The retirement gamble: 30 percent of American adults have no retirement savings. Half of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

Retirement angst is a big deal.  It probably feels like a bigger deal since older baby boomers are now entering into retirement age in wildebeest like droves.  A time that was supposed to be spent sipping ice cold margaritas on the warm beaches of the world is now filled with working retail jobs or trying to pay the rising bills brought on by inflation.  Many have now realized that the new retirement scenario means working until you die and are put deep into the ground.  Many Americans do not have any sort of retirement savings.  This actually makes sense given that half of the country lives paycheck to paycheck.  Once the monthly expenses are accounted for, there is little left over to save for retirement.  Millions of Americans are realizing that retirement is now one giant gamble.

Retirement roulette

We’ve talked about it before but pensions forcibly made people save into retirement.  Regardless of your views on pensions, many more people were adequately prepared for retirement than they are today in the 401k world.  Why is that?  First, people were made to chip in early in their career and money builds over time.  Pensions of course are now largely extinct because many were too optimistic.  Yet the model has a good premise.  Force people to save on the front-end and with lower fees.  The 401k model has unfortunately done the opposite.

That is why today, 30 percent of adult Americans have no retirement savings at all:


That is so incredibly problematic.  For millions of older Americans saving for retirement is simply not an option on the table since they are basically in the retirement age range.  At this point, many need to work or survive off of Social Security.

The numbers on Social Security are startling.  More than 60 percent of elderly adults rely on Social Security as their primary source of income.  If it weren’t for Social Security they would be out on the streets:


It isn’t a surprise that older people are drawing Social Security but the fact that so much of their income is coming from this one source.  Social Security was intended to supplement pensions, 401ks, and regular savings.  It was not meant to become the de facto pension system for all older Americans but that is what it has become.

Many Americans are taking a giant retirement gamble.  And the lessons are clear for younger people.  But what do you tell many when they live in a low wage “gig” economy and many are carrying a piece of the $1.4 trillion in student debt outstanding?  Not only do they have no money for retirement savings but many are in negative wealth territory with student debt.

Keep in mind we are in debt as a nation to the tune of nearly $20 trillion.  The tone is set at the top.  That amount will never get paid back.  And the growing expenses on Medicare and Social Security are going to be hard to sustain since we have a younger working demographic that isn’t paid so well.  And this is the group that is going to support the massive wave of baby boomers retiring?

What seems to be happening is that people are simply gambling on their retirement.  They will deal with it when it comes.  Not planning at all is planning to fail.  If you are in a position to prepare for retirement, do so today.  But for other Americans it is too late and in many gambles, there are winners and losers.

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7 Comments on this post


  1. Winston said:

    And the TRAITORS in Washington are giving away YOUR SAFETY NET —
    Send the CONCERNED ONES with THEIR OWN money to pay for the charity they are SO anxious to hand out because “being charitable” with someone else’s money is THEFT, charity must be paid for with YOUR money.
    What do you think they are going to LIVE ON?

    YOUR Social Security is being given to the REFUJIHADIS.

    October 2nd, 2016 at 5:34 am
  2. laura ann said:

    We started our 401k back in 1984, gov job, husband also has military pension for 20 yrs in. Anyone can set up an IRA or have company match the 401k and any one that doesn’t do this is really stupid and the over 65 stupid ones I know some are still working in their 70’s, their IRA was never built up. These people must have spent money foolishly thru their lives and had kids they couldn’t afford. We both worked and are childfree by choice.

    October 2nd, 2016 at 5:42 am
  3. Bonnie said:

    You make it sound like people are simply being silly, and that they have the money to save but are simply refusing to do so… this shows your lack of understanding when it comes to what it means to be poor.

    Poor people do not choose to be poor – when your income level drops below the amount needed to pay your bills, and you have two jobs which are not covering your needs, how can you possibly save for retirement? What you don’t seem to understand is that for many Americans, retirement is out of the question. Social security will run out before long, pensions are being raided, and many seniors are having to take on part-time jobs just to put food on their tables, yet you seem to feel that the lack of retirement funds rests simply on the fact that people are not saving.

    Salaries are steady or falling while the price of good and service continues to skyrocket. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the economy cannot continue as it is and allow people to save money for the future. For many Americans, there is no financial future. That has already been gambled away for us by the Powers That Be.

    October 2nd, 2016 at 6:53 am
  4. TimeTraveler said:

    I am one of those who rely totally on social security. I could have kept working, but connected the dots on what is coming down the road years ago, which is a complete implosion of the western banking system, and a total devaluation of all fiat currencies down to their intrinsic value, which is zero! So I decided to enjoy the few precious moments we have left on this sacred planet!!!!!

