Personal Finance Roundup

5 things to know about energy rebates [CNN Money] “In many locales the money is already gone.”

4 Strategies to Make ETFs Work for You [Kiplinger] “We show you how to use exchange-traded funds to boost your returns and hedge your bets.”

7 stupid retirement myths exposed [MSN Money] “Subscribing to unfounded beliefs can make your retirement harder — if not impossible — to reach.”

What Exactly Are 12b-1 Fees, Anyway? [Wall Street Journal] “Here’s where your dollars are going.”

Organic Groceries on a Budget [Wise Bread] “Here are some strategies for affording organic groceries.”

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  1. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    From the article on retirement myths article:

    “Nearly one-third aren’t currently saving for retirement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s latest retirement confidence survey, and half of those who have saved have less than $25,000.”

    So basically, 1/3rd of adults have no retirement savings, 1/3rd have less than $25k, and 1/3rd have some amount greater than $25k. Articles like this always seem to be short on details and I really wonder how scary the numbers are in reality. For the 2/3rds of adults w/less than $25k in retirement savings, I wonder how many are under the age of 30 or over the age of 70?

    In my situation, I started a 401k and a Roth at my first job where I earned something like $20k/year. With the company match, I put away around 10% of my salary or $2k/year. My salary gradually increased, along with my education and I didn’t hit $25k of savings until the time I reached 29 or 30 (the three market downturns didn’t help my very aggressive fund). Given how meager most salary’s are right out of college and how it takes time for the compounding interest to really kick in, I’m not surprised that a significant percentage of young adults have less than $25k in retirement savings. For those already retired, I’m sure the goal is to live off of dividends but in reality, I’m sure most plan to die with as close to $0 saved as possible.

    Of course, I might be overly optimistic and the reason 2/3rds of Americans have little retirement savings is because they either can’t afford to do so or just have little interest in it. Given how shaky SSI and Medicare will be as our demographics approach 1 worker for 1 retiree and how few children people are having, I really have no idea what people w/out savings will do for retirement. With no retirement savings, no children to move in with and no SSI/Medicare, what exactly are people going to do — work until death at non-existent jobs?

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      I can’t find it now but I had read this past spring about a study showing half of “near-retirees” had less than $50,000 in savings. At least people retiring soon can expect to have social security benefits – those of us under 30 should expected SS to be drastically different when we hit 65.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        That’s a good point about being drastically different. I have a feeling that SSI isn’t going away. It will probably have some sort of mean’s test built in and will likely be very meager.

        I’m actually more concerned about the sustainability of Medicare. My wife and I should have a comfortable retirement but if Medicare becomes insolvent, I don’t know what we would do. Outside of government, nobody offers retiree’s health insurance. W/out Medicare, the private market for health insurance would be ugly — I can only imagine the premium for an 80 year old with two dozen pre-existing conditions.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        That would be an interesting statistic to know. If less than half of 60 year olds have less than $50k in retirement savings, then things might be somewhat bleak. Then again, many of them probably didn’t start investing on their own until their old pensions were broken apart in the 1980’s and would be roughly in the same position as a 40 year old who started out with “modern” 401k & Roths.

        What I find especially interesting about retirement planning, is that even with future inflation and almost guaranteed increased marginal tax rates, you’d think the Roth vs. Traditional 401k debate would consistently be front page news. I think there are a lot of people who are deferring taxes from a historically low point to a future date when they will be significantly higher.

      • TouchMyMonkey says:

        That’s because SS is under constant attack from the right wing. You’ll notice that every time they start talking about some “throw ‘em to the wolves” privatization scheme, they exempt anyone 55 and over. Why do you think this is? Because (1) they vote, and (2) they’re heavily invested in SS, since they’ve been paying into it for decades. They’re counting on the over-55s to shrug their shoulders and say, “I got mine – fsck those young punks,” and the young punks, who don’t know anything, to say, “that sounds like a really nifty idea! Sure, I can manage my own retirement plan,” even though most of them have trouble managing a checkbook. The result is a general feeling that SS won’t be around for anyone not currently middle-aged.

    • evnmorlo says:

      As long as someone like Warren Buffet is receiving a payout, the threat to social security is rather overstated. And an open secret is that a lot of people “retire” into sickness and death already; poverty would just accelerates things.

  2. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I liked the organic groceries article, but the person writing it is retired, freeing up a heck of a lot of time to do things like forage for wild blueberries. Also, living where there are wild blueberries is probably helpful when you want to forage for wild blueberries. And she makes substitutions like carrots instead of crackers because carrots are healthier – this is true, but what if you need crackers? Cheese just doesn’t taste right with carrots. And she recommends organic marinara for spaghetti instead of canned tomato sauce for pizza – marinara doesn’t really taste the same as sauce you should be using for pizza.