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Emily’s list: Not enough for retirement edition

Emily Crone

Are you saving enough for retirement? According to CNN Money, most Americans in their 50s will retire with only $120 a month in savings. Based on Wells Fargo’s annual retirement survey of 2,000 middle-class Americans ranging from 20 to 60 years old, “Americans aren’t saving enough, they are underestimating the amount of money they will need in retirement, and they are more likely to end up working through retirement.”

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American adults think they are prepared, but they will be in for a rude awakening: “While most Americans predict they will need a nest egg of $300,000 to live on for 19 years in retirement, the average savings of 50-somethings is only $29,000, which comes out to an income of $190 a month over 20 years assuming a 5 percent rate of return,” CNN says.

With Social Security diminishing and pensions all but nonexistent, it looks like many Americans simply won’t have enough to retire on and will have to continue working past normal retirement age. These folks still have time to save up, but it will take a long time to make a dent in that shortfall. The Wells Fargo survey showed that just 33 percent of Americans have a detailed written retirement plan, and 37 percent don’t know how much they will need to retire or how long they can live on what they have saved.

I worry that Americans just don’t think ahead. Just today I was talking to someone who was in their 30s but said they weren’t interested in saving for retirement now because they are having fun and can always do it later. I tried to explain compounding interest and why it is so vital to start young, but I could tell I wasn’t going to change any minds. Debt can be the same way. It is easy, yet detrimental, to think short-term rather than plan long-term for a sustainable future. Why load up with credit card debt for unnecessary expenses when you could instead be contributing for your retirement?

Read on for my roundup of some of the best personal finance blog posts from the past week, several of which can help you start organizing and optimizing your finances (and some that will help you avoid credit card debt during the holidays).

1. The Digerati Life reviews a new site called Credit Sesame, which helps you analyze your current financial situation and optimize your debt.

2. PT Money reviews another service. This one is a site called ScoreDirect.com, and it helps customers view their Experian credit score for free.

3. Queercents questions whether more expensive holiday gifts are really more romantic and offers suggestions for affordable presents.

4. Wealth Pilgrim offers advice on how to protect yourself if you are marrying someone who has bad credit.

5. If your finances need some organizing, Rich Credit Debt Loan explains how to set up a household budget.

6. The Financial Blogger offers a tip you can use to instantly find the motivation to stick to that new budget.

7. Do you get self-conscious about giving homemade gifts instead of brand-new sparkly presents? Ultimate Money Blog compares homemade gifts with store-bought gifts.

8. Money Crush reveals a very short but very sweet list of seven ways being debt-free will transform your life.

9. Think it’s impossible to get through the holiday season without credit card debt? Squawkfox proves that isn’t necessary with this list of 50 great gift ideas that only cost $1 or $2.

10. Do you know what your rights are when making a purchase at a retail store? Master Your Card explains which practices you have to put up with and which you legally don’t have to cooperate with.

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