Saving for Retirement?
Saving for Retirement?
Recently I was reading USA Today (yes, there are people who still read a physical newspaper from time to time…though admittedly I only do so while traveling…free hotel copy) and I saw a short article entitled “Americans are tapping retirement savings early.” Two statistics stood out in the article: 1) 17% of Americans aged 50-64 dipped into their retirement savings for an emergency, and 2) 9% of Americans (21 million) are not preparing for retirement at all.
(Yawn) So What?
Ignoring for a moment the whole idea of “retirement”, both those numbers above trouble me. The second number is disturbing simply because it displays a basic inability to plan for a future…one that is pretty much going to happen- they will get older and likely will not want or be able to maintain the same level of productivity as they do now. While no one knows for sure what they will be doing 10, 20, 30 years from now, a safe assumption to make is that at some point they will need money and they will be unable to physically work for it. What then? Do these people assume someone will take care of their needs? Maybe it will be their kids or their fellow citizens (who have saved…they hope)? Or perhaps they haven’t thought about it at all and assume Social Security will take care of them. My goal is to not be a burden to anyone and to not rely on anyone else to sustain me. Though Christian love teaches we need to be prepared to “bear each others’ burdens” (and I believe that includes financial hardships as well), I want to be the one in position to bear a burden for someone else.
You’ve had a lifetime
The first statistic implies that those who withdrew from their retirement accounts had at least saved something to get there. BUT, they didn’t save enough…OR they had thrown all their money into an account they couldn’t access, aka a retirement account. For those of you who are saving (not part of the 9% above), please put at least some money into an account you can access without penalty. A good rule of thumb is to have 3-6 months worth of expenses set aside for emergencies. I would encourage you to deliberately save this first before saving for a future 30 years away.
Do you have a plan?
Ok, I’ve said my piece. What do you think? Are you saving anything, anywhere? Do you have a cash fund for emergencies? What about a retirement account, do you have one of those? Do you have anything saved should you need money between now and age 59 1/2?