The Retirement Gamble We're All Making

An important PBS 'Frontline' program explains why so many Americans face a precarious financial future

by Richard Eisenberg • Next Avenue
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Photograph: Shutterstock.com

Martin Smith, an Emmy-winning correspondent for PBS’ Frontline, is worried about his retirement — and yours.
 
In his excellent Frontline documentary airing Tuesday, April 23, on PBS, The Retirement Gamble (check local listings), Smith, 64, says: “I started saving for my retirement in my late 20s. But along the way I dipped into my nest egg … not once, but several times. And now, like millions of other baby boomers, I, too, don’t have enough. Most of my savings went to pay for my kids’ educations. A divorce and the crash of 2008 didn’t help either. I’m now planning to work for as long as I possibly can.”
 
After watching The Retirement Gamble, which Smith co-wrote with producer Marcela Gaviria, you’ll understand why millions of Americans are in the same boat.

(MORE: U.S. Retirement Poll: The Big Lie and the Big Fantasy)

Outdated View of Retirement

“We have a bulge of boomers and what we’re facing is the old-fashioned idea cemented in our heads that when we’re 65, we ought to be able to retire,” Smith told me. “But the current reality is we can’t afford that and nobody’s got our back. We’re on our own.”
 
Many of us, including some retirement-jittery people featured in the show, aren’t doing a terrific job of putting aside money for our futures. As Smith says in his program: “Saving for retirement remains a bewildering and frightening challenge for millions of Americans.”
 
You’ve undoubtedly seen the discouraging numbers: 57 percent of U.S. workers (and 47 percent of those 45 and older) have less than $25,000 in savings and investments, excluding their homes, according to the recent Employee Benefit Research Institute Retirement Confidence Survey. And nearly half (49 percent) aren’t confident about being able to afford a comfortable retirement, the highest level in the survey’s 23-year history.
 
I believe plenty of Americans could save more, but I also agree with one of the key points in The Retirement Gamble: Many of the 51 million people who have 401(k) plans simply don’t understand how to size them up and make smart investing choices.

Click here to read the rest of the article on Next Avenue.

Next: Yes, You Can Still Retire 

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First Published Thu, 2013-05-02 12:59

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