The “retirement crisis” and some eye-opening data about Americans’ savings

The main point of this Washington Post column is to describe the looming danger facing retirees with insufficient savings, and to suggest one possible answer (a supplement to Social Security). But I found the column most interesting for its discussion of savings rates among even Americans living above the median income (spoiler alert: they're alarmingly low). Another interesting tidbit:

A 2011 study found that half of American families couldn’t put their hands on $2000 within 30 days if an emergency struck. As the authors wrote,
that $2000 amount “reflects the order of magnitude of the cost of an
unanticipated major car repair, a large copayment on a medical expense,
legal expenses, or a home repair.”

Helps explain how easily people fall into debt, and why consumer protection laws are so important to so many people.

0 thoughts on “The “retirement crisis” and some eye-opening data about Americans’ savings

  1. Diana Hughes says:

    I am a retiree living on Social Security after working nearly 50 years, rearing 3 daughters, and trying to “do things right” by investing in a home for my “old age.” Suddenly, however, I developed severe skeletal problems and had to quit working 1 1/2 yrs before my 66th birthday (the new SS retirement age). I also found I could not physically or financially maintain my home and yard and needed to sell it. Well, as many others in America, I found the value of my house was significantly less than I had invested in it, because of the horrific bank / housing market “crash,” so I had to refinance with an interest-only mortgage that allowed for a monthly payment low enough for some to lease it at a reasonable monthly rate. Yep, my “best laid plans” for retirement have me “caught” with renting a tiny apartment and trying to “survive” on my SS income, while I’m still “stuck” with the financial obligation of a house that isn’t being as well maintained by the tenants as I had hoped. Soooo, even after trying to “do what was right” and plan for my old age, I’ve found myself in a very uncomfortable “fix.” BUT, at least I DO have Social Security … the ol’ “forced retirement” program that is good for working/retiring Americans. Of course, if the Republicans get their way, this “God send” may be destroyed for future retirees who the Repubs believe should be saving — today — for their older years. Regretably, though, because of the way Repubs and banks are handling things — LOW, LOW interest rates on savings, trying to “privatize” Social Security and Medicare, corporate destruction of pension & profit-sharing plans for workers — it is going to be very difficult for today’s workers to save enough for their futures … especially when inflation, taxes, fees, etc. will be higher than ever. Bottom line, my children and their children are in for “real trouble” when they get too ill or too old to work. Further, as salaries continue to stagnate, and the cost of living continues to increase, and people feel the NEED to begin working at earlier ages and keep on working until they are very old, we’re going to have a country filled with too many workers and not enough jobs … resulting in even more people reliant on financial assistance from the government in order to “survive.” Yes — our future generations of workers are going to be in real trouble unless people wake up — SOON — and change the way Republicans are planning for their futures.

  2. Bonnie Owens says:

    Really interesting that a generation or two ago, Americans working full-time had a “forced” retirement plan – the defined benefit pension. And when they retired, they were assured of living out the rest of their lives in more financial security & dignity than they have now. Look what defined contribution plans have done – a generation is soon to be in dire straits, while mega-companies get richer. The only seniors who will retire with security & dignity are public-sector employees and members of unions. Ask any CEO in America for the truth about whether he cares about any of his employees & he will say “of course not, that doesn’t help me to get richer.” Also interesting: members of Congress will get a rich defined benefit pension, while at the same time cheering the businesses who, from their policies, place their employees in old-age peril.

  3. Michael MacPherson says:

    I am 62 years old and on Social Security Disability, I went to Boston University and majored in Computer Science and to the New Hampshire Technical Institute for Computer Network Engineering, so I could have a great career and make good money to live on, instead of making between $50,000 – $60,000 per year, I get 19,000 per year. I struggle every day to pay bills, have heat in the cold Maine winter and have some food.
    I was working at L. L. Bean in Freeport, Maine, when I had an accident at work. Because the corporations paid off Politicians so they could have a get out of responsibility free card, I was given one year to get well and go back to work full time or get fired. I have permanent damage, 2 damaged disks in my neck and 1 in my back with disk degenerative decease and could not return to work.
    Billions of dollars in taxpayer money are going to Defense Contractors, Oil Companies, Gas Companies, Coal Companies, Corporate Welfare and tax breaks for the rich, how is this not blatant theft of our tax money, the tax payers are being used as piggy banks for government officials to give to those who got them elected. I believe there is indisputable evidence the government is corrupt beyond repair, Wall Street is running this country.
    I am on Maine Care and Medicare. The Congress and Senate have the best medical care from taxpayers money, in the world, so the chances are very slim for any help form them. If we are to get Freedom back and get the Constitution and Bill of Rights working again, we have to stop the culture of crime that is how the Government currently works.
    The poor and disabled are deliberately being sold out, we no longer pay taxes and cannot give to reelections, so we are only allowed enough money to have a shot at staying alive. If people on Social Security get more then $1400.00 per month they cannot get help with heat, electricity, good health care and enough in food stamps to last a week. I just got a tweet saying some Military contractor said the Military just spent Billions of dollars on nothing. The Politicians who decide how much we get paid by S.S. are out of touch with reality and give us a check for what would be a good amount of money to live on in the 1950’s or 1960’s.
    The problem is, about 80% of Congress is bought and paid for by Wall Street, the fuel Industry, NRA and Banks. These members of Congress no longer work for the American people and have helped to turn this country into a Plutocracy and no longer a democracy.
    What they are doing is holding the country hostage, by holding out without passing a budget, which would keep the country working. These mostly Republican congress members, hold out on passing a workable budget, to force the president to give them what they want and what they want is to privatize Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, because Wall Street wants the American people broken, with most at the poverty level, people who cannot afford to lose their jobs are more flexible and compliant and easier to control. Wall Street wants to make money off of Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare by privatizing it so they can charge service fees.

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