    Soon hyperinflation then hyper deflation will transpire, for the printing presses will be put into overdrive to save this dead corpse, to no avail, too much sovereign debt, and the banks are exposed to $1.5 quadrillion worth of toxic derivatives! They used this system as their own private gambling casino for the .1% to get richer as they destroy the rest of humanity!

    Then hyper deflation comes in for a total collapse of all debt bubbles. It will happen quite fast, with no time to prepare if you haven’t done so already.

    I have no debt, and have a payed off 10 year old Mercedes which I keep in great mechanical condition, and keep my overhead low. I live very simply, but comfortably. I have prepped for the last 7 years, and I have aquired a decent amount of silver to get me thru and barter with.

    I read a lot, and connected the dots long ago. There will be no way to escape what is about to occur, in which if you have paper money in 401k’s, pensions, savings accounts, or the stock market you will lose everything or close to it.

    If need be, if things get to bad in the US I will go to Ecuador where I lived for a short time till the dust settles here, if it ever does.

    Once this economy blows, you will have mass chaos. No food, water electricity. Most will die within the first 2 months from disease and plagues, but the real threat will be the 120 or so nuclear facilities that will not be maintained, and will eventually melt down after the delivery chain ends for fuel to keep these reactors cool.The whole planet will be enveloped eventually by enough radioactive isotopes to kill off every sentient being on the planet. I am not even taking into acoount WWIII if happens in the MIddle East, which as it looks now will happen.

    Our politicians are suicidal! The US has pushed Russia into a corner with no way out but war.

    Not a great scenario is it? The psychoopaths that run our country will take us to war, which would be a total mistake, just to take the sheeple’s minds away from a failing economy. This will be a fatal mistake! Russia is tactically superior to us in every way, and now they are joined at the hip by China, who holds all our debt. Both these superpowers also have most of the gold in the world, which the US has none. A new gold backed trading system is just about ready to be implemented, and the US is toast.

    The petrol dollar is on its death bed, and the dollar being used as the reserve currency of the world is finished. The United States of fascism cannot be resuscitated. The end game is here, now. The collapse is here, not down the road months from now or years from now.

    Get prepared with food, water, shelter, guns, and ammo, or leave the country if you can. But most of all be prepared spiritually, for if you do not ask for God’s forgiveness and repent,you will not survive what is about to occur here, and really the whole planet!

    God bless!

    October 2nd, 2016 at 7:18 am
  5. Don't get fooled again said:

    It’s amazing how few people save for retirement. I have a sister that is 53 and isn’t sure where her next meal is coming from, yet she insists on driving a $400/month leased car and borrows money from my mom. She can’t get a job because she is middle aged (I have another friend stuck in the same rut and he has great experience).

    As for being short of Social Security and Medicare, lift the cap on FICA to $200K or higher. Is this that hard to do? Otherwise, when we start hitting reduced benefits, you will have a bunch of seniors eating cat food and clogging up hospital emergency rooms, which means we all pay for it anyway.

    October 3rd, 2016 at 10:51 am
  6. Ron said:

    Many were wiped out by the 07-08 debacle. Just look around at how many people are head over heals in debt(the American way?)
    Most people drive vehicles and live in homes owned by the bank.
    Very few live free and clear.

    October 5th, 2016 at 9:38 am
  7. High School drop out said:

    Too many people that don’t save think they can not. When I hear people say as much I immediately begin to evaluate them silently. In minutes or less I take note of their cell phones, jewelry, clothing brands, auto, etc. and am able to realize that most all are not trying or do not know how to save. Until about 10 years ago we did not have cell phones, and now we think we and our children can not live without. They wear more expensive brands and drive less efficient or more expensive vehicles. In short they live above their means. I am a high school drop out that started a 401k in 1991 at age 31. I now have nearly $1 million. And can not lose it since it is in a Guaranteed Interest account earning 3% with no fees. A 401k is not a bad savings vehicle and YOU have control over it. People that say otherwise most probably do not or have not participated in a 401k plan. Also their is a formula for calculating how much SS you will get. It is based on your top 35 earning years, your contribution dollars and your retirement age. I have found that many workers and self employed are shocked to find out that they get so little after they didn’t pay or paid too little SS during their working years. There are many ways to save, but decisions must be made by the individual on what and when and also how they want to retire, or not!

    February 17th, 2017 at 11:27 am


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