Feb 13, 2017
Americans are deep in the throes of a savings crisis, and the problem seems to be getting worse, not better. In 2015, a survey by GoBankingRates.com revealed that 62% of Americans had yet to amass $1,000 in savings. In 2016, that percentage climbed to 69%. Worse yet, the number of Americans with no savings at all jumped from 28% in 2015 to 34% in 2016. But that's not all. It's also estimated that one-third of Americans, many of whom are already in their 50s or older, have no retirement savings, either. And those who are saving aren't socking away enough.
According to a recent Transamerica study, the median amount saved for retirement among baby boomers -- those nearing retirement -- is just $147,000. It's not surprising, then, to learn that 60% of Baby Boomers are more afraid of running out of savings in retirement than dying.Even Gen Xers are far behind on their nest eggs despite having had access to retirement savings plans from the start of their careers. Transamerica reports that the median savings balance among Gen Xers is only $69,000. Meanwhile, only 12% are confident they'll manage to retire comfortably.
All of this might paint a pretty bleak picture, but there is
some good news. If you follow one simple rule from this day on,
you'll have a real opportunity to change your long-term financial
picture: Pay yourself first.
Before you spend any money on bills, entertainment, or whatever other expenses come your way, put a portion of each paycheck into a savings account. If your emergency fund is lacking, complete it first. If you have enough short-term reserves, focus on retirement.
Ideally, you should aim to put 10% (or more) of each paycheck into savings, but if you can't hit that target just yet, do what you can. But no matter how little you sock away, make sure to save something before spending a dime. It's the only way to guarantee that you'll have money available when you really need it.
Get your priorities straight.Most of us know that it's important
to save money in theory, but have a hard time doing so in practice.
And it's understandable -- we all have bills to pay, and some of us
are already working a second job just to get by.
But if you fail to follow this basic savings rule, you could easily get into trouble the moment an unexpected financial emergency strikes. Without ample savings, you may have no choice but to resort to debt if you lose your job or a whopper of a bill falls in your lap. Worse yet, you could even lose your vehicle or home. That's why it's important to stash three to six months' worth of living expenses in a savings account earmarked for emergency situations.
But it's not just emergencies you'll need money for. Once
retirement rolls around, you'll face a world of expenses, from
housing to healthcare, and if you don't save independently, you
risk running out of money in your old age.
On the other hand, if you start prioritizing your nest egg, you stand a strong chance of retiring in comfort.