Saving Too Much?

Huh? When was the last time you heard that in this country? It is certainly an attention-grabber, which explains why A Contrarian View: Save Less, Retire With Enough is the number one emailed article in today’s New York Times. Naturally, the surprisingly consistent conclusion of a ‘loose confederation of well-regarded economists’ is getting a frosty reception from the folks who profit the most from managing large retirement portfolios. And critics of the research have a point in arguing that it could be a disincentive to save, which is a tough sell as it is.

We are squarely in the contrarian camp ourselves on this subject, if for a different reason. In fact, one book we recommend to people 50+ and older is Retire on Less Than You Think written by Fred Brock, former Seniority columnist for the Times, now ‘retired’ as a professor of journalism and author. Brock’s case is not for saving less, but for cutting expenses, and he offers specific and compelling examples of how to do that, including his own.

What isn’t at all new in the report is the persistence of the idea that people are retiring, as in ceasing to work, and therefore in need of adequate funds to keep them out of soup kitchens. This flies in the face of every survey conducted recently, and disputes the abundant evidence of people working past age 65, even if they can afford not to. Why older people in the workforce or starting businesses remains newsworthy, is a puzzlement.

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