In an era where college undergraduates are spending five dollars on a cup of coffee and ten dollars on avocado toast, now seems like an appropriate time to reevaluate these questions:
• Are current college undergraduates interested in the idea of saving for retirement?
• Do they have realistic expectations about how much money they need to save in order to live comfortably during retirement?
• Are there differences in expectations between people who are interested in saving for retirement using traditional means and people who are interested in saving for retirement using the extreme-saving FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) method?
This paper examines students’ interest in the idea of saving for retirement through a series of lenses: demographics, financial retirement literacy, and expressed commitment to save for retirement. I hypothesized that traditional retirement expected savers and FIRE expected savers, who correctly answer financial retirement literacy questions, are realistic about how much money they will need to save in order to live comfortably during retirement. To investigate this, a survey was sent out to two ASU Tempe campus business classes; 171 completed responses were analyzed. The statistical analysis of the unfiltered survey results showed three findings, but one finding stood out the most: Students who know what a 401k is (Question 5 in Exhibit 1) are significantly more likely to plan on saving for retirement, when compared to students who don’t know what a 401k is.
When filtering survey results to only show responses from students who know what a 401k is, median responses show that traditional retirement expected savers are somewhat realistic with their retirement savings expectations, while FIRE expected savers are not realistic with their retirement savings expectations.