Hey, kids, come gather ‘round. I have a story to share.
It takes place a long, long time ago, in a powerful, hopeful nation once revered as one of the few places in the world where most anyone ready to put in an honest day’s work could make their dreams come true. There, even if you didn’t attend a college with ivy-covered walls, you could still get a decent-paying job and afford a nice place in the suburbs and, here’s the best part, even get a pension plan that would help take care of you in your old age.
Then, for one reason or another, things began to change and everyone was told there was something even better than an employer-funded pension: the 401(k), a plan that would give anyone who truly cherished their God-given freedom what they really wanted – control over their stock and bond investments and, ultimately, their fates.
Sadly, as we all know too well, that turned out to be a fantasy, too, a slight-of-hand that revealed itself whenever downturns hit and most recently when the economy took its 2008 swan dive.
Aren’t we all sick and tired of this garbage by now? How stupid were we to believe in these golden year fairy tales in the first place?
See also: Top 5 retirement issues
I’ve been a business editor for quite a few years now, but only recently began to focus on the retirement crisis. Here’s the thing that’s struck me most:
That whole health insurance crisis we’ve been trying to fix? That’s nothing compared to what we’re all about to face.
Worse, none of the latest auto-enroll, auto-escalation or other alleged 401(k) repairs are getting us to where we need to go.
How many more studies do we need telling us how grave matters have become?
One of the latest, “The Retirement Savings Crisis: Is it Worse than We Think?” from the National Institute of Retirement Security, found that four out of five working families have saved less than 1 percent of their income for retirement.
Among the report’s key findings:
The median retirement account balance for all working-age households is a jaw-dropping $3,000.