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Old 06-04-2015, 10:27 AM   #21
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Yep, My 80 year old mother receives around $700 of SS per month, I give another $600. Her condo and car are paid off. I pay for any big purchases, maybe another $1k a year. She actually lives a nice life and continues to play tennis, bridge, go to movies, etc.
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Old 06-04-2015, 10:33 AM   #22
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Here's the thing I notice about a lot of these retirement articles: they don't tell the whole story. Most of them cite the average 401(k) or 403(b) balances for the groups they're reporting on, and many don't include IRAs in their consideration. Further, they don't look into taxable investment accounts, and few of them consider rental properties and other alternative investments.

If you looked at my and DW's 403(b) retirement accounts, you'd say we have less than $300K saved for retirement, but that's underselling what we consider our retirement assets by more than 50%, and doesn't begin to consider my pension.

I'm sure that the overall health of American retirement is generally poor, but I wish some of these articles would think to look beyond 401(k)s and tell the whole story.
Count me as another who wouldn't look good on the averages paper... I have a 403b, 457, Roth IRA, SEP Ira, Traditional IRA, Rollover IRA, and After tax account in brokerage, plus checking and 3 savings accounts at different institutions. DW has the after tax, Roth, Traditional, and Rollover. The largest balance in any single account represents about 15% of our investable assets...
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Old 06-04-2015, 10:52 AM   #23
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So I'm expecting to have to find a whole new group of people to associate with. That's the part about these numbers that I find disturbing.
After 4 years (early) retired, I am finding ^ to be one of the biggest challenges. Not that I didn't know in advance, but I'm faced with hanging out with folks way older than me (not a fan) weekdays or not at all. I am sure a few are out there, but I haven't found another retiree even close to my age yet...
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Old 06-04-2015, 11:00 AM   #24
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So I guess the point is that while some very low income retirees of today and tomorrow didn't raise children with much better financial outcomes, those that did have somewhat of a safety net.
The house we're buying (provided, please, God, the buyer of our current house gets financing) is lakefront and the downstairs, which also looks out onto the lake, has 2 bedrooms, a bath and a full kitchen. The previous owner said his in-laws lived there for 13 years. I'd say their in-laws did very well.
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Old 06-06-2015, 06:04 PM   #25
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Some folks don't like the options available in their 401k and choose to invest in taxable accounts. While I wouldn't do that, I know quite a few folks in the military who don't put money in their TSP (foolishly, IMO) because they're convinced the funds aren't as good as what they can buy through E-Trade, tax benefits be damned.

So maybe good data in this particular article, but again, not telling the whole story.
More than half of the comments I get on my TSP posts say something like "Well, yeah, my sergeant pushes the TSP awfully hard, but I don't want to lock up MY money for over 30 years. I'm getting out next year, and I can't even take my TSP account with me when I leave the military!"

So I exhale a mental sigh and start with the explanations on how to tap the TSP through transfers, rollovers, and conversions. And somewhere in there I have to explain why they can't buy gold or real estate in their TSP (like their brother-in-law is doing with his 401(k)) but yet it's still a better value than whatever investments their (civilian) friends are talking about at parties.

It's been a while since I've seen a recent study, but only about 47% of the military's servicemembers (including Guard & Reserve) have TSP accounts.

Over 80% of the federal civil service has a TSP account, thanks to mandatory enrollment and matching. But over half of those accounts have a pitifully small balance made up of only the minimum mandatory-enrollment contribution. And you know it's in the "G" fund...
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Old 06-06-2015, 06:30 PM   #26
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The 'retirement porn' articles like this are just going to get more prevalent in the future.
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Old 06-06-2015, 08:28 PM   #27
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I remember what my statistics teacher once said:

"Statistics never lie! Statisticians DO!

Dw and I could easily be one of those with low savings, but we have pensions double our annual expenses.

As pointed out, 30% of households have an income under $30,000. How much would you expect them to have in savings?

What was the make up of the survey? i.e. were undocumented individuals included?

How many of those surveyed were going to inherit money? A small amount, but our children will most likely get money from both sets of parents. Not a lot, but enough to make a difference.

How many have money sunk in houses they plan on selling and using for retirement? Several folks that worked for me in CA. were in that situation.

Already mentioned, people that have money in programs not covered by survey.

The Census Bureau reports that 14.5% of the population lives below the poverty level. Baring a lottery winning they will most likely never have any savings, but may be able to live on their SS.

All in all, as others have said, it sells newspapers, or in this case TV commercials.
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Old 06-06-2015, 09:48 PM   #28
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Numbers is fair game...

The after tax income for the average (median) household in the US is approximately $51,000 of which about $5500 goes to Savings (Pensions, Insurance, Investments etc.)

Most of the rest of the income is spent on what we would call "cost of living".

If 6 years of the "savings" of that average family $33,000. were to have been invested in the DJIA in 2009, the total "savings" today would be $89,000.
.................................................. .......................
If the after tax income had been $61,000... and the cost of living was the same, and the balance of the difference between income and expense ($93,000) were to have been invested in the DJIA in 2009, the total "savings" today would be $251,000.
.................................................. .......................
Examples are meaningless, except to point out that a higher disposable income would allow a higher level of savings, all things being equal. The point that gets lost is that the compounding of amounts being invested makes for a disproportionate difference in the ending total... Simply a verification of the fact that it takes money to make money.

Then there's the argument for a flat tax versus graduated taxes...
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Old 06-07-2015, 08:56 AM   #29
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I have never put much credence to all the articles claiming most folks have little to no retirement savings; seems more like wall street hyperbole to me.
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Old 06-07-2015, 10:53 AM   #30
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Don't worry, if it turns out our retirement cohorts don't have enough money, we can pool all of the retiree resources and divvy them out fairly.
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Old 06-07-2015, 12:15 PM   #31
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Not sure why people on here are mad at CNBC for reporting on the "retirement crisis".

