Why its so hard for Americans to save for retirement 

Did you know the original purpose of the 401(k) plan was to supplement retirement income? And that originally such plans we’re supposed to be simple.

Today if a worker doesn’t have a plan at  work, most don’t save for retirement and even with a work-based plan it takes auto enrollment to get many to sign up. Despite several types of savings vehicles, it’s generally assumed there is a lack of retirement saving tools and thus people don’t save.

Not true. People don’t save because they can’t see the future and they set their standard of living for necessities and non-necessity spending before saving 🤑🤑🤑 and that’s the truth for the vast majority of Americans. 

Source: Why its so hard for Americans to save for retirement | Duluth News Tribune

And yet when motivated saving is quite possible.



  1. Why is hard for Americans to save? I just read a bank ad in the newspaper this morning. “PUT YOUR DREAMS FIRST”. Take out that second mortgage with us.

    Let’s see, feel good instant satisfaction or a retirement that is still many years or decades off? One pays off now, do not know about the other.


  2. I think another issue is that people do not understand the power of compounding. Even when you believe, sometimes it hard to keep your faith. It seem like the first 20 years, I barely saw my money grow. $10k even with 8% grow which I rarely saw only gained $800 per year. Then as my 401K reached 6 figures, the market swings caused several thousand dollars swings daily causing heartburn. Now after 30 years, it may swing $10k over a course of a month and I am still a believer in compounding. I kept my cool and get to retire early.

    When young people are told that they need $1 to $2 million to retire and only see $800 in growth, they give up before they even start. With less than 1% in passbook savings for the last decade, kids rather live for today. For my whole life I have been told social security is going broke, don’t count on it. I figured I would have to work until I die. But I got lucky with a pension and saved enough in my 401K that I’ll make more money not working.

    I don’t know how my son will get to retire. My hope is that when I die that there will be enough money for the grandchildren for seed money toward their retirement in their early working years.


    1. There is a big difference between simply saving as in an emergency fund and investing for retirement. You cannot truly save for retirement without the growth in stocks and some bonds. I retired seven years ago. My 401k is now higher by 34% than it was in 2010 AFTER taking three minimum distributions. If I hadn’t been forced to take those it would be 50% higher and that’s with 50% of the account invested in fixed income funds.


  3. With less than 1% interest being paid on passbook savings accounts, most do not see even short term saving for a major purchase as a worthwhile activity, let alone saving for retirement 40 years away. The average worker making less than $30,000 per year, with the cost of living in 2017, not very much if anything is left to save. I have never been a long term saver, short term I have saved to pay cash for a car. I have never had more than $25,000 per year income, at 62 next Jan, with a military pension and SS I will have $34,000 per year. I will now be able to invest a few thousand per year, have zero debt and pay cash for everything.


    1. With a retirement income 136% of your working income and that retirement income with COLAs, you are doing better than just about every retiree in the US.


  4. All wrong. 401k added to tax code in 1978 to CURTAIL deferring compensation/savings by highly compensated. Joint tax committee scored as having a negligible effect in federal budget.

    People don’t save, or don’t save enough, because they are mired in debt and/or live payday to payday.

    The bad habit isn’t that they can’t look into the future, it is that they can’t look past their nose today!


    1. The original purpose in the context of its use being promoted to employers according to Ted Benna. Being mired in debt and living paycheck to paycheck is exactly what I said in different words.


Leave a Reply to Benefitjack Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s