Generation X has another reason to be cynical about the future: Many will not be able to afford retirement unless they slash spending right now and slow the economy in the process.
Other paths to retirement security — a lavish pay raise, more generous Social Security benefits, a massive stock windfall — are more hopes than plans.
This retirement cliff, and the frugality needed to avoid it, comes as younger adults' student debt already is weighing on spending and economic growth.
Gen X must exercise more discipline or risk hardship in old age. The median couple, based on assets, will have only 50% of their pre-retirement income when they turn 65, a recent Pew study found.