Such "retirement derailers" set savers back an average of $117,000, according to an Ameriprise Financial survey of 50-to-70-year-olds with at least $100,000 in cash savings and investments.
Nearly all, or 90%, of those surveyed, had experienced at least one economic or life event that hurt their retirement savings. And nearly 40% of respondents said they had been hit by five or more unanticipated events, causing their average loss to jump to $144,000.
"The lesson that we are taking away is expect the unexpected," said Suzanna de Baca, vice president of wealth strategies at Ameriprise Financial.
The recession took a major toll on Baby Boomers' nest eggs. The top three derailers found in Ameriprise's survey were low interest rates that hurt the growth of retirement assets (63%), market declines (55%) and lower-than-expected home equity (33%). And almost 20% pointed to job loss as a factor.
Helping family members was also a common culprit. Nearly a quarter of the people surveyed said supporting adult children or grandchildren had thrown a wrench in their savings plan, while 15% said they had lower income or higher bills related to caring for an aging family member. And 11% said their savings took a hit because they were paying for their kid's education.
Other setbacks included a smaller-than-anticipated inheritance (18%), costly home repairs (17%) and out-of-pocket medical bills (11%).
Nearly half of those surveyed said their savings is less than they had imagined, compared to only 18% who said their nest egg is larger than expected. More than half said they wished they had started saving earlier.