Americans get this wrong about retirement saving — and what they can do to make it right

  • Written by MarketWatch
  • Published in Economics

Many Americans are unprepared for retirement, and they may think it’s their fault they haven’t saved enough. This new podcast begs to differ.

Typical personal finance advice suggests you put 10-15% of your salary in a retirement account, or that you cut out discretionary expenses like a daily to-go coffee, trips to the movies or buying lunch[1] so you can save enough for your future. But the burden of having enough stashed away for retirement shouldn’t just fall on the shoulders of Americans, says Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist and director of The New School’s Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis and the Retirement Equity Lab. The retirement system as a whole — shared by individuals, the financial services industry and the government — is broken, and it’s hurting Americans’ future security.

Ghilarducci is the voice of her center’s new podcast, “Reset Retirement,”[2] which invites economists, retirement experts as well as everyday Americans to talk about how much they’ve saved, their confidence about Social Security and the shame associated with not having enough for their futures. Some interviewees are millennials, decades away from retirement, and some are longtime retirees sharing what they’ve learned so far. The podcast’s message is simple: Americans alone aren’t to blame for a messed up retirement system.

Podcasts are yet another way to hear about the news, listen to other perspectives and gather tips and tricks to accomplishing a goal. There are a handful of retirement podcasts already out, about saving and investing, the nonfinancial considerations to make before retiring and how to achieve early retirement. “Reset Retirement” is the newest of these podcasts, but it takes a different approach — providing context and real people’s experiences, troubles and concerns in regards to a future or current retirement, as well as why Americans may be harder on themselves than they need be. The first season ended with five episodes this week, and the center plans to release its second season in November.

Ghilarducci and Bridget Fisher, associate director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, spoke with MarketWatch about their new podcast, and what they hope Americans learn from it.

See: This may be why Americans are so bad at saving for retirement[3]

MarketWatch: Why did you decide to do this podcast on retirement? What did you hope would come of it?

Bridget Fisher: We wanted to share a different message from other podcasts, which are largely focused on the personal finance angle. We found in our work and in our research that a lot of people don’t feel that advice relates to them because they have different struggles to work with in what we consider a broken retirement system. We wanted to reflect real experiences we had learned and share them with others — they have a lot of struggles, and they’re trying to save in a...

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