Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why Bother Saving?

The South Jersey Courier Post has an article on the US Savings Shortfalls and that they cut across all demographics. Americans currently save less than 1% of their incomes, and worse is that we know we are not saving enough. Every one seems to have an emergency funding source lined up - HELOC, credit cards, even raiding the retirement accounts. But no one seems to be saving. According to a Pew Research survey

Three out of four Americans say they aren't saving enough, according to the telephone survey of 2,413 adults conducted earlier this year.

This nationwide "savings shortfall," as Pew dubbed it, is the majority situation in virtually every key demographic group -- rich and poor, male and female, black and white.

According to the survey, people feel they should be saving and are just not doing it. Here are some of the reasons why -

In another survey released last month by Pew and the Gallup organization, a majority of respondents said they hadn't improved their financial lives in the past five years. Twenty-five percent said they hadn't moved forward while 31 percent said they had fallen backward.

Homes are nearly 60 percent more expensive (in inflation-adjusted dollars) now than in the mid-1980s.

The costs of many of the anchors of a middle-class lifestyle -- not just housing, but medical care and a college education -- have increased more sharply than inflation.

These are not even taking into account the recent increase in gas and food prices. When food, housing, gas, medical are and education are rising where will the money come from to save? With real falling wages the only area to save is to cut anything that can be cut.

Slightly more than half of middle-class respondents said they've had to reduce their spending in the past year and they expect to have to continue these cutbacks in the year ahead. A quarter of the people in this same group said they expected to have trouble paying their bills. And about a quarter of the middle class who are employed worried that they could lose their jobs.

In a consumer driven economy any cutback will have a ripple affects. With spending being cut but increases on necessities where can the money to save come from. Just saving alone will require a huge paradigm shift from our debt and credit addicted habits. Will the current credit crunch and housing market downturn be enough to make that shift? We will see.

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