10 Forces Conspiring Against Your Savings
There is also another problem that comes with having multiple jobs throughout your working career: an estimated $1 trillion in orphaned 401(k) plans that are not rolled into another plan or IRA. Lacking care and proper feeding (as in funding) they often just lurk in the background, bleeding away hard-earned cash.
Faced with a potential retirement shortfall and slim returns offered by "safe" investments, many older Americans are taking on too much risk by investing in volatile equities.
Conversely, their kids have been scared into the sort of risk aversion that will keep them from enjoying the benefit of compounding returns over a longer time horizon.
Released last month, a Merrill Lynch survey of Americans with investable assets between $50,000 and $249,999 found that "mass affluent" respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 are much more worried about their financial future than older generations, but less likely to take as many steps to get back on track (even though, at 63%, this group is also most likely to manage their investments on their own).
Dubbed "Generation Worry," Gen Y is worried about the long and short term equally. The age group is also most likely to tap into their long-term savings to pay for short-term expenses (41%), yet are less willing to make changes to meet their financial goals, such as cutting back on entertainment and personal luxuries and keeping the same car longer.
Rising prices mean less desire, or ability, to think past short-term needs to long-term planning.
The high cost of everything, over a prolonged time, could also blow your investing assumptions out of the water if you base your plan on an otherwise reasonable assumption of 3% to 3.5% a year in cost of living. Underestimating this cost -- easy to do without a crystal ball -- will eat away at your returns.
Adding insult to injury: The government's inflation calculations don't even include food and fuel. So even if all those economists are claiming a low inflation environment, your pocketbook may disagree.