Frightening Finances 2023: How Much to Save and How to Get Ahead of Retirement

A miniature smiling skull sits on a pile of US cash
(Adobe Stock)

Halloween is just around the corner, and I’m teeing up my second installment of this year’s foray into scary economic statistics. There was no shortage of frightening figures to include this year. Heck, you could fill a pillowcase or two with all that I found to go along with your Halloween candy. Hopefully, some of what follows will spur you to introspection and action.


This is the number of years it will take a credit card balance to double at current interest rates. U.S. credit card holders who carry balances pay an average of 22.16% interest, the Federal Reserve reported this year. The Rule of 72, which illustrates the power of compounding, indicates it would take a little over three years for a balance to double at that rate. Carrying such a balance is like sending your young kids off to trick or treat all alone.


This is the percentage of workers who believe they will “work for pay” in retirement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s annual Retirement Confidence Survey. Compare that with the 23% of retirees in the same survey who report they are working for pay during retirement, and you have a significant disconnect. You could be caught short if you try to make working during retirement a centerpiece of your plan.


This is the median retirement savings balance for Americans in the 55-64 age group. Median means half of these folks have more than $134,000 and half have less. This is the age group that should be on the final glide path to retirement landing. Unfortunately, it looks more like a crash landing than a smooth touchdown for many. Every bit helps, so work it, regardless of where you are on the journey.


This is the current average new car loan rate for a borrower with a credit score of 601-660, according to MarketWatch. Not surprisingly, a super prime borrower is paying just over 5%. Takeaways? Get your credit in order before buying a vehicle to ensure you can afford it. Look at the total cost of ownership (loan, insurance, maintenance, gas) and get the best deal for you. This is a spooky time to stretch.


This is the current personal savings rate in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. At USAA, our view is that 15% is a good place to be on that front. Each situation is unique, but saving at a 3.5% clip is like eating your treats while you are going door to door on Halloween. You’ll get to the end of the evening with very little to show for your trick-or-treating journey.

All that might have you running for cover, but if I’ve got you thinking just a little bit about smart money moves, I’d call it a Halloween treat.

Keep Up With Military Pay Updates

Military pay benefits are constantly changing. Make sure you're up to date with everything you've earned. Subscribe to to receive updates on all of your military pay and benefits, delivered directly to your inbox.

Story Continues