How can we help people save more?
Source: Economic Policy Institute
Baby-boomers are the wealthiest generation in history. But they are one of the most unprepared generations ever when it comes to retirement. The median family now has about $100,000 saved up. And half of all families have no retirement savings. At a time when fixed pensions are going the way of the Edsel and People’s Express Airlines,
It’s not that people don’t want to save. It’s just that after loan payments and car payments and rent and utilities and food, there just isn’t anything left. Kids are coming back from college and living at home, or they may have expenses caring for an elderly parent. Baby boomers are paying for their salad days in the ‘60s and ‘70s by becoming a sandwich generation—caught between competing demands.
One of the best ways to save is to set the money aside. Companies with 401(k) plans – or 403(b) –take the money out of your paycheck. But even if your employer doesn’t offer these, you can still have money automatically transferred from your checking account to somewhere else—a broker or mutual fund company or IRA. If you don’t have it readily available, it’s harder to spend it. And investing the money allows it to grow.
And there are other ways to save money. Health savings accounts are intended for medical purposes—and health care expenses are increasingly important in retirement. Funds in these accounts can grow tax-free, and can be withdrawn tax-free for a wide variety of health-related purposes. Also, spouses inherit the tax benefits of an HSA.
Also, it’s important to maximize your Social Security benefits. Delaying retirement – even for just a few years – can increase your lifetime benefits significantly. And there are other things you can do to increase your payments.
Just don’t forget about it! Aging is something that happens to everyone. We all need to plan—even if we don’t like to think about it. The worst plan is the one that never gets made.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer