Those that believe the cliché about life beginning at 40 may not be facing up to financial reality, according to Fool.co.uk, as earnings tend to flatten out after they hit 40.
A study showed that those in their mid 20s earn £17,500 compared with £15,000 for 16- to 20-year-olds. However, while wages continue to rise during their 30s they level out at around £35,000 for approximately 16 years by the age of 40.
And this happens at an age when 65 per cent are supporting dependents, including parents and children. Many people's pension
pots are still empty by this age and, if this is the case, pension contributions would need to exceed £2,000 a year to support an average lifestyle at retirement.
Fool.co.uk claims this should act as a warning for those in their 20s and 30s who often rely on credit they cannot afford as they expect their wages to rise significantly as they get older. Head of personal finance at Fool.co.uk, David Kuo, said: "We all like to think that milestone birthdays lead to exciting turning points in our lives.
"With average consumer debt
of £21,450, and potential mortgage debt of much more, it seems those of us indelicately referred to as middle-aged should show some of the conservatism the term implies. No one should ever think they are over the hill at 40, but you will have a financial mountain to climb if you haven't saved enough when you were still young and upwardly mobile."
This is backed up by a new study from Key Retirement Solutions, which found that one in three of over 55s in the UK still have outstanding mortgage debts, a 20 per cent increase compared with 2007 figures. The group found that the over 70s are most at risk, with mortgage debt averaging £45,493.
Business development director, Dean Mirfin, said: "We are seeing more and more people reaching retirement still with outstanding mortgage debt. An increasing number of people are choosing to re-mortgage as an alternative to downsizing, carrying out improvements on their home, or even helping their children get that first step on the property ladder in today's almost impossible market.
"As the cost of living continues to rise, more than ever people approaching retirement should be aware of the real threat debt poses to their finances in retirement and subsequently their lifestyle."
Meanwhile, many people in the UK are concerned that longer life expectancy will put pressure on retirement income
, according to Life Trust Insurance Plc. More than half (54 per cent) said they would be worried about financing their retirement if they were to live 10 years beyond the current average life span of 82 years.
When faced with the prospect of living to the age of 92, 22 per cent said they would use the extra time to keep working as they enjoyed it, while 28 per cent claimed they would have to keep working to ensure they stayed afloat.
Life Trust CEO, Andy Briscoe, said: "We're all living longer than ever before, which should be seen as an opportunity not a burden. But we continue to see a real disconnect between people's perception of retirement, in terms of length and aspirations, and the money they have set aside to pay for it. People need to really consider what they want to achieve in these years and put plans in place to ensure they can afford it."