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In our opinion: Most Americans struggling to save something — anything — for their retirement

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  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 12:10 a.m.

    "People may have decided their present expenses are such they can’t afford a savings plan. The question they should ask is whether they can afford the consequences of not having one."

    Well, there's the rub - too many of us don't have anything to save after ongoing expenses are handled. I am retired and I can get by because I have two pensions (!) and social security. In the past pensions were the key to successful retirement. But business has decided it doesn't want them and government is hamstrung in protecting what's left. There is a short term fix - in law bring back pensions!

    American capitalism could save itself if it would be fair to retirees in supporting pensions, that is, defined benefit pensions.

    People cannot be left to die in poverty, so a revolt is coming.

  • carlyt ny, NY
    Aug. 21, 2014 4:59 a.m.

    One of the problems is a lack of education about retirement and retirement planning. Planning for retirement should be a priority for everyone. For those who can afford to save/invest the key is to start saving/investing early in life, be consistent, take advantage of any employer matching plan, max out contributions when possible, eliminate debt, avoid risks with your nest egg and plan for multiple streams of income once retired and make catch up contributions once you reach 50. I use several sites for retirement information including Dividendchannel, Valueforum and the site Retirement And Good Living which offers information on planning and investing as well as other financial topics, health, retirement locations, part time work and also has a great blog of guest posts from around the globe about a variety of retirement issues.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 6:27 a.m.

    People may have decided their present expenses are such they can’t afford a savings plan. The question they should ask is whether they can afford the consequences of not having one.

    QUOTE

    On the face of it this seems Hobson's choice then, although I think the article is berating the elderly for not having been provideNT. Let's see If I can offer a few optimistic thoughts:

    1. Children have by now "left the nest". This should help a lot - although many retirees still kindly, even lovingly, support an unemployed child or two.

    2. Retirees have potentially endless and overwhelming medical expenses, but this is mitigated at present with medicare / medicaid so they only have to make co-payments. While the so-called "affordable care act" seeks to enforce sometimes hefty medical insurance, there is no requiremement for insurance for retired outside of SS. Best advice though is to stay fit OR to use common sense solutions in response to sickness. You cannot afford to be ill.

    3. Start your own business in retirement. GOOD LUCK.

    4. Save now, even if you are already retired.

    5. PRAY!!

  • SEY Sandy, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 7:38 a.m.

    Wait a minute. Isn't it bad for the economy if we stop spending and start saving? Isn't that why interest rates for savings are somewhere around zero??

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 7:41 a.m.

    My first boss out of college is a great guy, works hard, is quite conservative. In the IT sector, he's had far more than his fair share of economic turbulence, as companies fold under competition, get bought out, force people to move as they contract, etc.

    Yet, he's been able to stay on top of things, adjusting to new situations with ease, an impressive work ethic and an easy going demeanor.

    He told me a few weeks ago that even thought he's always put away money in the various 401K accounts he's had at each job, he's nowhere close to having enough money to retire, so he's planning on working as long as he possibly can, well into his 70s, if possible.

    His job really should be an opportunity for a young person out of college... but lack of economic security means he'll be battling back the young up-and-comers, fighting them for limited salary money.

  • ordinaryfolks seattle, WA
    Aug. 21, 2014 7:47 a.m.

    We all make choices, unless of course you are really poor and don't have choices. That was the point of Social Security and Medicare (Medicaid too). Allow some limited choices to the elderly who were too poor to find a way to save for retirement.

    Of course, those on the right would have us believe that being poor is a character flaw. And that this flaw causes folks to waste away their resources. And fail to save for retirement. And to have the audacity to live beyond their working years. These poor folks are the takers who suck the lifeblood out of the rest of us goes this line of thinking. What complete utter drivel.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 8:13 a.m.

    Most people don't save enough for retirement because most American workers make barely enough to live on.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 8:21 a.m.

    What's WRONG with struggling? Did anybody in history say life should have no struggles??

    Saving for retirement IS a struggle. It SHOULD be a personal priority when you are YOUNG (not a government priority to save you when you are old).

    Part of the problem is... many people have been taught that they can live on Social Security when they retire... that's a myth... you can't. People need to be taught that in no uncertain terms.

    I think our politicians like people to think they can live on Social Security, but unless you plan to live in a slum apartment and eat cat food... SS is not enough. And it won't get BETTER for our children, or for future generations... it's going to get worse.

    Social Security will be almost nothing when I qualify to retire. It's even less promising for my kids, and their kids. I'm warning them that they need to plan and save to take care of their own needs before AND after retirement (I know... a 'flaming-right-wing' kinda thing to teach your kids). Many Leftists probably think that's child abuse.

