Americans are spenders, not savers


Retirement is an “elusive dream” for too many Americans, according to senior citizens advocate Dan Weber. “The younger they are the more likely they will be to put off planning for retirement until it’s too late. They are what some call the ‘invincible’ generation.”

But Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC), noted that saving for retirement is not a priority even for older folks. “The average 50 year old has less than $50,000 in savings, hardly enough for a retirement that can last as much as 18 years or more.”

A new survey out this week revealed that more than a third of Americans have less than $1,000 put away for a rainy day. “It’s a startling revelation, but Americans, even in good times, have been historically lax in saving for the future, at least for three decades. Thirty-odd years ago we were saving at rates of 10, 11 and 12 percent of our incomes. Today we’re setting aside a little more than four percent, on average, for emergencies and retirement,” Weber added. “It’s not enough but it’s also not surprising with job creation at unacceptably low levels and unemployment and underemployment rates that have remained consistently high ever since President Obama took office.”

Weber said he believes that there are other reasons people aren’t saving enough money in the U.S. They range from personal spending choices to a lack of government incentives for low and middle class workers.

For example, he said, a recent report by the Consumer Federation of America notes that only one-third of the U.S. population lives within its means and feels comfortable about the future, one-third are just able to live within their means and another third are struggling. Meanwhile, an analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts showed “low income Americans receive less than one percent of so-called federal tax benefits compared with high income earners who receive as much as 70 percent of tax code benefits.”

“The French and the Irish save as much as 16 percent and 19 percent of their incomes, on average, compared to Americans who save less than 4.5 percent of their earnings. It’s one area where the U.S. falls dangerously short of the mark as a trend-setter.”

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