And that’s quite scary when you think about it in the larger, public policy arena. On a personal level, I know if I was one of those people I’d be quite nervous. Now, to be honest, I don’t have 3 months worth expenses saved in my bank. I couldn’t just write a check for an unexpected expense. My assets, like so many of us, are tied into investments, most of which are in retirement accounts. But I do have access to those accounts and could take out money if I needed to. For those who are younger than 59 ½, there might be a penalty. But that’s certainly not as bad as losing your home or something equivalent.
These statistics really tell us that way too many people don’t have retirement assets to draw upon. They are the vulnerable ones – those who are one broken-down car or refrigerator away from crisis. They may squeak by and manage to fix that car. But if another event happens, they’re up the proverbial creek. What so many do is live hand to mouth. And by the month or the two-week payday. They also use their credit cards to stay afloat and then continue to carry balances on which they pay exorbitant interest rates. That’s not a smart way to live your life, but again, it beats losing your home.
Chances are most of you who are reading this blog are not part of that 30% with no savings. I’m realistic enough to know that my readership is generally more secure and savvy. But how far away from those poorer folks are you? Are you one broken down car away? One broken down car and a trip to the emergency room? Do you pay off your credit card balances every month or do you pay interest?
When you think about your later years (not necessarily “retirement” since I know many will continue to work), how secure do you feel? Do you think you’ll be in the group of almost two-thirds who live almost exclusively on Social Security? Do you really think you’ll be able to live the kind of lifestyle you want on just Social Security? The average monthly check, by the way, is only about $1500. Can you manage on that? Even the maximum is only about $2700 per month, out of which you pay for Medicare. How does an annual income of $32,000 make you feel?
I’m quite concerned about the future of our aging population, especially with the 78 million baby boomers getting older. I wonder what kinds of incentives we can offer that would encourage more of us to save for our future. We already have tax benefits for storing our income in tax-deferred retirement accounts. What else can we do? And, most important, what can you can do for yourself!