  • Liberal Ted Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 8:28 a.m.

    Is it because they can't or because they won't?

    With the article on paying for an education and wanting to force the university to be liable for the loans the student takes out. Commenters there made statements that they have to pay for their kids education. That isn't the case at all. You can have your child work and save up money. It wasn't that long ago, that young teenagers worked long hours on the farm or in the community while going to school. Most teenagers just need to get off the couch, away from the tv, video games and shut off their phone or stop purchasing things they really don't need.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    Aug. 21, 2014 8:31 a.m.

    At what point are we going to admit that the average person is just not going to save for retirement? All the calls to increase our savings are falling on deaf ears!

    About two thirds of retirees rely on Social Security for 50% or more of their retirement income.

    Most people have enough trouble avoiding predatory payday loans, bogus home appliance warranty programs, and high fee whole life insurance policies, to map out a coherent retirement savings plan.

    I don't know how to accomplish this, but it has to be something like SS, we can't trust low information investors to slick financial operators.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 9:04 a.m.

    Social Security was probably America's Best Idea.

    It just did not go anywhere near far enough. EVERY American should be contributing a hefty portion of their working years' income. There should be no cap on salaries so that the 1% are paying their fair share. It MUST NOT be tied to the stock market as many GOPers desire. (That would only further enrich the Wall Street crowd.)

    Almost everyone below the 1% level struggles and struggles mightily throughout their lives. Shouldn't there be a time when they may stop struggling and begin living?

    2bits, will you return your SS checks to the government so you may struggle as you wish others will?

    Didn't think so . . . .

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 9:26 a.m.

    It's really a shame that in the 1980s, the Reagan era, the attitudes of business and the government changed and defined benefit plans were phased out, replaced by defined contribution plans which, unexplainably, have absurd limits that make it very difficult to save for retirement within those constraints. Corporate profits came first rather than a sense of joint interests of the business and the employees who help make the business function. On top of limits on defined contribution plans, IRAs have caps that make it hard, both in terms of the amount that can be contributed, but also income caps. The system is bizarre and has created a serious problem. This is not a Social Security problem, it is a financial system manipulation. This is where the mess is and where Congress must focus. It is a dire problem that no one really wants to deal with.

  • CLM Draper, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 9:31 a.m.

    If we are lucky enough to have a few dollars to put away after today's prices eat up our wages, what we have for savings options are hardly options at all. Either we put our money in the bank at near zero rates for savings accounts and CDs and lose around 2% annually due to inflation, or even more if the "shadow" statistics are correct. Or we can invest in the Wall Street casino and literally gamble it away. This is especially if you're an ordinary saver who doesn't know how to play the stock market, and even those who do know how are playing with fire as yet another inflated bubble threatens to burst.

    Some people advise buying precious metals as an investment that will hold value. If I had the money, I think I'd put my savings there. Otherwise, I watch with trepidation as my 401k gains some and loses more over the last two decades, to the point where it would have almost been better to have socked those dollars away in my mattress, regardless the taxes levied against them!

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 10:04 a.m.

    @one old man,
    Re: "2bits, will you return your SS checks to the government so you may struggle"...

    Classic liberal mind-set... and the reason I've been conservative since I was a little boy.

    Me and my friends used to collect pop bottles for money to spend at the local drug store. We would divy up the money and before we left the store they spent theirs on candy and ate it. I would buy some candy and put some money in my pocket for a trip to the drug store tomorrow.

    The next day they wanted me to give them my money (because they spent all theirs yesterday).

    Moral to the story... just because I'm frugal and struggle and save today... does NOT mean you can take what I saved (just because you didn't).

    Same with SS. Just because I saved and struggled when I was young to insure I had retirement savings... does NOT Mean I must give it up to you because you didn't.

    So no... I will NOT be giving up my SS checks to you when the time comes. And I won't feel bad about it.

  • Wonder Provo, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 10:27 a.m.

    2 bits -- Why do you assume liberals don't save money for retirement? I have and I encourage my kids to as well. Way to stereotype.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 11:10 a.m.

    @Wonder,

    I know there are some liberals who save for retirement. But there are also those who spend every penny as soon as they get it... and they expect to be able to use what YOU saved when they need it.

    You have to admit that a frugal conservative is more likely to save... than a spend-and-tax, rely on the government Liberal (I know... another stereotype). I know a lot of liberals aren't that way... but some are.

    I have a sister-in-law who spends every cent the day she gets it (even if she has to waste it, and she frequently does waste it on extravagant things). And then when the money runs out... she wants me to give her what I saved.

