Thursday, May 7, 2009

Repent boomers

David Ignatius warns about boomers' lack of retirement savings. The really bad news is that most of his figures come from the years BEFORE the housing and financial collapse.
For a closer look at the retirement squeeze, consider a study released last month by the Congressional Research Service. Patrick Purcell analyzed the most recent data on consumer finances gathered by the Federal Reserve. He found that for the 53 percent of households that hold at least one retirement account, the median combined balance was a mere $45,000.

Hold on, you say, that figure includes some younger workers who haven't started saving in earnest yet. Okay, for households headed by persons between the ages of 55 and 64, the median value of all retirement accounts was just $100,000. Purcell noted that for a 65-year-old man retiring last month, that $100,000 would buy an annuity that would pay a paltry $700 a month for life, based on current interest rates.
One suggestion if you are having trouble saving is to adopt Richard Thaler's "Save More Tomorrow" plan. Under the plan, you commit a percentage of future raises to go directly into retirement savings. Basically, you get most of the consumption benefits of a raise, but you also start putting aside savings. It's a relatively painless way to substantially increase your savings rate over time.