1. Get More Retirement Savings, Cuz Congress Wants It

    Couple of saving-related news stories which hit my inbox this afternoon:

    EBRI: 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey Results

    EBRI’s 2013 survey tells us that half of workers reported having $25k or less in total savings and investments (not counting home equity and any defined-benefit plans). Twenty-eight percent have less than $1,000.

    FA Mag: Congress May Act to Stem Outflows from 401k Plans

    That’s right, America: Not only do you not have jack squat in your retirement plan accounts, but what you do have, isn’t really yours, and won’t be until Congress says it’s okay for you to have it.

    Carry on.



  2. Survey: Retirement, Medical Costs Concern Americans

    Some meaty survey goodness from late last year:

    Harris Interactive: Americans Worry About Retirement, Health Care

    According to this Harris poll from late 2012, 74 percent of not-yet-retired folks are worried about having enough money to retire (I worry along with them, by the way), and 71 percent of us worry about being able to afford health-care expenses.

    To which I say: What’s the problem? ObamaCare solved all this! Duh! [/sarcasm]

    It’s also noteworthy that 47 percent of respondents said they live paycheck-to-paycheck, and thus are wholly unable to save. Of age group 18 to 47, 53 percent said that paycheck-to-paycheck was a way of life. (This data suggests an economic situation that’s a bit worse than that reported by CareerBuilder, whose 2011 survey found that 42 percent considered themselves to be living paycheck-to-paycheck.)



  3. Next Up: 401(k) Insurance

    And no, it’s not the kind you think.

    Time: 401k Loan Defaults Soar; Insurance Needed?

    Obviously, where government and financial services are concerned, you can never have too much graft in the system. Thus our nation’s Smartest Finger Waggers have determined that the time has come to protect our 401(k) plans not from Wall Street, nor from shady CEOs … but from ourselves.

    This, of course, will cost money.

    As Time tells us, because so many folks take loans against their 401(k)s and then later default on those loans, we SIMPLY MUST DO SOMETHING to stem the tide — nay, the FLOOD — of money “leaking” from professionally-managed, employer-sponsored retirement saving plans.

    …Fidelity found in 2010 that a record 22% of 401(k) plans had a loan outstanding. That’s not as bad as it may sound because most loans get paid back. But the default rate on these loans has skyrocketed since the recession; today defaults result in annual 401(k) plan leakage of up to $37 billion . . ..

    Well, heavens-to-Betsy! Thirty-seven billion dollars? Why, this sounds like a great opportunity to introduce more “loan insurance” into the system!

    Now comes a proposal that workers be asked to purchase insurance against involuntary default before they are allowed to borrow from their 401(k). The insurance would work a lot like private mortgage insurance, which some banks require of some borrowers before extending a home loan. This policy would guarantee that any outstanding loan against 401(k) savings would be repaid if the loan goes into default due to job loss through death, disability or termination.

    We’re told that presumably, such “insurance” would be paid for by only those who borrow against their 401(k) plans, and not the rest of us. Color me skeptical. When a new opportunity to skim fees from the masses pops up, you can bet the “safety” it provides will cost a bundle, cumulatively … and they’ll be sure to spread that cost over as many hapless marks investors as possible.