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The foundations of our society are shaky, and the fact that entire generations are about to find out that they will never be able to retire comfortably is going to change our labor market, our collective mindset, and our economy, and rip apart the fabric that holds everything together in our country.
Today, over 50% of Americans have zero money saved for their retirement years, including almost 30% of older Americans that’ll soon reach retirement age. Although some can blame the retirement crisis on workers’ lack of savings, the reality is that for the vast majority of workers in the US, it is getting impossible to afford housing, utilities, food, cars, fuel, monthly bills, health care, and education and still have money to put aside for the future.
The American Dream: An Illusion for Millions of Americans
A Brooklyn retirement system means that we’re losing one of the most important cornerstones of the American dream. American workers have built this country and made our economy run every single hour of every single day.
Today, they work harder than ever but still can’t afford the rising cost of living, with wages that never adjust to inflation levels. Since the 1970s, the average American has seen the value of a dollar plummet by 177%, according to data compiled by the Minneapolis Fed. Meanwhile, the cost of living rose by 338% during that same span, and the average hourly wage of US workers only increased by 76%.
We were taught to believe that we were all included in the American dream. We watched our grandparents’ journey of building wealth through decades of hard work, which allowed them to retire comfortably and enjoy their golden years. After so much dedication, we believed that if we followed the same path, we would end up in the same situation. But the truth is that we won’t, and the younger generations are even farther from ever reaching that level of financial security.
The Roots of the Retirement Crisis: Why Americans Can’t Afford to Retire
The retirement savings crisis in the US is a growing concern for Americans who are struggling to ensure adequate retirement income. With social security benefits and workplace retirement plans failing to provide adequate retirement income, many Americans are at risk of inadequate retirement savings.
The National Retirement Risk Index shows that over 50% of households are at risk of not having enough retirement income to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living. The Health and Retirement Study reveals that rising healthcare costs are further straining retirement funds. Tax incentives, retirement savings plans, and individual retirement accounts can help individuals save for retirement, but it requires careful financial planning.
Capital income may also provide a source of retirement income, but it is not accessible to all. The Federal Reserve Bank reports that Americans are not saving enough for retirement, and it is crucial that they start planning for their retirement savings plan today.
The jobs executed by our grandparents and great-grandparents no longer exist. Those jobs have been shipped to overseas markets where big corporations can exploit cheap labor to hoard billionaire profits.
The wealth that would be otherwise distributed throughout American society via wages of US workers employed in our domestic industries remained concentrated in the top, as corporation leaders move their operations to countries where they can pay workers starvation wages. Americans have been competing for an increasingly smaller pool of good-paying jobs, and over the decades, each generation has gotten poorer and had fewer chances of building wealth.
Without salaries that support a decent lifestyle and allow people to save for their future, Americans’ financial health has greatly deteriorated over the past five decades, and a retirement crisis that’s been in the making since the 1980s has finally erupted.
Now, millions of people are reaching retirement with not enough or no money at all. Both private and public retirement plans are failing to provide adequate help, and younger generations are becoming aware of the fact that they may not achieve financial safety during their working lives, and they are getting furious. A retirement rebellion is brewing.
Retirement Crisis: The Beginning of a Catastrophic Societal Collapse
The foundations of our society are shaky, and the fact that entire generations are about to find out that they will never be able to retire comfortably is going to change our labor market, our collective mindset, and our economy. It will rip apart the fabric that holds everything together in our country.
Retirement Crisis and Personal Finances
One of the areas that this retirement crisis will hit the hardest is personal finances. With the looming retirement crisis, many Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to manage their finances, let alone plan for their future. The lack of access to debt products such as debt consolidation loans has only made matters worse.
Debt consolidation loans are a popular debt relief option that allows borrowers to combine multiple debts into one single payment. This option is especially helpful for those struggling with high-interest credit card debt. Debt consolidation loans can also help reduce monthly payments, lower interest rates, and simplify debt management.
Impact on Debt Consolidation Loans
The retirement crisis is having a significant impact on the availability of debt consolidation loans. With a large percentage of the population facing the possibility of no retirement savings, lenders are becoming increasingly cautious when it comes to lending money.
As a result, consumers may find it increasingly difficult to qualify for a debt consolidation loan or personal loan. Lenders are looking for borrowers who have a stable income, good credit score, and low debt-to-income ratio. With many Americans struggling to make ends meet, meeting these requirements can be a challenge.
The retirement crisis has significant implications for personal finance and debt solutions. With inadequate retirement savings, many Americans are turning to personal loans to consolidate debt and improve their financial situation. When considering the best debt consolidation loans, factors such as credit history, annual percentage rate (APR), and loan origination fees must be taken into account.
Many lenders require a minimum credit score for loan approval and may perform a soft credit inquiry to determine creditworthiness. Loan origination fees may also be charged, reducing the loan proceeds available for debt consolidation. Personal loans can provide a lower monthly payment than credit card debt, but it is important to understand the impact on credit report and credit score.
Those with fair or bad credit may find it more difficult to obtain loan approval or may face higher interest rates and loan payments. It is essential to carefully review all options and choose a debt consolidation loan that aligns with individual financial goals and circumstances.
Moreover, even if borrowers do qualify for a debt consolidation loan, the terms and conditions may not be favorable. Lenders may charge higher interest rates or require collateral to secure the loan. This, in turn, can make debt consolidation loans less attractive and less accessible for consumers.