    When I'm not happy to give her my savings... she says, "I would give YOU money IF I had it".... and she probably would. Maybe that's why she's so quick to spend it (so she doesn't have to worry about that).

    It's easy to say you would give somebody money IF you had it... when you don't have it.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 11:35 a.m.

    @ 2 bits, your assertion that conservatives save and liberals don't is absurd. The more you pontificate on this fiction, the worse it looks.

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 11:50 a.m.

    @one old man

    "Social Security was probably America's Best Idea."
    ------

    Yup. I just love giving around 6% of my income and having my employer do the same, so I can get 1/3 of that back (if even that) when I retire. Great investment! (Not!)

    Social security is a boon for many of today's retirees - meaning they get much more out of it than they put into it. However, that is changing, and today's younger workers will get far less out of it than they put in, if they even get anything at all.

    Social security is a transfer of wealth from one generation to another.

  • Wonder Provo, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 12:02 p.m.

    @Utes Fan -- You are right about the older generation getting more out of it than they put in -- particularly Medicare. It's amusing to read all the Tea Party types pontificate on how the poor mooch off the government and then defend themselves taking Medicare. (I don't begrudge them their Medicare, I just think it's funny.) They say they paid into it so they are just getting back what they put in. Let me tell you, after about your first knee replacement, you're close to having back what you put in. You got lots of health problems, you're definitely a "moocher." We need Medicare (or at least we did before Obamacare when it would have been impossible for the elderly to get health insurance), but this will have to be an issue that is dealt with. It absolutely is the young supporting the (voting) elderly.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 12:15 p.m.

    hope n change

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 12:19 p.m.

    Any wages earned above $110,100 go untaxed for Social Security.

    Again, why do those in the best financial position to pay social security, pay Nothing!
    The ability to bribe those in charge to rig the game for the wealthy...again.
    95% of the tax laws are available to only 1% of the population.

    Selling retirement pensions and pillaging them for immediate profit.... is good for vulture capitalism, not so good for the actual producers.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Aug. 21, 2014 1:13 p.m.

    I am still trying to figure out when retirement became a right? I always thought that retirement was something you worked and saved for. Like a car or a house. If you want to retire, shouldn't you plan for that?

    Would society have any compassion for me if I said that I didn't have enough money to buy a 4000 sq foot house in a really nice neighborhood for my spouse of 5 years?

    If you wouldn't have much compassion for that, why should you have compassion for me when I haven't bothered to save for my own retirement when I have had at least 45 years to save up?

  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 3:22 p.m.

    I am saving for my retirement. I know social security will be bankrupt before I retire. What bothers me is that I have to pay for someone else’s retirement, while saving for my own.
    Current retired persons do not appreciate what a sweet deal they were given. Social security, pensions. For those working now pensions are unheard of except for government workers. Social security is headed to bankruptcy.
    At what point was it decided that people could retire, and rely on working people to give them money? If you can save up enough that you do not have to work, more power to you. Retire at 40 if you can. If you are disabled an unable to work, I would support public assistance. But many people can work into their 80’s and 90’s
    There are those who will go on social security and get payments for 35+ years.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 3:56 p.m.

    VIDAR,
    I agree on 2 things.

    1. Current retired persons do not appreciate what a sweet deal they were given

    2. social security will be bankrupt before I retire

    I disagree people can work into their 90s... I would HATE to work with a team of 90 year old programmers who can only write COBOL (If that)!

    ===========

    My parents are retired. They BOTH have pensions (full income for life). They both have insurance for life through their employer. As well as Medicare.

    When was the last time you saw a company that provided a pension, or insurance for life?

    My parents make more now than they did when they were working... that's a sweet deal.

    Can we sustain that forever?
    Politicians say, "YES".
    Logic, common sense, and economic experts say, "NO"

    So... what do we do if these benefits can't be sustained? Just drive off the cliff?

    We need to FIX it... but politicians won't touch it... it's the 3rd-rail of politics. Because even talking about fixing it gets them UNELECTED. And being re-elected is more important than anything...

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 4:09 p.m.

    Social Security is not bankrupt, it will never be bankrupt. Worst case scenario if we do absolutely nothing is that benefits get reduced by about 20% starting in about 20 years. That's not a desirable outcome, but it is nowhere close to being bankrupt.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 9:20 p.m.

    Well, I don't think it's possible. If the economy crashes, all the trillions that is in savings will be gone. The FDIC only has a few billion, all that money wont be worth the paper it's printed on. I can't afford gold or any thing, so my best thought is food. The thing is inflation doubles in 7 years 4x in 12, till the money won't be worth the paper that it's printed on. It's inevitable.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 11:25 p.m.

