Millennials Want to Retire at 50. How to Afford It Is Another Matter.

“You don’t want to have all of your savings in pretax retirement accounts that can be costly to use before age 59.5,” he said. Mr. Northrup will sometimes recommend that his millennial clients reduce their retirement savings to have more cash available for shorter-term goals like buying a house, taking a trip or paying down debt.

Valerie A. Rivera, a certified financial planner and founder of FirstGen Wealth in Chicago, gives her millennial clients similar advice. When one of her clients was maxing out her 401(k) but struggling to save for a home, Ms. Rivera advised her to put that money in a brokerage account to be used for the real estate. “It feels different, more tangible and desirable, because they can access it,” she said.

When Ms. Minichiello and her husband decided to save money for a second home in mid-2020, the couple’s savings rate dropped to a range of 40 to 50 percent. Instead of investing their money, they squirreled it away in a high-yield savings account they named Awesome Life Fund.

In 2021, they bought a home on Cape Cod, which they plan to rent out when not using it with their two young children. “I believe your financial approach needs to be aligned with your values,” Ms. Minichiello said. “I value freedom and flexibility more than anything else.”

Few millennials, Ms. Minichiello included, believe that they’ll have access to Social Security funds when they reach 62, and many are skeptical that traditional plans alone, such as a 401(k) or Roth I.R.A., will be adequate.

“I don’t know anyone who says, ‘Thank God I have my Roth I.R.A.,’” said Joshua Frappier, 34, a real estate agent in Newburyport, Mass., selling properties in southern New Hampshire and the north shore of Massachusetts.

Mr. Lyman agrees that even contributing the maximum amount to a 401(k) plan each year — this year’s limit is $20,500 — wouldn’t enable you to save enough money to be financially independent at 50. You would need other assets, such as real estate, an investment account or a business that generates passive income to create enough wealth, he said.

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