Alternatives to Debt Consolidation Loans
For those struggling with debt, there are other alternatives to debt consolidation loans. One option is credit counseling. Credit counseling agencies work with borrowers to create a debt management plan that helps them pay off their debts over time. This option is especially helpful for those who are struggling to make ends meet and need help managing their finances.
Another option is debt settlement. Debt settlement companies work with creditors to reduce the amount owed on a debt. This option is helpful for those who are facing high-interest credit card debt or medical bills.
Finally, bankruptcy is also an option for those struggling with debt. While bankruptcy should be considered a last resort, it can provide a fresh start for those who are drowning in debt. It is important to note that bankruptcy has long-term consequences and should only be considered after all other options have been exhausted.
Public and Private Retirement Plans: A System in Crisis
A study conducted by Reed in partnership with 55 Redefined is warning that a retirement uprising is on the cards for the US as both private and public retirement arrangements fall to pieces by the end of the decade.
Citing data released by personal finance site Credit Karma, analysts estimate that for the average US worker today retiring with one million dollars in savings, they would have to work for 108 years, saving at least 21% of their after-tax income and having a balanced portfolio of secure investments. This is simply not feasible for the vast majority of workers in the US.
According to the National Institute on Retirement Security, half of all working-age individuals in America, which represent 103.6 million individuals, do not own assets in retirement accounts. Of those, 27% of Americans aged 55 or more have no money saved for retirement. At the same time, 25% of Generation X responders said they haven’t set aside anything for their later years.
For those aging Americans who do have retirement accounts, persistent inflation has thwarted their plans, worsening the $7 trillion retirement savings shortfall among baby boomers who are employed and saving for retirement. 17% said they’ve decreased their contributions to their retirement accounts as a result of inflation. Another 5% of respondents age 59 and older said they can’t afford to contribute to their retirement account at all.
The situation is even worse for younger generations. 38% of millennials say they have zero or negative net worth, meaning they have more debts than assets. For Generation Z, more than 41% of respondents said their net worth is zero dollars or less. When all working-age individuals are included, not just individuals with retirement accounts, the median retirement account balance is zero dollars among all working individuals.
Even among workers who’ve accumulated savings in retirement accounts, the typical worker had a modest account balance of $40,000. Furthermore, 68.3% of individuals age 55 to 64 have retirement savings equal to less than one times their annual income, which is far below what they’ll need to maintain their standard of living over their expected years in retirement.
Even after counting an individual’s entire net worth, the generous measure of retirement savings, three-fourths or 76.7% of Americans, fall short of conservative retirement savings targets for their age and income based on working until age 67.
Due to a long-term trend toward income and wealth inequality that only worsened during the recent economic recovery, a large majority of the bottom half of Americans cannot meet even a substantially reduced savings target. That is particularly true for younger generations working in low-paid jobs.
In fact, the study argues that Generation Z is likely to orchestrate the FIRE movement, which can be defined as a massive upheaval in the labor market that will see younger workers stepping back from their jobs en masse in protest to anemic wage growth in an era of ballooning costs.
The chaotic demonstrations we’re now witnessing in France are just a hint of what may lie ahead for the United States. Over the past two and a half months, millions of people in France have taken to the streets to protest against Emmanuel Macron’s push to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. The analysts argue that similar insurrections could arise in the United States when social security goes bankrupt.
The Need for Immediate Action
It’s clear that the retirement crisis is not just a problem for individuals, but a problem that affects society as a whole. It is time for immediate action to be taken in order to prevent a catastrophic societal collapse. There are a few ways that we can work towards this goal.
Firstly, there needs to be a change in the mindset of society. We need to stop glorifying overwork and start valuing rest and leisure time. The idea that one should work tirelessly in order to achieve success and a comfortable retirement is not sustainable, nor is it healthy.
People need to understand that they are entitled to time off and that they should not feel guilty for taking breaks. This can be achieved through education and awareness campaigns that promote the importance of rest and work-life balance.
Secondly, there needs to be a reevaluation of the current retirement system. Both private and public retirement arrangements need to be restructured in a way that is more accessible and equitable for all workers. This includes increasing the minimum wage, providing affordable healthcare, and offering retirement plans that are not tied to employment. Furthermore, the retirement age should not be increased, as this would only exacerbate the problem.
Thirdly, there needs to be a shift in corporate culture. Corporations need to start valuing their employees and investing in their futures, rather than focusing solely on profits. This can be achieved by offering more benefits such as retirement plans, paid time off, and healthcare. Additionally, corporations should be held accountable for their actions, and there should be consequences for those who engage in unethical practices that harm their employees.
Lastly, there needs to be a greater investment in education and job training. Many workers are unable to save for retirement because they do not have the necessary skills to secure high-paying jobs. By investing in education and job training, workers will have access to better-paying jobs that offer retirement benefits. This will not only benefit individuals but will also lead to a stronger economy and a more stable society.
The retirement crisis is a problem that affects us all. It is not just a problem for individuals but a problem that affects the very fabric of our society. Unless immediate action is taken, we risk a catastrophic societal collapse. It is time for society to reevaluate its values, its retirement system, and its corporate culture. It is time for society to invest in education and job training. It is time for society to take action before it is too late.