Salon has a new series of essays (two so far) called Pinched, and the first one was written by Heather Havrilesky, whose pioneering work for suck.com I featured in my book Slackonomics. Her essay is titled, “Perspire to Retire,” with the subtitle, “I was all fired up to save for the future. Then I found out I was a day late and about, um, $90,000 short.”
It is, of course, smart, witty and oh-so-Gen-Xerish. Here is just a blurb:
Toying with retirement calculators was so exquisitely painful (and such a profound waste of time) that by the next day, I had upped the stakes with college savings calculators. How much should we be saving each year to send my 12-year-old stepson and 2-year-old daughter to public, in-state universities? One thousand dollars a month, of course. (Private schools would mean saving 2K a month.) Now let’s see, let’s throw that 12K-a-year minimum in with the 93K a year we’re supposed to be saving for retirement, and what do we have? One hundred five thousand dollars a year in savings. Now tell me, who has an extra 100 G’s lying around each year, aside from some of your more enterprising rappers?
But here’s a contrarian view on the whole savings issues, as reported in The New York Times:
[Some contrarian] economists answer that people would get more out of their money by using it when they are younger. “There is risk in saving too much,” Mr. Kotlikoff said. “You could end up squandering your youth rather than your money.”
Mr. Scholz said he and his co-authors of a study, “Are Americans Saving ‘Optimally’ for Retirement?” found oversaving across all economic and education levels and most ethnic or racial groups as well. …Those who were not saving enough were usually missing their target by only a small amount.
- Perspire to Retire [Salon]