Why Aren’t We Saving for “Rainy Days” Anymore?

Back in the day, people believed it was morally correct and pragmatically smart to save for a rainy day.  These days, folks prefer to spend what they have to “enjoy the moment.”  It turns out that most Americans say they’re not saving as much as they should, but apparently, they’re not very worried about it.  Talk about living in dreamland!

It is sad to receive a call to my daily radio program from a hard-working young couple with children who are frustrated with their parents who spend, spend, and spend some more and don’t worry at all about retirement or medical issues they might face as they age.  These young families are frantic, concerned about their obligation to parents who are doing nothing to provide for themselves.  And then there are the young men who are making babies, “shacking up,” and/or marrying young women they are in no financial position to support.

Somewhere along the line, we’ve lost the notion of personal responsibility, and have substituted a sense of entitlement – i.e., that our families or our tax-paying communities should be paying our way.

According to federal economic data and a recent survey by the Pew Research Center’s Social  and Demographic Trends Project, 3 out of 4 Americans admit they aren’t saving enough.  While you constantly hear people complaining about their finances, these feelings don’t seem to motivate action:  Americans now save, on average, less than 1% of their incomes, and the saving rate has been in almost continuous decline for more than twenty years!

This lack of fiscal planning is equally evident for men and women.  From the lowest income level to the highest, the admission of not saving enough ranges from 78% to 71%, indicating that level of wealth is irrelevant to notions of saving.

Interestingly, the group most involved in saving is….senior citizens!  Only a narrow majority (54%) of those ages 65 and older say they aren’t saving enough. 

Necessity is the mother of frugality.