The U.S. retirement system is struggling. Americans across the U.S. aren’t able to save enough to make it through their golden years. Retirement planning options were created based on the presumption that the American middle class is doing well. Unfortunately, the American middle class is struggling. The U.S. retirement system revolves around incentive packages and tax breaks. It’s about encouraging people to set aside money for retirement. But this only works if people can afford to save.
In decades past, retirement was about convincing Americans to save. That’s because the system was transitioning from pensions to self-directed savings like the 401(k). But now, most people aren’t doing well enough for these incentives to function.
Take millennials, for example. Nearly half of millennials say that their finances prevent them from getting what they want in life. They aren’t able to save as much or invest in their retirement because they need to pay the bills. And that’s at the root of the problem. Our retirement system in America rests on the premise that saving for retirement is synonymous with “building wealth.” But building wealth takes investment, and investment requires excess capital. Inadequate retirement savings is not just a problem for the young.
But the retirement crisis extends further than just the younger generations. Even older soon-to-be retirees are behind on saving for retirement. Most Americans don’t have enough money saved to comfortably cover their retirement needs. What’s more, they aren’t currently saving at a high enough rate to catch up. Half of Americans save less than 10% of their annual income, and around a third save less than 5%. Even with investments, many won’t be able to live comfortably in their old age.
COVID-19 has made matters worse, forcing Americans who were closing in on retirement to have to reconsider. So many people lost jobs, had to halt work, or had to pay for medical emergencies because of the pandemic. Many folks had to prematurely raid their retirement funds for COVID-19 relief money, either for themselves or their family. Instead of adding to funds that will compound over decades, we’ve actually seen a reversal of the trend. These circumstances have set more Americans back than ever before.
Another survey showed that 52% of all American workers believe that they are behind on retirement savings. But this might not fully capture the gravity of the situation. Many Americans underestimate how much money they think they will need for retirement. A 2021 study shows that the average millennial thinks that $300,000 is enough to retire in comfort. That’s well below the amount that the federal government recommends as a minimum for most Americans.
Short Story: Even those Americans who think they are behind on saving for retirement might not understand just how far behind they are.
THE SHORTCOMINGS OF THE 401(K)
The 401(k) savings plan is often held up as a solution for this problem. But few people know that 401(k)s are actually quite poorly positioned to help.
Created as an alternative to widespread pensions in the late 1970s, 401(k)s seemed to be a solution that would take companies off the hook for supporting their long-term employees through retirement. The problem is that 401(k)s are vulnerable to recessions, and not enough people are using them to their potential.
401(k)s also don’t offer a full range of investment choices. They are often limited by the providers that their employer chooses. This can stifle growth throughout the life of a 401(k).
Another issue is that, as compared to pensions, 401(k)s place all of the risks on the individual. Instead of your employer investing money and bearing the investment risk before transferring the pension to you, you’re constantly on the line.
The Great Recession of 2008 tanked housing, stocks, and 401(k)s alike, costing millions of Americans their ability to retire. For the roughly 60 million Americans who currently have an active 401(k) plan, there may be trouble ahead. While most plans are fairly stable relative to the macro scale of the U.S. financial market and economy, nothing is guaranteed.
After taking a look at the generally poor direction that most Americans are headed in terms of retirement savings and plans, it’s time for a new option.
RESCUING RETIREMENT THROUGH EXPERT-GUIDED INVESTING
There’s a reason that some people are so good at predicting the stock market: They’ve done it all their lives, and they know precisely what to look for. For retirees and soon-to-be retirees, that experience can make all the difference.
The retirement system as it is now is leaving too many people on the sidelines. Too many people are being left high and dry.
That’s why we’re developing a new kind of investment platform where everyday investors can easily tap into this expert knowledge. By “Echoing” trades made by registered firms who know exactly what they’re doing, we can invest like the wealthy. If you have any kind of doubt about your foundation of investing knowledge, our Echo strategies can help.
Whether you’re leveraging our strategies, reading the comments of our experts, or echoing everything the RIA firm does, Echo-Trading can help you get further in the market. With our help and a little planning, you can get closer to successfully reaching your investment goals.