We already know that the avg. American household is not saving enough for retirement due to several obvious reasons. Globalization and outsourcing,Decline in union membership,aging broke parents,millennials still at home,flat wages for 30 years,The new hipster economy "Giganomics"(jumping from low wage job to different low wage job),College student loan debt crisis,A house is no longer a sure thing as an investment,etc.

There is a obvious reason why CNBC is not reporting the numbers to show why most Americans will have enough money saved to retire.

Because the good numbers do not exist. So don't kill the messenger.
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Old 06-07-2015, 12:27 PM   #32
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Good analysis Purplesky, I do not believe that the retirement savings only look low because people have pensions and $ in non retirement accounts .The sad fact is that most people at all ages are not prepared for retirement .40 years ago most people had good defined benefit pensions .Today the good pensions are gone, and that will hurt people.I feel blessed because I have a good pension.I hope these other folks can find a solution to their situation.
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Old 06-07-2015, 12:50 PM   #33
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After 4 years (early) retired, I am finding ^ to be one of the biggest challenges. Not that I didn't know in advance, but I'm faced with hanging out with folks way older than me (not a fan) weekdays or not at all. I am sure a few are out there, but I haven't found another retiree even close to my age yet...
Have you tried Meetup.com? You put in your zip code and all kind of groups, interests, activities pop up that you can attend. I've planned my entire calendar a month in advance at times based on all the interesting things I can get involved with that I found on Meetup.

Hanging out with friends even my own age is challenging as many wistfully wish they were 25 again or are in "aches and pains/slow down/gripe" mode, none of which apply to me. I find myself generally spending time with younger people as a result.
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Old 06-07-2015, 12:53 PM   #34
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I can think of many reasons why these numbers are not a surprise. None of the articles ever tell the whole story. There are other means of providing for retirement income beyond "retirement savings". What if you are fully invested in rental properties? Or are a farmer and plan to sell off the equipment and lease out the acreage after you can no longer actively farm. Or if you have a business that can be sold when the time comes. Or people who are living in huge property value areas who plan to sell their homes and move to a lower COL area? And who ever said that someone living at poverty level expect to have a higher lifestyle when they retire? Many ethnicities still care for their elderly within the family-unit. Alternative to "retirement savings" are many. I do acknowledge that there are some that are not prepared at all. To put numbers on it is difficult.


I seldom seek out articles of this nature. The financial writers have been talking about the traditional 3 legged stool for retirement for at least 3+ decades that I know of. I have read them years ago. I think these articles are more to awaken those in their 20's and early 30's rather than those of us in and near their retirement stage. The younger generations do have to be awakened. However, my feeling is that few of them are reading these articles, at least not the ones that should be.
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29% of people age 55-No retirement savings.
Old 06-07-2015, 01:11 PM   #35
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29% of people age 55-No retirement savings.

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Good analysis Purplesky, I do not believe that the retirement savings only look low because people have pensions and $ in non retirement accounts .The sad fact is that most people at all ages are not prepared for retirement .40 years ago most people had good defined benefit pensions .Today the good pensions are gone, and that will hurt people.I feel blessed because I have a good pension.I hope these other folks can find a solution to their situation.

This is only my opinion, but I think not only are you correct, but its probably even worse. People usually hang around with people of like caliber. Most people here are uniquely intelligent and self disciplined and thus are able to protest the numbers with other unique examples of people who have 10 different retirement accounts with 50k in each one.
I don't think many people here realize how truly dumb people are in regards to money (or other things, too) because they do not interact enough with people of that ilk. I will double down on the opposite side of that CNBC survey and suggest that a great many people who stated they are prepared for retirement really aren't and are too dumb or lazy to know it until their last dollar is drained from their too early retirement.


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Old 06-07-2015, 01:24 PM   #36
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The house we're buying (provided, please, God, the buyer of our current house gets financing) is lakefront and the downstairs, which also looks out onto the lake, has 2 bedrooms, a bath and a full kitchen. The previous owner said his in-laws lived there for 13 years. I'd say their in-laws did very well.
Until the flood came.
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Old 06-07-2015, 05:11 PM   #37
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It's been a while since I've seen a recent study, but only about 47% of the military's servicemembers (including Guard & Reserve) have TSP accounts.
For my part, I've told people since I was an Ensign that if they weren't using TSP, they were throwing money away. I get a lot of eyerolls, etc. I even had one guy who told me he wanted to get into index investing and that he couldn't do that in the TSP. I thought, good lord man, do you know how to read?
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Old 06-07-2015, 07:29 PM   #38
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For my part, I've told people since I was an Ensign that if they weren't using TSP, they were throwing money away. I get a lot of eyerolls, etc. I even had one guy who told me he wanted to get into index investing and that he couldn't do that in the TSP. I thought, good lord man, do you know how to read?
Well, you could have a little sympathy. I recall being told that the TSP was not transferable if you separated, so I wisely figured I shouldn't touch it with a nine foot pole. I figured that TSP invested money would be completely lost, sorta like unspent money in a Flexible Spending Account. I remember plenty of briefings (I feel like it was nearly all) that were chalk full of misinformation. Sounds like the TSP briefing was also extremely misleading for a good half of service members.
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Old 06-07-2015, 11:59 PM   #39
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Not my experience at all. I've never had misgivings about TSP, and if I could figure it out at 22, most probably could if they learned for themselves. That said, I do my best to give good information and encourage young men and women to use it.
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