Empowering Silver Economies: Navigating Financial Wellness in the Golden Years

Brianna Maguire

Written by Brianna Maguire on Tue May 21 2024.

An older man and woman are sitting at a table with paper and a laptop in front of them, discussing their finances

Americans in their golden years have unique financial concerns, from rising health care costs to the challenges of living on a fixed income. To learn more about them, we surveyed 607 Americans aged 60 and above about their budgeting struggles, financial fears, and the wisdom they want to impart to younger generations. Let’s uncover the financial realities today’s seniors are dealing with and see what insights they have to offer.

Key Takeaways

  • Over 1 in 4 seniors (28%) don’t follow a budget in their retirement.

  • On average, seniors think they need $1.1 million to live comfortably for the rest of their lives.

  • Nearly 2 in 5 (38%) are very concerned about depleting their money before the end of their life, and 70% don’t have a plan if that were to happen.

  • The average age at which seniors wish they had started saving for retirement was 25.

  • 18% are currently experiencing financial deficits (being “in the red”), and 30% had to downsize their home to get back in the green.

  • 1 in 10 seniors are considering crypto as an alternative investment.

Sticking to a Budget in Retirement

Retirement should be a time of relaxation and enjoyment, but for many seniors, financial struggles make it difficult to fully embrace this new chapter. To start, we looked into why that may be the case.

More than 1 in 4 seniors (28%) said they don’t follow a budget in their retirement. Of those who said they do, 81% have found it challenging to stick to it. Nearly half of seniors (45%) have found it hard to pay for groceries, and 8% said they often can’t make essential payments. Seniors said they need a median of $500,000 to live comfortably for the rest of their lives.

Looming Financial Threats

Many seniors in their retirement years are haunted by financial fears. They shared their biggest concerns with us and told us what they might do if some of these fears come true.

Nearly 2 in 5 seniors (38%) were very concerned about running out of money in their lifetimes, and 70% didn’t have a plan in place to handle that if it were to happen. Other common concerns included medical expenses popping up (according to nearly 1 in 2 seniors) and being unable to afford senior care (39%). When we surveyed them, 18% of seniors were “in the red” (experiencing financial deficits), and 30% had to downsize their homes to get back in the green. 

Wisdom From the Golden Years

Luckily, hindsight is 20/20. Seniors had valuable financial planning insights to share with younger generations — here’s what they said.

When asked about the top pieces of financial advice they’d give to younger people, seniors recommended they:

  • Start saving for retirement as soon as possible (93%)

  • Stop spending beyond your means (84%)

  • Pay off credit card bills in full each month (77%)

So, when’s a good time to start saving for retirement? The average age at which seniors wish they had is 25. If they had, it might be easier for them to afford to pay for nonessentials. But as it stands, 58% of seniors have decreased this type of spending to make ends meet in their golden years. One-tenth of seniors have even considered crypto as an alternative investment strategy to bolster their retirement savings.

Lessons From Seniors’ Financial Experiences

From the struggles of sticking to a budget to the looming fear of running out of money, seniors can face many financial hurdles in their golden years. But despite these difficulties, they offer invaluable advice to younger generations: start saving early, live within your means, and be mindful of debt. By taking these lessons to heart and planning ahead, you can work toward a more secure financial future so your retirement years are filled with the comfort and peace of mind you deserve.


We surveyed 607 American seniors (aged 60+) to explore the financial security and habits of seniors. For average savings amounts, outliers below $1,000 were removed.

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Brianna Maguire
Brianna Maguire

Brianna Maguire heads up Carewell’s Customer Care Team, and serves as a resource for caregivers that need support. Whether it’s helping customers decide which products are best for their needs, answering caregiver questions, or just providing a shoulder to lean on on a tough day, her job is to make caregivers’ lives easier.