    Americans don't have money to save in retirement because their current salaries prohibit them from doing so. What used to be their salaries and pensions are now bonus checks for millionaires and billionaires. The game has become rigged. All because an actor in the 1980s changed American economic policy and let corporate plutocrats run our country.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Aug. 22, 2014 6:06 a.m.

    "I am still trying to figure out when retirement became a right? I always thought that retirement was something you worked and saved for. Like a car or a house. If you want to retire, shouldn't you plan for that?"

    So we should have a bunch of 80-90 year olds slaving away because your president promoted a terrible economic policy which led to Wall Street losing their 401k?

    Wow.

    See, that's why we need to get back to good old America. Back then we believed that after 30 years of dedication you had earned your right to retire and enjoy your last few years if life. Apparently not, thanks to your ilk, we're back in a new Gilded Age. Work till ya drop! While your richie 1 percent doesn't know what to do with their mountains of money! Oh I know, buy off more repub politicians! Bribery is a form of free speech now. The thanks GOP!

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Aug. 22, 2014 8:20 a.m.

    To "The Real Maverick" since when can't people save for retirement? They can afford $200/month for cell phones for them and their kids. They can afford cable TV, internet, air condition, and all sorts of other luxuries. If they can afford non-essential purchases, why can't they afford to save for retirement?

    Who said that 80-90 year olds should be slaving away? Shouldn't you be saving when you are 20 to 60 years old so that if you want to retire you can? If they didn't save, why do they have to work if they have kids that can support them?

    You still have not answered the question. You are distracting from the question at hand: Since when is retirement a right? If retirement is a right, then why don't I have a right to a new car, big house, or other luxuries?

  • Wonder Provo, UT
    Aug. 22, 2014 10:18 a.m.

    @Redshirt -- We as a country, many years ago, decided that we would provide a safety net for the elderly. In that sense it is a right. It is a part of our current social contract. And it's pretty popular, so good luck changing it. I don't think there's much common desire for all of us to pay for you a 4000 square foot house, but there is a pretty universal consensus that we want Social Security and Medicare.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Aug. 22, 2014 10:32 a.m.

    Sad that people blame their lack of preparedness on some politician.

    HVH
    The income that is taxed is capped because the benefit is capped. Do you want to also remove the cap from the benefit, so those gazillionaires are getting $40K/mo checks from SS?

    Roland,
    SS has less money than it should have because BO cut its funding to buy votes – he shaved about a decade’s worth of life off SS.

    Maverick,
    No one had to lose their 401(k). Mine took a hit during the last recession, but it came through with more than both I and my employer put into it, and I am not even an active investor – just a bond fund, a defensive stock fund, and a couple growth stock funds. Over its life it has had about a 10% return, better than what I’ll get from SS. The trouble was when people had ALL their retirement in one investment.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Aug. 22, 2014 2:27 p.m.

    To "Wonder" but SS is not a safety net. It is an entitlement. If SS was to be a safety net then it would only apply to the poor, and would have to have appropriations made each year. That is, unless the Federal Government planned for everybody to fail to save for the future.

    However, that is not the issue. If your plans for retirement are to live off of SS, then who's fault is it that you didn't save? The premise of this article is that American's don't save enough for retirement. Who's responsibility is it for you to save for your retirement?

    If I can't fully retire on SS or else am forced to downsize my lifestyle at retirement, who's fault is that?

    Again, what right is there that says I am guaranteed a retirement? Retirement where I am no longer working a regular job and can just sit and watch TV all day. What right do I have to force you to pay for me to stay at home and do nothing?

  • Utefan60 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 9:50 p.m.

    If you give 100 people $100,000 on January 1st of the year, how many will have any of it left by the end of the same year? Well statistically only 6 of the original 100 will have any left. They can be conservatives, liberals, white, black, gay, straight or any other persuasion. It is human nature to consume. Sadly we need to find a way to help those who have no control over their savings. Social Security will help some of those and it will help the poor who don't have the resources to retire or save.

    Hard choices and not always easy for those trying to literally make it from paycheck to paycheck.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Sept. 5, 2014 8:07 a.m.

    Unless your income is less than most everyone else's, there is no obvious reason why you couldn't save if you set your mind to it. Reason being those others get by on less, therefore you can too.

    How? Don't get the most house you can afford, instead get the least that will accomidate you. Likewise with your car. Are power windows necessary? Dont get that tattoo. Instead of buying lottery tickets, learn to invest. Take advantage of just the match if you have a 401k you have at work. Then put the most you can into a Roth IRA. Don't forget to have an emergency fund.