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Today’s Savings Rate Half of 1970s Rate

In the 1970s, Americans saved about 12 percent of their after-tax income.  Today, that’s plummeted to less than 6 percent.

Yet saving is in everyone’s interest.

A new video produced by The Atlantic magazine, “Why Americans Are So Bad at Saving Money,” blames our savings apathy on three factors: math (the lower one’s income, the less people save); psychology (spending money is more fun); and envy (keeping up with the Joneses).

The video doesn’t fully explain why this is an American problem.  But it’s accessible and thought-provoking. For example, the narrator notes that much of the national conversation is about wealth – taxing it, measuring its disparities, winning it in the stock market.

We don’t expend a lot of energy talking about what builds wealth – saving – or how to encourage it.

5 Responses to Today’s Savings Rate Half of 1970s Rate

  1. Larry Littlefield says:

    Unfortunately, the entire global economy has become based on Americans spending more than they have, not less. Which is why we are heading for stagnation.

    http://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/debt-and-inequality-go-together-rising-debt-is-the-cause-of-rising-inequality/

  2. Val Reader says:

    The Federal Reserve has printed 17 trillion USD’s out of thin air to save those who caused this crisis.
    The world is awash in Debt.

    Savers loose!

  3. maynardGkeynes says:

    It is not in the corporate state’s interest to encourage people to do anything but spend all they have on opiate consumer goods.

  4. Chris Grande says:

    To echo some of the comments and to add my own:

    We don’t talk about saving and investing in the U.S. From the top down – the President, Congress, top economists -everyone says the U.S. needs to grow its GDP – and their focus is on the “c” part – or consumption.

    Now in order for our economy to grow, it’s one tax law (or other gimmick) after another to get people to spend money they don’t have. All the while, their real incomes, on average, stay stagnate or fall. And on top of that, they want inflation which is ideally a side-effect of a growing economy – not a leading strategy to employ. And it will make things more expensive for people who aren’t getting pay raises and will get replaced by robots (hello McDonalds).

    On the micro scale, driving an older car, and being frugal are almost sinful. The peer pressure on many is enormous. Our culture is backwards – we could start more in the schools to try and offset immature adults, TV commercials, and a bit of celebrity influence.

  5. Bud says:

    Savings rates until about 1985 were around 10%. Then, as consumerism started to flourish, savings dropped till in 2005, savings as a percent of disposable income dropped to zero, but has been restated now to something over 1% because of the use of a chained CPI. It has since risen slowly to about 4% or 5%. I have calculated that savers have lost about $20 trillion in a time when industrial pensions have been reduced substantially. Most people who write me have far too little savings and know they will have to work longer.