Stop Retirement Readiness Shaming

piggy bank with a life raft

We Americans love our celebrations, holidays, and observances. In fact, an entire publication, Chase's Calendar of Events Annual, is devoted to listing and explaining them all. For example, today, April 12 is National Drop Everything and Read Day. This is a good day to observe. But I have another day, week, no month I want to observe--National Stop Shaming Americans' Lack of Retirement Readiness Month.

Seriously, if you set up a Google Alert for Retirement Readiness, and I did, you will receive dozens of links in your inbox daily. Of course folks in the financial services industry write many of these articles. But academics and behavioral economists write some. All coming to the same conclusion: overall, Americans need to save more for retirement. Enough with the surveys and the self-serving commentary.
How about writing about how retirement readiness can be greatly improved if:

  • Employers who sponsor 401(k)-style retirement plans are required to make matching or profit sharing contributions unless they can show it will result in financial hardship
  • Employers who sponsor 401(k)-style retirement plans are required to provide semiannual information on plan distribution options including tax information to participants 55 and older
  • Plan record keepers get paid for the services they provide and not based on the assets in the plan
  • Agents of financial services firms servicing retirement plans get automatic fiduciary status
  • Retirement plan fees for workplace retirement plans are capped by law
  • Hidden fees like 12b-1 fee arrangements are outlawed
  • Employees receive an automatic cost of living allowance
  • Employees receive Social Security benefits counseling paid for by employers
  • Politicians stop portraying public sector pension plan participants as getting more than they deserve
  • Public school curriculums are required to include basic financial education like budgeting, debt management, saving, and investing starting in fifth grade

What it all comes down to is that many Americans need help saving for retirement. Sure, some of us can save more than we do. But many of us don't have enough money to save. And the same financial types complaining about us not saving enough take when we do save a good chunk of our savings. We have no idea how much they are taking or why, and we have no say in the matter.

No, we Americans are not saving enough for retirement, but the deck is stacked against us. And that is a shame.
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