The looming retirement crisis in America

There are steps we can take to help address this looming retirement crisis.

First, individuals and families must make saving for retirement a priority. It can be difficult to think about your 401(k) or IRA when you’re living paycheck to paycheck, but putting a little bit away each month will make all the difference. The earlier you start saving, the better off you’ll be.

The long-term solution lies in the adage “time is money,” or at least the opportunity to make money. If you put in a little bit in savings each year starting at a young age, it will add up to a lot of money by the time you’re 65 years old – and much more than if you start saving for retirement when you’re 40 or 50 years old. A recent article showed the benefits of starting saving for retirement at 25 or 30 years old.

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A $650 monthly deposit into a 5 percent compounding account will yield $ 1million after 40 years. A little over $10 dollars a day (the price of an average dine-in lunch) would yield half a million dollars. Run those same numbers over a 20-year period, and the results are $267,000 and $132,000, respectively.

The answer is obvious: start saving early, even if it’s a small amount, and get regular tax-free savings.

Second, Congress must act as well. This retirement crisis is not news for policy makers.

Last July, while I was still serving in the U.S. Senate, I worked with Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Todd Young (R-IN) on a bipartisan package of common sense bills that would help boost retirement security for individuals and families. It was strongly endorsed by the Bipartisan Policy Center. I hope these bills are reintroduced this Congress because they are needed.

Congress needs to invest in hard working families by helping make sure they can save for retirement now, so they will be set up for success in later years. But it also must be careful to avoid further complicating an already overly- complicated retirement savings system.

The dirty little secret is that government can provide all the incentives in the world for workers and families to save for retirement. But none of it will matter unless those workers and families make saving for retirement a priority as well.

Don’t miss

Power Lunch today Feb. 11 @ 2:30 PM Eastern

, as Sen. Heitkamp discusses the savings crisis facing America.