially ready to retire by 67, retirement-plan provider Fidelity Investments says you should aim to have eight times your salary saved by age 60.

Are Americans on track?

According to a report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), many Americans have some catching up to do. The mean retirement savings of a family between 50 and 55 years old is $124,831. For families with members between 56 and 61, the mean retirement savings is $163,577.

savings have stagnated in the new millennium

  CEO annual compensation (in thousands)   Worker annual compensation (in thousands)   Stock market (adjusted to 2016)   CEO-to-worker compensation ratio  
 Based on options realizedBased on options grantedPrivate-sector production/nonsupervisory workersFirms industryS&P 500Dow JonesBased on options realizedBased on options granted
1965$843 $800 $40.00 n/a587"6,066"20.2,18.4
1973"$1,102 ""$1,046 "$46.90 n/a519"4,464"22.5,20.5
1978"$1,508 ""$1,431 "$48.00 n/a325"2,774"30.1,27.4
1989"$2,808 ""$2,664 "$45.60 n/a604"4,694"58.9,53.7
1995"$5,947 ""$6,595 "$45.70 $53.10 848"7,042"122.6,136.8
2000"$20,664 ""$21,313 "$48.30 $56.00 "1,989""14,947"376.1,411.3
2007"$19,112 ""$13,282 "$50.20 $56.00 "1,710""15,255"347.5,240.8
2009"$10,746 ""$10,341 "$52.20 $58.20 "1,061""9,941"196.6,183.9
2010"$12,827 ""$11,677 "$52.40 $59.00 "1,255""11,744"230.3,206.3
2011"$12,958 ""$11,997 "$51.80 $58.70 "1,353""12,760"232.7,213.2
2012"$15,261 ""$11,587 "$51.40 $58.30 "1,442""13,554"281.5,209.8
2013"$15,603 ""$11,986 "$51.70 $58.50 "1,694""15,465"291.8,214.5
2014"$16,569 ""$12,469 "$51.90 $58.80 "1,958""17,011"298.7,224.5
2015"$16,341 ""$12,496 "$52.70 $59.70 "2,087""17,810"286.1,219.7
2015 (June 2016)"$15,699 ""$12,173 "$52.90 $59.20 "2,087""17,810"275.4,215.4
2016 (June 2017)"$15,021 ""$12,636 "$53.30 $60.80 "2,095""17,927"259.8,218
2016(projection)"$15,636 ""$12,970 "$53.30 $60.80 "2,095""17,927"270.5,223.8
         
Percent change      Change in ratio 
1965-1978,78.90%78.90%19.90%n/a-44.70%-54.30%9.9,9
1978-2000,1270.10%1389.50%0.60%n/a512.70%438.80%346,383.9
2000-2016-24.30%-39.10%10.50%8.50%5.30%19.90%-105.6-187.5
2009-2016,45.50%25.40%2.20%4.50%97.50%80.30%73.9,39.9
1978-2016,936.70%806.50%11.20%n/a545.20%546.30%240.4,196.4

But those numbers aren't representative of the state of American retirement. Since so many families have zero savings and since super-savers can pull up the average, the median savings, or those at the 50th percentile, may be a better gauge than the mean.

The median for families between 50 and 55 is only $8,000. For families between 56 and 61, it's $17,000.

Most families—even those approaching retirement—have little or no retirement savings

To get closer to Fidelity's recommendation of having eight times your salary saved by 60, follow these four steps so your money can grow over time:

1. Contribute as much of your income as possible. Most experts recommend setting aside 10 percent or more in a tax-advantaged retirement savings account, such as a 401(k) plan.

2. Automate your contributions. Have your employer do a payroll deduction or have your money taken out of your checking account and sent straight to your retirement account. You'll never see the money and will learn to live without it.

3. Get in the habit of upping your savings consistently, either every six months, at the end of each year or whenever you get a raise. Again, if you make this automatic by setting up "auto-increase," you won't forget to up your contributions (or talk yourself out of setting aside a larger chunk).

4. Invest in something other than your retirement-savings plan. Enrolling in your employer's 401(k) plan is a good start, but experts say that it may not provide enough to fund your future. It's smart to consider alternate retirement savings accounts, such as a Roth IRA, traditional IRA and/or health savings account.

You can also research low-cost index funds, which Warren Buffett recommends, and online-investment platforms known as robo-advisers.

Don't miss: Here's how much the average young family has saved for retirement

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Here's how much you should save at every age
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