Most Americans rely heavily on Social Security, but it's not enough on which to retire. There are numerous stories and statistics about worrisome Americans and retirement. The average American is not saving enough for retirement. Millions who are in low wage jobs are barely able to survive. There is simply not enough income in many instances to even cover life's necessities. You can't save money when you are barely making it. However, there are also plenty of stories of Americans who simply will not try to save any money.
I am amazed at what even saving a small amount will do. Even if you can put just a few dollars aside every month the amount will grow at least some. Here is a case in point. About 40 years ago I was a teenage preacher boy. Liberty Baptist Church outside of Paintsville, Ky., hired me to be their pastor. Harold Rice was the only deacon in the church and was a very kind and wise man. The church paid me $60 a month but Mr. Rice insisted that my salary package included the church paying $6 a month into a retirement fund administered by the church's denomination. I could not have cared less about retirement. I was 17 years old. The salary arrangement probably lasted about 18 months because I moved on to attend college. This means the church might have paid into the fund about $108. I actually never thought anything about it except reflectively. I was always appreciative of Mr. Rice and the church.
For some reason last week I researched the status of that little fund and was shocked. I learned that those handfuls of $6 contributions had grown and would pay our family about $250 or more a month at age 65. I couldn't believe it.
$250 a month could pay for a trip to the grocery store or buy a couple of tanks of gasoline. Who knows? However one thing I know is that over 20 years those small $6 contributions could pay out about $60,000 or more of retirement income.
We need to keep trying to save a few dollars whenever we can. Pay into a 401k or put some into an IRA. Do something. Try to put some into a bank account just to have in case you need it. Also, don't feel too bad about all those Social Security taxes you pay. One husband and wife I know collect over $6,000 a month in Social Security pay. Plus they had extensive medical treatments performed a couple of years ago that cost Medicare over $400,000. The average American could never pay that kind of medical bill.
Start as young as you can but even seniors can save. Put a little money aside and don't touch it. Your money will grow. Sometimes, even when it's only $6 a month.
Glenn Mollette is an syndicated columnist and author of 11 books and read in all 50 states. This column does not necessarily reflect the view of any organization, institution or this paper or media source.