…and I thought the term “middle class” referred to a certain level of overall financial health.
It turns out that “middle class” just means your lifestyle, as a USA Today story yesterday showed that a third of the middle-class people in the United States have $20,000 in retirement savings.
That means that a third of middle-class people are spending their money on today rather than saving for the future.
This poll raises three questions in my mind:
1) If “now” is going poorly enough that you can’t save, what are you going to do later when you can’t work?
2) While I’m all for personal accountability, isn’t this another reason employers should make retirement savings opt in vs. opt out, like it is for some current retirement plans?
3) What’s the right day to start saving, if it isn’t today?
The greatest question of these three, for me, is the opt in vs. opt out. I think that left to our own devices, humans are fairly lazy (I have 46 years of experience being human and I can tell you, there’s nothing better than doing nothing….). Changing retirement plans so that we actually have to endure cumbersome forms to NOT save into a retirement plan would be a great way for me to do the right thing. If we aren’t going to guarantee a pension anymore, don’t you think this is the one action companies can take that costs them zero and helps their employees a ton?
…and before you think I’m saying that I think it’s the company’s job to secure your retirement, that’s not my point at all. I’m saying that there’s an overwhelming amount of evidence showing the current way isn’t working. Left to our own devices, humans will do very little, so let’s make retirement plan rules favor doing little.
On my third question, when do you begin….there clearly isn’t going to be a great day to begin saving. It’s never easy and there’s never going to be “extra” money left over at the end of the month. At some point I realized this with my weight. There wasn’t ever going to be a great day to start getting healthy. I was going to have to take action or the years would keep slipping away. I said I needed to lose some weight at 35, at 36, at 40, at 42…..finally at 46 I took action.
Do I regret not taking action sooner? Not as much as I’m pleased with myself for actually finally looking in the mirror. I can’t take back what’s already happened, but I can start living the life of my choice today.
I think when it comes to saving, now’s that time. $20,000 in retirement won’t last a year. Let’s start moving now!
How is your retirement saving is going? Are there reasons you’re telling yourself now is/isn’t the time to save?
Photo: U.S. Army