Your Money And Your Life: Smart Saving Tools
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Here's a startling fact - nearly half of working Americans have saved less than $10,000 for retirement. With pensions disappearing and millions more people responsible for saving and investing themselves, that's a big problem and most people realize it. Americans now say having enough money to retire is their No. 1 financial concern. We're joined now by NPR's Chris Arnold. Chris is kicking off a series called Your Money And Your Life tomorrow on Morning Edition. He joins me now for a preview. Hey, Chris.
CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Hey, Rachel.
MARTIN: Why aren't people saving enough?
ARNOLD: Well, I mean, there's a lot of answers to that question. I mean, wages have been stagnant for generations. There's a lot of problems that we know about, but also behavioral economists tell us that we're just not wired to save as human beings. We're just not very good at it. And one - there's lots of reasons, but one quick example is saving feels like losing to us. So if I say, well, Rachel, take, you know, 300 or 400 bucks out of your pocket or your paycheck and put it in a retirement account, that will feel like a loss, even though it's not. I mean, you're saving - you're giving it to yourself. But you won't want to do it. You'll delay. You'll wait too long and that's what most of us do.
MARTIN: So let's get to these investment concepts. You say there are some simple things - if people just knew them, it would be easier to be smart about investing because it's not just enough to save. You do have to make smart choices, right?
ARNOLD: Definitely, and, you know, here again, our human nature gets in the way. I mean, people will start buying stocks and mutual funds and then the market crashes down 20 percent, and everybody wants to sell everything, which is absolutely the wrong impulse. Another thing is we have trouble with numbers. So something like a 1 or 2 percent fee in a mutual fund - you might think that sounds really small, but we have trouble grasping that, look, over 20-30-40 years that little fee can eat up just a huge amount of our money, and those are some of the key mistakes that people make.
MARTIN: So the aim of this series, it sounds like, is to give people really very practical hands-on advice.
ARNOLD: Right, and one way we're going to do this - and this is kind of cool. It's the first time we've done this at NPR. We're creating a Facebook group for people who want to start saving or pay less in fees on the mutual funds that they have and figure out all this stuff. So if you go actually to npr.org/moneyandlife - that's the URL - that'll take you to the Facebook group. We'll also have it up throughout the week on the website. And we're going to do all kinds of things there. We'll have some guidance from some great investors from around the country who are weighing in and also people are probably familiar with public radio pledge drives. But we're going to have a different kind of pledge drive where you can pledge to give yourself money...
MARTIN: Oh, I like that.
ARNOLD: ...It's a pretty good one - by signing up for your 401(k), for example. So we'll hold an event. We'll say, look, in a week, we're all going to sign up and then we'll do, like, helpful nudges. We'll have some social pressure and some guidance to help people do it the right way. So hopefully it works. Hopefully it's a lot of fun, and the editors and I are very excited about it.
MARTIN: Very cool - OK, NPR's Chris Arnold. Thanks so much, Chris.
ARNOLD: Thanks, Rachel.
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