In a perfect world, saving for retirement would be easy.
That world assumes everyone makes an adequate salary, can afford all their necessities and a few frills, and feel comfortable setting aside some money for the future.
Yet the reality is that retirement saving is not easy for everyone. Lower income and debt, whether from credit cards or student loans, are two items that can make it difficult to save for the future.
When 30 percent of people surveyed by Stash feel financially squeezed, they start eyeing retirement contributions as a place to cut back. The investing app surveyed more than 2,100 people online in November.
Only about 20 percent think the average American can retire at 65. Despite encouraging trends, such as increases in the minimum wage and low unemployment levels, nearly 30 percent cite low wages as a serious challenge to being able to save for retirement.
In fact, 40 percent of people surveyed by Stash are not putting aside anything for their future retirement.
Many of the findings were a surprise, yet the most troublesome trends had to do with women's savings habits, says Dale Sperling, chief marketing officer of Stash.
Women may deal with more household and family related expenses, or it may be gender wage gaps. "Women, overall, report saving less money for retirement than men each month," Sperling said.
Worse, women's retirement savings take a dive when they are in their mid-30s and early 40s, compared with younger women. "They pick it back up again once they're 45-plus," Sperling said.
How millennials save has been much studied over the past few years. Sperling says Stash suspected this group might be putting away money at a slightly lower rate than older people. "But to see that half of 18- to 34-year-olds aren't saving for retirement at all was still quite a shocking statistic," Sperling said.
If you want to buck these worrisome trends, Sperling says the amount of time in the market is key. Whether you go up and down on your contributions when your finances are tumultuous, "the most important thing you can do for yourself is stick with it," Sperling said. Stay the course, and don't make investing decisions based on your emotions.
And on a more encouraging note, "the data also reveals that many Americans are trying their very best," Sperling said.