The American Consumer’s Doomed Retirement, Again

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Americans do not have enough for retirement. They do not save enough money for retirement. Their houses, a primary source of retirement funds, have lost value. Real wages barely have risen in the past decade, which makes saving hard. Yet, Americans keep retiring.

There is hardly a single bit of evidence that most Americans can retire, which means many will need to work into their seventies and perhaps their eighties. This may cut into the available jobs for younger people who need money for their own savings. The problem will cascade from one generation into the next.

Lost among the news of more trouble in Europe, budget cuts in the United States and a falling stock market was more news about the plight of the American savers who cannot save, and may not even have money in an emergency. According to Bankrate:

Only 55% of Americans have more emergency savings than credit card debt, according to research published today by Bankrate.com (NYSE: RATE). Last year, Bankrate found that 54% of Americans had more emergency savings than credit card debt; the figure was 52% in 2011.

What more proof is needed that Americans are living on a financial razor’s edge?

Yet, millions of Americans are retiring, perhaps not as flush as they might like, and perhaps with a heavy reliance on Social Security. It is hard to imagine all these people have decided to walk into their Golden Years without a cent of savings in their pockets.

There is some dislocation between much of the research of American personal finance and the ability of many Americans to retire. Emergency savings are not the same as retirement funds, but they are cousins, both parts of the repository of money that people use for any and all circumstances in which they need somethings beyond their salaries.

Somewhere, something is wrong with the research. Americans have funds that may not be easily measured. Perhaps they have it in their mattresses.

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