According to a 2014 survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, only 64 percent of Americans have reported saving any money at all for retirement to supplement anticipated Social Security benefits, USA Today reported.
Those with some savings typically don't have much. The EBRI survey found that roughly six of every 10 Americans have less than $25,000 in total retirement savings, USA Today reported.
"Americans just don't save enough," says Charles Sizemore, chief investment officer of Sizemore Capital Management in Dallas. "The question, of course, is why?"
The obvious answer is that many Americans simply don't have the means. A recent survey from banking and personal finance portal Bankrate.com found that among people who don't have a penny invested in the stock market, 53 percent say that's because of a lack of money more than a lack of desire.
Sizemore says another reason Americans have such trouble with retirement planning is cultural, based on our behaviors and emotions.
"Life is pretty stable here, and we have basic safety nets in place. The countries with the highest savings rates tend to have little or no safety nets, and people are forced to fend for themselves in old age. So in a lot of ways, our success and stability have made us a little lax in our attitudes toward saving," Sizemore says.
Couple that with a lack of mandated savings, and you get an understandable problem.
"In many countries, 401(k)-style contributions are required by law the same way that Social Security (withholding) is here," Sizemore says. "To the average 22-year-old in their first college job, the priority is paying the rent. Retirement savings is not high on the priority list."
There is no shortage of other theories on why Americans are so far behind on savings. But experts agree the solution to this retirement shortfall is deceptively simple: Save early, and save often.
It's all about lifestyle and behavior and making tough choices such as eating out less, forgoing pricey vacations or driving your beat-up sedan a bit longer before taking on a new car payment.