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Why Americans are not Saving for Retirement

Posted: 05 Sep 2017 02:05 AM PDT

Here's a piece from GoBankingRates on how Americans are saving for retirement. The highlights:

The most common reason survey respondents gave for not having any retirement savings is, "It is not a priority for me." About 40 percent selected this option, which suggests everyday expenses are likely taking priority over saving for the future.

"We're so focused on today," said Tom Zgainer, CEO of America's Best 401k, a workplace retirement plan provider. As a result, many people aren't thinking about how they'll be able to cover their expenses in the future when they stop working. "It's astounding that we're not thinking forward," he said.

The second most common response also shows a lack of foresight. Nearly 22 percent of respondents said they have no retirement savings because they raided their accounts for a financial emergency. It's not surprising, though, that so many had to tap their retirement funds to cover emergencies. Another GOBankingRates survey found that one-third of Americans have $0 in a savings account — which means they likely don't have cash saved for emergencies.

Lack of access to a workplace retirement plan is also a big reason many Americans don't have savings. Almost 19 percent of survey respondents said, "My employer does not offer a retirement savings plan." But the fact that they don't have any retirement savings suggests they might not be aware there are several ways to save for retirement without a 401k, including a traditional IRA and Roth IRA.

Several thoughts here:

  • The comments above reflect the house of cards most Americans have for their finances. They spend like crazy, don't have an emergency fund, and think a lot more about today than 20 years down the road. Sure, there are some who have no choice and literally can't afford to save for retirement, but the majority certainly can. They simply don't see it as a priority compared to driving new, fancy cars, living in a big house, and having all the latest electronic gadgets.
  • I'm wondering what people consider to be a "financial emergency." To me, a medical expense or major repair is an emergency. Getting a new big-screen TV to watch the Super Bowl or taking that family trip to the Caribbean do not count as emergencies IMO.
  • I had access to a company retirement plan throughout my career. But I always saved additional dollars outside of it. If I hadn't had a plan, I would have saved even more in brokerage accounts, investing as much as I could in index funds. If you don't have a plan, don't let that stop your retirement savings! There are plenty of other options.

Much of this goes back to a lack of financial education as well as not implementing a financial plan. People simply aren't thinking about and taking action on retirement. But one day they will need to retire, and a cold, hard reality is going to hit them.


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